Latest Stories

Carlo Calma’s bold, quirky ‘conversations’–between two houses

Building a pad/gallery beside his family’s house, this young architect plays with lines and shadows, art and space, the traditional and the modern


YOUNG architect Carlo Calma stands on the second-floor balcony of the new house, above an L-shaped swimming pool that runs along one side of the house and extends all the way into a small part of the living room. STANLEY ONG

When London-trained Filipino architect Carlo Calma started designing a second home near an old one he shares with his family, his foremost consideration was how to facilitate a “conversation” between the old structure and the new one.

Going for a modern theme was a given, since the old home was modern. The two houses are separate structures in the same compound. But while the older one has brick-lined walls and glass panels, the newer one is a neutral-colored building in white, gray, black and touches of matte silver.

“My original purpose was to build a place for entertaining and a gallery for my sculptures,” says Calma, 30, who does abstract and “bespoke” pieces made mostly of wood and acrylic.

LOFT offers a view of the second-floor hall featuring some of Calma’s “bespoke” sculptures and prized furniture collection from the likes of Kenneth Cobonpue, B&B Italia, Norman Foster and Menotti. PHOTOS BY STANLEY ONG

“Since the place has enough space for a couple of bedrooms, including an office, I’m now open to the idea of moving here one day. Anyway, it’s just a few steps away from our old home.”

Carlo comes from the famous architect clan. He is nephew of veteran architect/sculptor Lor Calma and first cousin of Lor’s equally famous architect-son Ed. His dad Pabling, a retired civil engineer, is also a prominent name in construction.

Apart from a play of straight and diagonal lines that draw the visitors’ eyes and prevent the new house from becoming predictable, the structure is noteworthy for its series of glass-lined balconies supported by metal frames.

Functional elements

To avoid monotony and set the house apart from typical Asian modern houses, Calma introduced functional design elements, including a matte stainless steel sliding gate.

To temper the bright morning sun, for instance, he shielded the new structure’s upright front windows with “vertical gardens.” The system, which comes with built-in sprinkler, is imported. Calma tapped a local company to install it.

SILVER upholstered sofa and matching coffee table by famed Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid echo the color of Calma’s one-of-a-kind chandelier made of discarded backrests.

“I envisioned both houses to have some sort of conversation,” says Calma. “My dad loves the view of the new house from the old one, particularly when he wakes up in the morning.”

Not only does the structure allow the outside in, the balconies also give people in the new building an unimpeded view of the old one.

Color is confined mainly to a number of Calma’s artworks within and outside the house. Another source of color is the cobalt blue-tiled L-shaped swimming pool that lines one side of the house and extends all the way to a part of the living room.

Calma also played with contrasts. After using dark gray Italian tiles in the house’s exterior, he opted for off-white Carrara marble for the ground floor’s public areas; this echoes the color of a Carrara-top dining table with leather-bound chairs by Menotti in the formal dining area.

There’s also a play on hues. A boomerang-shaped upholstered sofa in silver by the famous Zaha Hadid, for instance, is matched with a silver-painted chandelier made from the backrest of old chairs from Pampanga. This is one of his art pieces.

“I call them bespoke pieces,” he says, referring to his artworks, “because if I could have it my way, I’d rather do art pieces that go with particular spaces I designed as an architect.”

CALMA draws inspiration from “Alice in Wonderland” for this quirky bathroom ensemble composed of a tea pot-framed mirror and sink

Luz, Cobonpue, Forster

Apart from shelves and countertops, other functional and bespoke pieces he did include a round minimalist silver clock which, with the number eight extending to a corner of the wall, doubles as a mini bookshelf. He also designed several faucets in the bathrooms. He loves designing for the bathroom.

His bespoke works, including several purely art pieces, go well with paintings by Arturo Luz and statement chairs by the likes of Kenneth Cobonpue, B&B Italia and Norman Foster.

In lieu of Carrara marble, he opted for teakwood on the second floor, including a third-floor loft. Calma considers the sculptural staircase, which he designed himself using teakwood and matte stainless steel, an “artifact” in itself.

THE FAUCET hangs from the ceiling, its twisted shape giving the bathroom a boutique-hotel feel.

