Developer offers to help rebuild Yolanda-affected communities

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Tuesday, December 3, 2013


AN ITALIAN architect and expert on sustainable architecture and green building is offering to contribute his skills to help rebuild Leyte and the other parts of eastern Visayas recently devastated by Typhoon Yolanda.

Architect Romolo V. Nati, Executive Chairman and CEO of ITALPINAS Euroasian Design and Eco-Development Corporation (ITPI), is offering to help build the master plans of Tacloban City and other parts of Eastern Visayas battered early this month by the super storm.

ITPI is a young real estate company that specializes in the design and development of sustainable buildings.

“I feel very sad for the Filipinos in Tacloban and Leyte who have to deal with the death and destruction brought by Yolanda, and I would like to help them get back on their feet,” said Nati, in a statement.

“But even as we grieve, we can move forward,” said Nati who has made the country his adoptive home for years.

He said that now is the chance to develop the master plans of the new cities and towns –sustainable plans that take into account the need to survive typhoons and build sustainable habitats.

“I’d like to help do that,” he added.

Building for climate change

Nati said that it is possible to create master plans of cities and towns that have a much better chance of withstanding super storms and other extreme weather conditions that the world expects as a consequence of climate change.

“Some features of sustainable habitats include proper zoning or concentrating living spaces in higher areas, in places 50 to 100 meters above sea level,” Nati said.

“Then, there’s the civil works component, such as building dikes and storm walls, as well as drainage channels to facilitate the flow of storm waters into the sea,” he added.

“For buildings, we can also adopt what I call the ‘Aikido strategy,’ that includes adopting features that minimize the opposition of strong winds and storm waters,” Nati said.

Aikido is a Japanese martial art in which practitioners don’t oppose their attackers head-on but instead flow with the motion of the attacker to redirect the force of the attack.

Among these features are perforated facades and inner courtyards, both of which minimize the opposition of buildings to storm surges and strong winds brought by typhoons.

Buildings can also be designed to withstand extreme conditions by adopting hydrodynamic and aerodynamic shapes.

“Of course building structures that are elevated from the ground will also help protect the building from flash floods during storms.” Nati said.

He said that for settlements along coastal areas, erecting buildings with all their load-bearing walls positioned perpendicular – and not in opposition – to the sea can help withstand tsunamis.

Open room-to-room designs that minimize obstruction in the event of overpowering flow of water can also help.

“These and other similar design features will ensure that while strong surges may damage the building – and inhabitants would need to heed evacuation advice – its superstructure, at least, will survive to be restored and reused,” he explained.

ITPI’s Primavera Residences withstands storm

The ITPI executive also noted that the energy-saving features in many of ITPI’s property developments also function as storm-mitigating features during emergencies, lessening the impact of extreme weather.

For instance, Tower 1 of the Primavera Residences, ITPI’s mixed-use, condominium complex in Cagayan de Oro City incorporated eco-friendly features that helped it survive the deadly typhoon Sendong that flattened many buildings in that city and in nearby Iligan City in December 2011.

On ordinary days, unobstructed air flow is part of Primavera’s design function as a natural ventilation system that lowers temperature and slashes air-conditioning costs,” Nati said.

“During typhoon Sendong, this also functioned to lessen the impact of strong winds on the tower by rerouting rather than obstructing overpowering winds,” said Nati.

Multi-awarded architect

Nati has a track record in design, architecture and real estate development in both the Philippines and in Europe.

His work has been recognized by many organizations across the world and he has won many international competitions, including the 2011“Design Against the Elements (DAtE) International Design Competition” sponsored by the National Geographic Society, the Climate Change Commission and the United Architects of the Philippines (UAP) with other institutions.

His “Coral City Concept” bested 200 entries from 50 countries to bag the Special Energy Award.

He graduated summa cum laude in architecture from the La Sapienza University in Rome and has a Masters in Urban Landscape and Layers from the University of Tallin in Estonia.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on December 03, 2013.

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