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Building & Renovating

6 Tips to Achieve a Modern Bahay Kubo

Create an airy, functional, and comfortable haven that stands out

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Photography: Seong Kwon | Dairy Darilag

It’s safe to say that the bahay kubo is one of the well-loved pegs of homeowners when it comes to designing their dream homes. Aside from having a unique structure and showcasing the beauty of local materials, it highlights a functional layout with open spaces and storage nooks.

If you’re thinking of building a modernized version of the bahay kubo, you can use architect Alistair Sadie’s home as inspiration. Alistair built an industrial-contemporary take on the bahay kubo which features materials like palochina wood, concrete, and metal. Give a nod to the past and create your own take on the cultural symbol with these tips and reminders from the architect:

1. Pick the materials you'll work with.


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“If you intend to adopt the idea of a modern bahay kubo, you can start with materials that are natural in appearance then mix it with modern finishes like PVC (Polyvinyl chloride) and veneers. The idea is to incorporate something that looks raw with modern touches—imagine a kiln-dried bamboo coffee table on a gray stone tile and a white acrylic wall panel or a plain marine plywood ceiling on a black acrylic wall panel and wood floor finish,” Alistair explains.

2. Opt for huge windows.


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Alistair recommends jalousie windows as these are ideal for a tropical country like ours. These let in plenty of natural light and the cool breeze to make the home more comfortable. “There are many suppliers that offer different materials and finishes. Play with it,” he adds.

3. Stay true to the “cube-ness.”

“It may be rectangular, an L-type, or whichever shape. The point is to obtain openings on each side of the house. These could be windows or doors to allow light and air to pass through. Practice cross-ventilation.”

4. Don’t forget storage and the space under the main house.


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Back then, the silong was used as storage where crops, farming equipment, and other essentials are kept. In Alistair’s home, the space under the main house functions as a garage and a receiving area with a dining nook and a dirty kitchen. Giving careful thought on how you can maximize a silong helps. “Keep in mind that the higher you want the silong to be, the higher the flight of the stairs. You might end up hating the stairs eventually whenever you forgot something upstairs or vice versa. If it’s just for storage, keep it low. If you want it only as a garage, keep the height just above the car or keep a low platform and just taper the ground where the garage is located,” Alistair explains.

5. Go for a high ceiling.

A high ceiling helps you achieve a taller, well-ventilated space. The architect shares that opting for a high ceiling can help you cool down a space without turning on an AC unit through cross-ventilation. “Remember, warm air goes up and cold air goes down. You don’t want the warm air just above your forehead,” says Alistair.

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READ: 7 Ways Tropical Design Can Cool Down Your Home

6. Be bold and creative.


“The bahay kubo with its pitched roof is perfect for the rainy season. Use it to collect rain water for plants. With a large window, you can hang plants. It can serve as a shade and it look good both inside and out,” the architect suggests. Don’t limit yourself to the pegs you see and how the original bahay kubo looks like. Feel free to incorporate your own take and add a few personal touches. It’s your home so make sure it reflects your taste and personality.

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READ: 8 Must-See Bahay Kubo-Inspired Homes

Ready to build your dream home? Get in touch with architect Alistair Sadie through mobile at (0998) 536-8758). You can also follow Atelier SAVI on Facebook.

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