Constrained yet limitless

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014


PROBABLY just like any newly-wed couple, there is that optimistic outlook towards better things in life and in the case of the couple, a better future for their family.

There are colorful snapshots of parents with their children, happily taking their meals, having conversations and just enjoying quality family time in the comforts of their abode.

However, “dreams” come with expensive price tags more often than not. And architect couple Clive Aaron Guanzon and Ella Sanchez-Guanzon had this in mind when they decided to design and build their own house after they tied the knot in the summer of 2009.

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“We initially planned a one-story house with options for vertical expansion since it’s what our savings at that time could afford,” says Clive, who is the nephew of one of the leading architects in Cebu, Maning Guanzon.

“With our budget constraint and project-based income, we opted to utilize used shipping containers. We thought of using three to four units of it, purchase construction materials and just lock it on site if ever we needed to divert our manpower to other projects. It took us two years to refine our design, save enough to purchase the containers, make site preparations to receive it and finally kick start our project.”

In January 2011, three shipping containers were delivered to their property in Mandaue and were put in place for their final design: a two-story house. Because of placing a prime concern on budget, but still coming up with an appealing look, the architects were able to reduce the cost per square meter area considerably to about P12,000 per square meter from the usual market price of P16,000 to P30,000 per square meter. With excellent design approach and construction supervision, one can barely notice the alternative materials and construction techniques involved to save on cost.

“Instead of using expensive granite slab, we decided on a concrete finish sealed with clear polyurethane paint. On the ground floor, instead of installing drop ceilings, we just painted the concrete slab,” reveals the architect.

Apart from being designed on a budget, the house also radiates energy-efficiency.

The single slope roof design leads to a rainwater cistern that can supply water for laundry, cleaning and gardening.

“We average about 20 to 30 cubic meters of water consumption a month, which is pretty good for a house with five adults and three children,” Clive explains. Oriented towards the sunrise, the tropical features of the house are also complemented by high ceilings, large exterior reflective glass panels, screened ventilation slots, LED lights and frosted glass. They also created an indoor koi pond that extends to the entrance porch for a refreshing and welcoming feel.

The spatial arrangement promotes family interaction even during times when members are attending to their respective individual activities. Study and work areas are distinct yet reachable from the bedrooms. “We encourage our kids to see us work, and us seeing them study as well. Never should a day pass by without us interacting with them for at least an hour or two,” Clive says.

These architects both acknowledged the similarities in their profession to other art forms such as music, sculpture and painting yet there is more than meets the eye.

Clive adds, “It is not merely a statue to be viewed, but an artwork intended to be experienced. It should convey emotion, be it to feed the mind, cleanse the spirit, inspire awe and creativity, recharge the body and nurture relationships. It is also a reflection of the values of both the architect and the client.” And all these must not be compromised by budget or any other constraints.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 28, 2014.

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