Industrial and Tropical Elements Complete This Airy, Three-Storey Home
Vintage furniture, art, and a unique mix of tropical and industrial styles merge together in this naturally ventilated house
Nov 14, 2018
The visual connectivity between the spaces and floors is admirable, making it an airy house.
Leaving the confines of a condo unit to live in a multi-storey house is a challenging adjustment for some. The sudden breadth of space opens up possibilities and headaches for the homeowner, who now has numerous spaces to deck with furniture—a problem the father-and-son owners of this featured house anticipated, yet still struggled with.
"It was a huge challenge for us to find pieces that suit our needs," admits Timothy Augustus Ong. "We started the process of looking about two to three years ago, and we're not done up to now." After years of living with his father in a modestly sized condo unit, transferring to the three-storey house was like plunging into alien territory, with its 702sqm of floor space on a 250sqm footprint.
Yes, the house is quite big for only two inhabitants. Timothy initially wanted a smaller house since he'll only be sharing it with his father, but they decided to address the present and future by building a bigger one. It's an ideal place to hold gatherings when the father invites his friends over, and an ideal house for the son to raise a family down the line. It's also an ideal place to showcase their collection of artwork and vintage furniture, which is extensive enough to decorate the major areas of the house.
Apart from its future-proof status, the house is quite heatproof as well. "Our emphasis to Alvin [Vega, the house’s architect] was for the house to be naturally ventilated not only to reduce cost, but to create a healthy environment where air isn't cooped up," says Timothy. Long eaves and a wooden brise soleil (sun screen) on the western façade shield the house from the sun, while the interior's atrium-style layout alleviates heat build-up.
There are only three bedrooms (one each for the father and son, and a guest room), with an entertainment room on the third floor together with the storage and laundry areas.
This house's tropical design is evident in the living area alone, which sits right in the middle of the central atrium where warm air is circulated out. Opening the sliding doors lets the wind in, and pushes stagnant air upwards towards openings on the third floor. The living area provides a vantage point to all the other floors, and it is capped off with woven lighting fixtures (big photo, above) from Azcor for a Filipino touch.The walls of the atrium are clad in new and salvaged tanguile planks that warm the dominantly concrete shell of the interiors.
The furniture is a mix of the old and new as well, with couches and chairs from Our Home, Urban Abode, and Furniture Republic sharing space with repurposed items such as the wooden side table made by the son's late mother, an interior designer.
Having a large house afforded the son the opportunity to shelter old furniture. As an architect pursuing heritage conservation, Timothy manages to salvage a number of discarded furniture pieces from old structures and gives them new life. "Nagkakalkal ng basura," he says in jest.
He loves collecting signature pieces as well, such as the Eames school chair (above) that he won in a bid, and baby chairs in the mid-century style he bought from a furniture collector. A painting by John Raymond Guevarra, Monday, (below) is prominently displayed between the baby chairs.
It's in the dining area where the father and son's love for refurbishing old furniture is showcased. The solihiya chairs were relics from Timothy’s grandfather, which the father and son chose to sand down and re-varnish themselves. The black wire Bertoia chair in the corner (seen at far left, above) was found and bought by the son for a mere P500, and he brought it home in an extremely rusted state, much to his father's chagrin. They sanded and repainted it anyway. "It's fun to work on pieces yourself, and it's a bonding opportunity for us," he says.
Much like the living area, the dining area is washed in natural light during the daytime, thanks to large windows and floor-to-ceiling glass doors. Having a neighbor that doesn't cut trees is a plus, giving the house a natural screen that further prevents sunlight from warming the interiors. The textures inside the house do the warming; as the wood surfaces introduce a tropical that contrasts against the industrial-style finishes.
"Several pieces in the house have a lot of history behind them," shares Timothy. The dining table (below) tells quite a story, being laden with wooden parquet tiles recouped from the Manila Army and Navy Club while it was being renovated (it is now the Rizal Park Hotel). The parquet tiles were being sold in sacks for a cheap price, which the homeowners pounced on.
Located adjacent to the dining area, the kitchen has a more contemporary style compared to the rest of the interiors. The wood veneer of the kitchen cabinets complements the wood island counter, giving the room a homey vibe.
A pass-through area physically and visually connects the kitchen to the dining area, and makes the space look more airy.
Second Floor Landing
The visual connectivity between the spaces and floors in the house is admirable, and the spaciousness makes for airy interiors. Ledges allow cleaners access to the windows of the atrium when they need cleaning, eliminating a maintenance problem usually found in houses with high windows.
Timothy’s bedroom appears to breathe with history. There are framed architectural drawings on the wall, a worktable from the GSIS building, and a secondhand wooden bookcase from Bangkal. The newer pieces remain consistent with the tone set by the antiques, such as the wooden bed and TV console from Mandaue Foam, Ikea shelves, and a West Elm rug. The painting at far right on the green wall (above) is by Camcas Cervantes.
Another bargain find was the wooden worktable from the GSIS building. The tables were on the verge of being thrown out during the building's renovation, so the son pleaded with the building admin to keep one of them for his own. He got the table for free and had it re-varnished, where it blends nicely with the bedroom's bare concrete.
Sporting a more elegant style, the father's bedroom is a breath of fresh air from the industrial aesthetic of the house. A Copen shelf from Philux flanks the Mandaue Foam bed, and an area rug from Pottery Barn injects a splash of vibrant colors amid the cool hues of the space. A commissioned portrait of the father, painted by Jackie Hontiveros-Lozano, hangs in a corner.
There are more vintage and antique items displayed in the entertainment room on the third floor. The homeowners got the entire set of wooden Ambassador chairs from Bangkal for only P20,000, and the midcentury console table by the brick wall is another of their reclamation projects. The room can play host to any gathering, or function as a quiet spot for reading in the morning.
The son got his father into collecting art in 2014, around the same time they started on the house’s construction. Since then, they've proudly displayed their collection all over the house, which include paintings by Arturo Luz, and Jackie Hontiveros Lozano (big photo of diptych, below), and a sculpture by Ed Castrillo (above).
It's a mistake to think that the artwork are the only things of value in the house, not with all the furniture pieces teeming with historical and personal significance. "The quality of synthetic products pale in comparison to wood furniture from the past. Nothing beats the look and feel of actual wood," says Timothy. The house could double as a repository of paintings, sculptures, and found objects, all curated by homeowners who know the importance of keeping history alive.
Photos by Jilson Tiu, styling and pictorial direction by Tala Singson
To get in touch with the designers, email architect Alvin Vega of Alvin Vega + Associates at alvinvega[at]gmail.com, and architect Timothy Augustus Ong at timothyaugustusong[at]gmail.com