In a tropical climate, certain design considerations must be upheld. Welcome to Screen House, where airflow, light and contemporary design collide to create the perfect Philippines home.
The very best home design occurs when not just style and function but also climate are considered. Tropical architecture demands that careful attention is paid to ventilation, with the building’s overall consumption of energy a key factor in design.
Screen House is located in Metro Manila, in the Philippines. This home was crafted to suit a single family living in this warm climate where the average weather temperature is 30°C or above for 12 months of the year. Due to this heat, a design solution was required that would encourage passive cooling while also meeting modern style demands.
Buensalido + Architects was appointed to find the answer to this problem. Principal architect Jason Buensalido and lead project architect Cholo Ramirez worked together to create a home that is not only contemporary, but climate conscious too — and it all starts with a simple screen.
Take one look at Screen House and the theme becomes instantly clear. From the front facade, where screenwork stretches across the second storey and is mirrored in the entrance gates, a statement is made. This is a house of bold lines and natural materials, creating an almost industrial tropical aesthetic that perfectly suits the building’s location.
Inside, the house is organised by a central axis that transports the visitor through the depths of the property. From the foyer through to the main living area, outdoor deck and then finally the lusciously landscaped garden and pool, this central avenue plays an organisational role. It is from here that the service spaces and served spaces extend, with each area further defined by outdoor sections that welcome in natural light and enhance cross-ventilation. This covered exterior walkway, combined with the generous ceiling heights of each space, helps to create a feeling of lightness, openness and airiness, which the Buensalido team refer to as maaliwalas, a design characteristic that most tropically designed homes should adhere to.
When creating the rest of the home, internal functions led the way. Private spaces were enclosed with solid planes, but to keep the sense of movement and flow, less-private spaces were considered as voids and enclosed with transparent planes that function as fenestrations and opportunities for light and air. The screen was then employed as a secondary layer to add a sense of security and privacy.
“Architecture becomes a screen, the screen a transitional strategy, and the transitional strategy becomes language,” a representative from Buensalido + Architects says. “The screen therefore becomes a dichotomous essay between the natural and artificial, between outside and inside, between transparency and opacity, and between openness and privacy.”
The staircase is a prime example of this, where screens shield the visitor while welcoming in light. Pendant lights with bold frames echo the work the screens have begun and add warmth to the space.
In the bathrooms, bold black frames support glass screens to separate space and continue the theme. They welcome in the light while still demanding definition.
All these lines could feel rigid and unyielding, but they’re cleverly paired with the gentlest of curves. A spiral staircase creates a playful feel in the centre of the home and a curved lip to the island bench in the bar area continues this concept. Natural materials again soften the space and ensure that despite the home’s metropolitan location, the local environment is not forgotten. Timber feature ceilings add interest and soften the home’s industrial style. Glimpses of nature, from the sparkling pool to the tropical bamboo screening, create relief from the darker palette of the dwelling’s interior, as well as providing a connection point to the great outdoors.
Throughout the home, a sense of indoor/outdoor living is present. Whether travelling along its corridors or venturing from the dining room to the alfresco table and chairs and then further to the pool, transitions are seamless. The same sense of quality and style continues throughout the interior and exterior.
Words Lauren Clarke Photography Ed Simon