Category Archives: Inspirations

Kengo Kuma

At the beginning of this month, I had the great opportunity of attending Kengo Kuma’s lecture at UC Berkeley, as part of the CED arch lecture series for the fall semester. I was pretty excited too, since this is the first time that I went to an architect’s lecture. To make things better, I get to see Kengo Kuma! Indeed, he is one of the more reputable architects of this generation.

To be honest, I was not really familiar of his projects prior to the lecture. The lecture was definitely an eye-opener, for it gave me a good sense of his design principles. Plain and simple, he is an innovator in the field of architectural design. The most prevalent thing that I noticed in his projects was the strict usage of materials, and the repetition of elements. He also does not shy away from experimenting with unconventional materials.  He strives to be as innovative as possible, either through technology or design. However, he still maintains connection with his cultural roots through integrating traditional Japanese architecture and construction techniques, and this is what I really admire about his projects.

There is something about his projects that entice the senses, especially in terms of visual appeal. I hope that I’ll be able to visit some of his projects someday. Truly, Kengo Kuma will be one of my inspirations in the years to come.

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Saynatsalo Town Hall

We can say that architecture always contains a human error, and in a deeper view, it is necessary; without it, the richness of life and its positive qualities cannot be expressed.” These are the inspiring words of one of my favorite architects, Alvar Aalto. I am dedicating this blog post to feature one of his works, the Saynatsalo Town Hall.

As the name implies, it is located in Saynatsalo, a former municipality in Finland. I believe that this building is a perfect example of what Aalto meant by ‘richness of life’ and ‘positive qualities’. Its most distinctive characteristic is arguably the use of red brick for the building envelope. The use of red brick evokes a sense of visual presence, which is typical of a public building. Other great qualities are the courtyard and ‘grass stairs’ which allow the building to mesh with the surrounding landscape, and as well serve as a public space. Through this building, Aalto brings the users/visitors to an exploration of two different realms – the social and natural realm of the town. The courtyard’s proximity to main spaces such as the library, town offices, and council chamber reflects Aalto’s design intention of making the town hall easily accessible to the public.

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The Nipa Hut, or known locally as Bahay Kubo, is considered as an architectural and cultural icon in the Philippines because of its native origin. This dwelling type was already in use even before the Spanish colonization, so its historical significance is beyond compare – no wonder it is the national house of the Philippines.

The construction of the house is fairly simple and economical, and is perfectly suited to the country’s tropical climate. Primary building materials such as bamboo, nipa leaves, and coconut leaves are locally accessible. Bamboo serves as the structural framework of the house, due to its “strong, lightweight, and flexible” nature — bamboos are tied together with “tree strings with dried coconut leaves or cogon grass”. The walls could either be constructed with bamboo slats or nipa leaves, and the “floor is  made of finely split resilient bamboo”. The house is structurally “raised with thick bamboo poles “, which give protection from wild animals, and natural occurrences, such as floods. Truly, the construction of Bahay Kubo symbolizes the resourcefulness and simple lifestyle of Filipinos, especially those living in rural regions. It is also a representation of the close-knit Filipino community, since its construction usually involves cooperation among the village people.

Growing up in the Philippines, Bahay Kubo is the first ‘architectural knowledge’ which I learned in school. It holds a special place in my heart. It reminds me of my cultural heritage. It reminds me of the moral values which were instilled in me during my childhood years. It reminds me of my humble beginnings. It reminds me to always look back to where I came from.

Reference: Bahay Kubo (from CNN iReport) by RonaldDJ. May 8, 2012.

bahay kubo by _rmx, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  by  _rmx 
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