A Sustainable Modern-Day Green Home

Taking cue from the architecture of the traditional Filipino bahay kubo, this home showcases lightweight native materials, raised ceilings, and cross ventilation

Original Article: Katherine Lopez Photography: Paolo Feliciano Pictorial Direction: Dagny Madamba and Tala Singson Styling: Dagny Madamba and Tala Singson

Conserving energy is only one thing that determines a sustainable home. You can also build a home that is in harmony with the elements. Architect Gelo Mañosa took these into consideration when designing his family home. Taking cue from the architecture of the traditional Filipino bahay kubo, he used lightweight native materials, raised ceilings, and cross ventilation.

This sustainable home employs passive cooling—that is, using non-mechanical means to cool a structure. For this, the house lets the east side of the house act as a “wind corridor” during the colder months. The house is at an oblique angle to let more air in. There’s also a vent fan in the ceiling so hot air that accumulates here can get pushed and a second fan sucks it out. Glass sliding doors separate each area, so that less energy is used to cool a room.

The staircase is a quick heat delivery system that takes cool air from the ground floor and takes it to the second floor. Adjustments were made to keep the heat out of the second floor. On the west side, the sunshade protects and keeps it cool. The living area is exposed most to the sun, especially in the summer months, so they extended the sunshades and planted trees in strategic spots.

Inside the house, sustainable materials like rattan, red cedar wood, and recycled teak were used to their full potential. The household also practices segregation, composting, recycling, and using organic products.

Read the original article ("Paradise in the City") in the April 2014 issue of Real Living Magazine. Download your digital copy of Real Living on the Real Living App now! Log on to for more details.


The deck is spacious, airy, and has all the elements of nature converging. The wood is western red cedar that comes from sustainable forestry.

Door Detail

The glass door has patterns painted all over it for a clear-divider sort of look.

Design Detail

The wall made of araal stones was built by an Ifugao using only his hammer. 


Walls and ceiling clad in woven rattan give a tropical-Filipino and refreshing feel to the foyer. 

Living Area

Illumination and ventilation, not to mention carefully chosen furniture, make this living area conducive to entertaining and relaxing for hours.

Living Area

The spacious living area is light and airy. Neutral sofas blend with wicker chairs and wooden tables. On one wall hangs a metal art piece by sculptor Michael Cacnio called “Google Earth.” 

Living Area Detail

This mosaic gecko is a colorful surprise and accent.

Dining Area

Gelo calls the dining room the “rattan room”because the walls are made of sustainable rattan weavings. 


The Mañosa couple likes to cook and entertain. This kitchen is not only well-appointed and well-stocked, but it also uses energy-star-rated appliances and select recycled materials, like an old balustrade.

Kitchen Detail

Gelo recycled these balusters that came from a house of one of Gelo's clients into legs for the kitchen counter. 

Kitchen Detail

The sink is bathed with sunlight that streams in through the wide glass windows. It has a built-in banggerahan, a traditional feature in Filipino kitchens where dishes are laid out to dry.


The glass windows open up the staircase landing. Recycled teak wood makes up the stairs and the railings are made of rattan strips. Capiz lamps hang from the ceiling add a traditional Filipino touch.

Design Detail

Patterns of bamboos and leaves are etched on the glass awning of the front porch. During daytime, the patterns create shadows of the same shapes on the porch and foyer. 

Master Bedroom

The high ceiling lets air circulate and the floor-to-ceiling windows let light into the master bedroom. 

Son's Bedroom

A custom-made bed for Gelo’s two-year-old son is surrounded by plant-and-animal details that he made himself. Low–VOC paints were used to paint them. Other eco-friendly features are the bamboo flooring and LED lighting.

Daughter's Bedroom

Huge windows let ample natural light into Gelo's daughter's bedroom. 


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