“Whenever I design a house, I make it a point to create a built-in artifact,” he explains. “This time, it’s the staircase. The idea of using stratified lines is again evident. The staircase’s change of morphology can be seen in the straight lines that span out and eventually protrude as one climbs its steps.”

Drawing inspiration from his travels abroad, Calma designed not one but four statement bathrooms. To give each bathroom a bespoke feel, he designed some of the fixtures himself by using either custom-made or hard-to-find faucets, sinks and countertops.

“I always have fun doing bathrooms,” says Calma, despite the obvious expense it entails to achieve his vision. “Whenever I travel abroad, I try to stay in some of the best boutique hotels. It’s one of the first things I check as soon as I enter my room.”

Unlike hotel chains, he says, some of these boutique hotels feature the best and most interesting bathrooms. Apart from introducing quirky details, a good number of these bathrooms have out-of-the box configurations. Calma has worked at achieving the same level of surprise and quirky approach captured in his latest project.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Architecture , Carlo Calma , House & Home , Lifestyle

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  2. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  3. This is not just a farm
  4. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  5. Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  6. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week?
  7. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  8. 12 other things you can do at Pico de Loro Cove
  9. Moist, extra-tender blueberry muffins
  10. The truffled mac ‘n’ cheese, eggs benedict, chicken leg confit are excellent
  1. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  2. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  3. Marcos grandson to wed beautiful Rocha scion
  4. France makes work beyond 6 p.m. illegal
  5. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  6. South Koreans crave Asia’s smelliest fish
  7. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  8. Ever heard of HydroBob?
  9. 90 percent of Filipino households don’t practice proper toilet hygiene, sanitation
  10. Boots Anson-Roa to wed in Eddie Baddeo
  1. Mary Jean Lastimosa is new Miss Universe Philippines
  2. Did Angara ruin Pia Wurtzbach’s chances at Bb. Pilipinas?
  3. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  4. Manila in shock over model Helena Belmonte’s death
  5. Vinegar test helpful vs cervical cancer
  6. From Jeannie to mom of suicide victim
  7. San Vicente beaches hidden but not for long
  8. Borgy and Georgina are back; others are off–again
  9. Sen. Angara: I thought Pia Wurtzbach gave a good answer
  10. Ex-Givenchy model fights for ‘Yolanda’ survivors


  • Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  • Drilon, Nancy Binay urge Filipinos to strengthen faith
  • ‘Yolanda’ toll now at 6,300 – NDRRMC
  • ‘Mom, I love you,’ says text from student on sinking ferry
  • Moderate earthquake jolts southern Iran
  • Sports

  • Power Pinays smash India in Asian Women’s Club volleyball opener
  • PH youth boxers off to stumbling start in AIBA World tilt
  • Durant has 42, Thunder beat Pistons 112-111
  • Walker leads Bobcats over Bulls in OT, 91-86
  • Man City slips further out of title contention
  • Lifestyle

  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • This is not just a farm
  • Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  • Moist, extra-tender blueberry muffins
  • Entertainment

  • Will Arnett files for divorce from Amy Poehler
  • American rapper cuts own penis, jumps off building
  • Jay Z to bring Made in America music fest to LA
  • Why Lucky has not bought an engagement ring for Angel
  • Derek more private with new girlfriend
  • Business

  • Asia stocks fail to match Wall Street gains
  • Fired Yahoo exec gets $58M for 15 months of work
  • PH presses bid to keep rice import controls
  • PSEi continues to gain
  • Number of retrenched workers rose by 42% in ’13
  • Technology

  • Netizens seething in anger over Aquino ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Filipinos #PrayForSouthKorea
  • Taylor Swift tries video blogging, crashes into fan’s bridal shower
  • DOF: Tagaytay, QC best at handling funds
  • Smart phone apps and sites perfect for the Holy Week
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • Syria most dangerous country for journalists, PH 3rd—watchdog
  • Japan says visa-free entry still a plan
  • First Fil-Am elected to Sierra Madre, Calif. city council
  • UC Irvine cultural night to dramatize clash of values in immigrant family
  • Filipino sweets and info served at UC Berkeley Spring Fest