I don’t think our Cebu trip is complete if we weren’t able to visit at least one home in the city. My college friend, Zina, suggested her uncle’s home, but didn’t give any details about the design of the house. She just told me, “My uncle has a really nice house,” and I simply took her word for it. I just didn’t know what she exactly meant by “nice”, hehe.
We were pleasantly surprised to find out that the house is more than just “nice”. The design goes beyond style and aesthetics. It integrated features for sustainability (green design) and accessibility (universal design). Plus, the house is also home to an interesting collection of artworks.
This is the home of Dr. Ted Gonzales, an ophthalmologist, who also happens to be an art collector and a design enthusiast. The site was previously occupied by his parents’ house which, unfortunately, got burned several years ago. His interest in design and architecture grew during the time when he and his partners were building clinics. He learned so much about design and construction from those projects, which he later on applied into building his own home. In fact, Ted was the one who technically conceptualized and designed the house with the help of Google Sketchup. He still closely coordinated with his architect to check whether the design complies with building standards, and to draw up working drawings for construction.
A big part of his design was inspired by the book Off The Grid: Modern Homes + Alternative Energy by Lori Ryker. Therefore, a lot of green features were integrated into the design. One, which is also the first thing that I noticed upon entering the house, is the use of louver glass windows (jalousie) all throughout the house to maximize the openings for ventilation. I personally like louver windows because I think they’re the best and most appropriate for tropical climates. While louver windows are often perceived as baduy in the Philippines, they are widely used in Australia especially in the design of many modern homes (see homes with louver windows here). Apart from providing 100% ventilation, their louvers could be adjusted/angled, instead of totally closing them (like in the case of casement and sliding windows), to protect the interiors from rains and strong winds while still allowing some amount of air to flow through. The clerestory windows above the living area are also in louver type. They allow hot air to rise and exit from the interiors and provide generous natural light during the day. Another green feature is the rainwater cistern built under the garage. Water collected here is used for watering the plants and for flushing the water closets.
Because Ted lives with his parents, the interiors, particularly the ground floor, have provisions for accessibility. The parents’ room is located near the entrance-living-dining areas, convenient enough for the older couple who have limited mobility. A ramp replaced typical steps leading to the adjacent bathroom under the stairs.
The rail-free staircase, an interesting focal point of the interiors featuring mangkono (Phil. iron wood) planks, leads to Ted’s space at the second floor. Starting from the staircase up to the hallways, he displays his collection of artworks, from paintings, sketches, and sculptures, mostly from artist Raymund Fernandez.
[Image above: This is a replica of Picasso's Guernica which was used for a stage play in Cebu. Part of the play was a reenactment of what happened to the painting--the words "KILL LIES ALL" were spray painted onto the artwork during a protest againts Richard Nixon's pardon of William Calleyin 1974. Read about it here.]
His den at the second floor is like a mini-apartment which includes a living area with a sleeper (sofa bed), a dining area, a small kitchen and a bathroom. Apart from being Ted’s workspace, it also functions as a small entertainment room where he hosts small gatherings, and as a spare room for guests. Opposite the den is Ted’s bedroom which is also fitted with a working desk and a bathroom.
[Images above: (left) Raymund Fernandez's "Ninoy", which is part of his Alpiler Series. Read about it here. (right) Nude drawings displayed in the masters bedroom.]
Apart from the design of the house and his collection of artworks, Ted is also proud to share that the house was built within a limited budget. He did this by making the design simple and functional. Also, a lot of his furniture pieces were flea market finds, like the leather chaise lounge and coffee table at the den (photo above).
Ted’s love for art and design coupled with a realistic and practical mindset allowed him to create a beautiful, functional and equally comfortable home. [Thank you again Sir Ted for welcoming us to your home. And for introducing us to dried langka and pineapple!]
Tags: cebu, filipino homes, home, interior design, louver windows, passive cooling, passive cooling strategies, philippines, raymund fernandez, space matters. art, ted gonzales, tropical design
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