Challenge accepted and built-A A +A
Monday, October 21, 2013
BIG dreams. Small reality. That is often mostly the case with individuals, couples or families who intend to have their homes designed and built.
A long list of rooms and spaces, inspired from mental snapshots or from design magazines, would often be presented to architects for the initial concept and schemes.
As the conceptualization process begins, clients would later on realize that their “big picture” of a house would not be compatible with a miniscule lot or a heavily guarded budget. But being the visionary that he is, it is the architect who would eventually tone down those “dreams” and present a more realistic and definitely, a better option.
Such was the case when architects Gerome Camello and Marianne Ocampo were commissioned to do a design for the house in this story located in a subdivision in Lapu-Lapu City.
The 97-square-meter lot on which the house would be erected posed a challenge already.
But it did not end there.
“The subdivision only allowed firewalls (walls along the property line) only up to the ground floor level. Above that, the building should follow the required perimeter setbacks stated in the building code. That left us with a second floor with overall dimensions of 4m x 7m (28 sqm), including the stairs going up,” shares architect Camello.
This was probably the part their excited clients missed when they initially required a long list of spaces they wished to incorporate in their abode. Initially, they wanted a three-bedroom house with two toilet and baths, helpers’ quarters with toilet, “wet” and “formal” kitchens, service yard and one-car garage. The architects explained to their clients that the possibility of all these rooms being included was achievable but they pointed out to them that the spaces may already be too cramped for their use.
The clients then agreed to reduce the number of rooms.
The design challenge was clearly to create a wide and open interior even with the small area. The living and dining areas were the focus of this planning aspect as they collaborated with their associate engineer to come up with a structural layout that would free this area from any vertical support. This resulted in a more flexible and free-flowing space for the user.
With the use of firewalls to maximize the allowable building footprint, the next challenge was how to incorporate natural ventilation. Camello said that the lot was oriented parallel to the prevailing winds so they placed majority of their windows facing the direction of the wind to let in air inside the house.
“The facade of the house was designed like an air dam, capturing and letting air flow through and around the house without relying much on mechanical devices to ventilate the interiors,” he explained.
It was also a challenge that their clients were based abroad so they had to deal with them mostly online. “So we made sure that plans and pictures were easy to understand even without us explaining a lot what we had sent,” Camello continued. After two months of design development and four months of construction, the house was completed.
It was another fulfilling job for both architects who had to get through different project hurdles and come out of it in flying colors, thanks to a well thought of design approach.
“Restrictions can either limit or expand what’s possible, depending on how you look at it. This pushes us architects to be more creative in our design solutions,” he said.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 22, 2013.