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Mañosa shows how it can be sustained in these times
THE BAHAY KUBO (NIPA hut) goes high style in the 21st century.

At Lantana Lane, the green townhouse project of Mañosa Properties in New Manila, the model unit embodies the design philosophy of foremost architect Francisco ?Bobby? Mañosa. His precept: ?Three factors make architecture truly Filipino?values, climate and use of indigenous materials.?

Mañosa Properties is building 14 townhouses on the 3,000-sq m property in Lantana Drive, Quezon City. Dino Mañosa, CEO of the real estate firm, explains why the development is of great value.

?In the past, other developers found my dad?s ideas too expensive. We set up this company to implement the architect?s vision. It?s an end-user product. We want to make it affordable even if the materials are expensive. We will just charge a professional fee?10 percent?so clients get it at cost. ?We don?t have a developer?s profit. This is selling for P50,000 per square meter. Our competitors sell for P80,000 to P90,000 per square meter. It seems expensive because the floor area is big.

?The average townhouse is 200 sq m. This townhouse is 400 sq m. The ceilings are 9-ft-high. There are four levels?three bedrooms, penthouse and deck, maid and driver?s quarters and bathrooms in all the rooms.

?In all, the cost of the townhouse ranges from P18 million to P25 million. Other developers would charge from P30 million to P40 million with their 40 to 50-percent markup.?

Local culture

The homes feature sustainable architecture and Mañosa?s trademarks, inspired by the bahay kubo?bamboo flooring, pitched roof with finials, angled windows and exterior to protect the interiors from direct sunlight, plant boxes to disperse the heat, etched windowpanes echoing the capiz windows, diagonal struts inspired by the tukod in windows, sawali or mat-woven pattern on the ceiling, a modern banggerahan or open-air dish rack and lots of edible and medicinal plants.

?It was designed to conform with the topography while instilling the philosophy of contributing to our crafts,? says Mañosa.

However, the traditional features are modernized such as the engineered bamboo flooring and mat-woven ceiling treatment made of PVC (polyvinyl chloride, a durable plastic material resistant to water and fire).

Interior designer Bambi Mañosa, adds, ?My dad is known for local finishes but not many are ready to accept. They are afraid of bukbok and insects. For this townhouse, we used PVC weave so it?s low maintenance. The beams and lighting fixtures are tanguile.?

Coconut lumber, which architect Mañosa introduced in the ?70s, is used as decor accent.

The space planning is in the context of the Filipino culture. As in Filipino ancestral homes, the ground floor or silong holds the garage, maids and drivers area and their own kitchen utilities.

?We studied our market. Their concern is that when they travel for two months in a year, they want their house locked, opened only for cleaning. In the design, the helpers have their own quarters for security,? says Dino.

?The Filipinos are fond of TNT (tago nang tago),? adds architect Mañosa. Hence, Mañosa & Co., the architectural firm, made provisions for ample storage space even in the landings in the stairwell.

Bambi adds: ?The layout encourages regular entertaining. There?s a big living room and penthouse where you can entertain. The space enables the owner to move things around. It?s so Pinoy. We can?t stay with one look; they keep adding over time.?

Green features

Angelo Mañosa, proponent of green architecture, gave his input on eco-friendly aspects. Dino explains: ?We started by not cutting a single tree so we get as much greenery. We don?t want it too dense so that each townhouse can have its own garden,? says Dino.

One block of townhouses faces east. On the west, extra insulation was added on the walls and roof to keep the heat out. Windows have sun baffles to reduce the glare.

The exterior is covered with araal stone cladding which is also heat-resistant.

There are ample cross-ventilation and ceiling fans as alternative to air conditioning. ?We try to bring in as much sunlight without bringing in the heat. During the hottest day in Quezon City, the place was still comfortable,? says Dino.

Window awnings protect the house from the rain as opposed to conventional sliding windows.

The construction uses Smart Masonry that uses a dry stack, mortar-free, reinforced concrete block system that facilitates faster erection of walls and lessens construction waste.

Each house has rainwater harvester that is recycled to flush toilets. ?If rainwater runs out, it automatically switches to MWSS,? he says.

The townhouse makes use of recycled materials such as narra in the staircase and pavers from Asian Development Bank. ?The driveway will be perforated in certain areas so that the rainwater will go straight down into the water bed and won?t run off into sewers. There?s a provision at the back of the house to recycle waste. The house uses VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints that are non-toxic.

?The stair treads are lower than the regular size, making it easy to climb. The top deck is laden with weather-proof cedar flooring, where the trees are reforested. Homeowners can install an outdoor Jacuzzi and enjoy privacy instead of going to the pool in the compound.

Landscaping

The model unit shows how to decorate a contemporary Filipino home in good taste. The backdrop is a soothing neutral color scheme. The furniture is a mix of elements made from found wood, a touch of antique for character, sleek Philippine-made furniture, oversized native baskets and Cordillera crafts for accents, cotton upholstery and soft furnishing in earth tones and sisal carpets.

Plants are an important element in the architecture. Mañosa refers to the famous ?Bahay Kubo? which talks about the variety of plants inside the nipa hut and landscaping.

?Plants and landscaping are like makeup for women?an afterthought. You must protect the house with planting,? says the National Artist.

Lantana Lane is surrounded by mango, gemelina, kaimito, bamboo, coconut trees and lantanas for color.

The townhouse is decked with calamansi shrubs and pots of thyme, rosemary, oregano for coughs, aloe vera, tarragon, barbarosa to repel mosquitoes, mums and sunflowers. It?s a clever interior decor tip.

?No Filipino should die of hunger,? maintains Mañosa. ?This is what my practice is all about. Filipino architecture should start with the bahay kubo.? And then some.

(For details, call 842-7499/ 842-8071. Visit website www.manosa-properties.com)