Harmonizing opposites

CONTRASTS evoke a different kind of aesthetic. The convergence of contradictory elements in design creates interest and vigor in buildings, a quality that was already in the design consciousness of architects especially during the post-modern era of architectural history.

While the simplicity and reduction of a building down to its most simple elements practiced during the so-called age of modernism of the early 1900s resoundingly answered the issues on economy and practicality of building, the style soon gained its harshest of critics. Monotony and lifelessness became serious issues in the design. Different architects then presented their own interpretations of how to bring back life and variety in their works.

Fast forward to the present, a young Cebuano architect has religiously carried with him, the lessons in architectural history and theory to his fledgling practice. Architect Kurt Joseph Orillo has just completed one of the first and most important commissions of his career—a house for his parents which is located inside a subdivision in Talisay City—reflecting a “modern” contemporary minus the humdrum consequences of a minimalist approach.

“Throughout the design process, the concept brought about an oxymoron: private yet open (design),” said Orillo, as he started to elaborate on his work. “It was essential to have privacy from the outside of the property while still maintaining the feeling of openness inside of it. The goal was to avoid the feeling of being caged (inside the building) despite having a perimeter fence,” he added. The minimal obstructions and the prevalence of glass sliding doors inside the house promote the modernist principle of interpenetration of exterior and interior space.

The flexible 90-square-meter interior was a plus especially for his parents, who regarded the house as somewhere they would finally settle down. Together with its single-storey set-up (thus, no stairs which could be a physical hassle to old people), the house enhances convenient mobility and accessibility to the different areas and rooms. Coupled with the use of durable materials like concrete and steel and the “classic” black and white hues, the house is expected to preserve its stylish character through many years. The architect calls it “future-proof” design.

The choice of materials used in the building exterior provided for another oxymoronic display of design elements. The usually heavy-looking concrete and steel were made to look lightweight in the massing of the building. “The horizontal planes of the facade were intended to appear to be levitating. This was mainly brought about by how the elements and materials were arranged in the design. The project is a product of creative freedom and was greatly influenced by my preference for modern aesthetics which the client and I share,” the architect explained.

The house in itself stands out among the other residences surrounding it. Again, contrast comes into play allowing it to stand out not just with its minimalist look and an immaculate white skin but also with the way its designer dared to connect “opposites” to a harmonious architectural composition.
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