On the hillside of an exclusive development in Batangas, one property stands out in the row of Mediterranean-style houses. Rather than a massive villa reminiscent of the opulent Riviera lifestyles, this one-house glass box overlooks expansive views of the South China Sea. If you have nothing but the horizon in front of you, surely you wouldn’t want to spoil the view with concrete walls?
This was the concept presented to the design team of architect Gigi Gonzales and designer-artists Tony Gonzales and Tes Pasola: a home that would reflect the luxurious, laid-back lifestyle of its owner, and maximize abundance. of the nature that surrounds it.
The mistress of this mansion is Ovah Rumohr, a divorced mother of three, who, after living a pampered life abroad, returned to the Philippines. She built the house of her dreams with the help of Gonzales and Pasola, who are her friends.
Pasola says, âOvah is a dream client. She is open to novelty and we can take advantage of it. It is not strict in this sense.
Gonzales agrees: âIt’s a very nice project. It’s like building our own house.
Construction on the house began months before the supertyphon “Haiyan” hit the country in 2013. It was found to be informative on how the wind would affect the house, as well as indicating the need to reinforce the glass walls. from floor to ceiling against inclement weather. From that point on, everything was slow and steady for the next two and a half years, as the team oversaw construction and crafted unique pieces to complete the project.
The property itself has a tough setup. Part of it rests on the side of a hill. Rather than building the house at the same level as the top of the hill, with the whole structure supported upwards, it was built downwards, following the natural terrain of the property. What was only a small lot gave space for five floors, bringing the area to about 700 square meters.
Indeed, this was a new solution, and on paper it might sound weird. But the finished house testifies to the ingenuity of the architect.
The third floor living and dining area is at the top of the hill, while the bedrooms and open terrace rise over two floors. Two additional floors below are the kitchen and garage, as well as a utility area. There is still enough space to build another story below the hill; for now, it is used for outdoor barbecues and other activities that require open space.
The house, seen from the main entrance on the third floor, hides its peculiarity, its glass walls, since flowering plants and trees surround it. The greenery was supposed to protect the interior. Where the sun shines the most, metal panels have been placed to serve as a sunshade. And in rooms that require the most privacy, like in toilets and bathrooms, there are screens that can easily be pulled up by pulling ropes.
Rumohr says she really wanted a house that gave her a 360-degree view of the community. Her bedroom overlooks Fuego Island, while behind her she could see the nearby Nasugbu Beach. Wherever you are on the property, the magnificent view of a calm sea will overwhelm you.
A picture window from a door in the living room overlooks the infinity pool which faces the sea. Originally designed to be composed of transparent panes to provide an unobstructed view, it has been reinforced with steel and enhanced with travesÃa wood found in the lumber yards of the province. Flaming trees that bloom a fiery red during the summer months line one side of the property.
For a touch of greenery around the pool, towering leaf taro plants provide a refreshing break from the blazing sun. Creeping Charlie’s lines add coverage where it’s needed, while fragrant flowers grow here and there for bursts of color and scent.
The pool is also different from most pools. It’s a quadrant, just enough to fit the space allotted to it. Rather than laying tiles flat on the edge and floor of the pool, they were cut at an angle and arranged to form a raised diamond pattern. There is no risk of tripping and slipping in the pool, as the layout of the tiles provides traction.
Like a beacon for ships
At night, with all the lights open, the house is like a beacon for ships and other vessels passing over the horizon. It’s like the bare light bulb in a lampshade.
All around, Pasola and Gonzales made pieces just for Rumohr’s house. In the dining room, huge plates of galvanized iron have been hammered into the shape of taro leaves. With fixtures arranged in and around the leaves, the room is ablaze with cozy light. Likewise, the dining table is a heavy three-meter slab of wood resting on steel legs that resemble a sculpture by Arturo Luz. The chairs themselves were custom made by Bulacan artisans. Their iron-framed backs may seem too puny to support the weight, but they’re actually comfortable.
All over the house, organic shapes serve as a benchmark for the design of furniture and accessories. A red painted metal frame in the shape of corals hides an air conditioning unit. The sofas and chair use rattan bands that evoke a fusion of traditional materials and modern styles.
In the staircase leading to the bedrooms, lamps use natural materials. Pasola’s lamps with paper inserts cast a soft glow at night, while carabao horns assembled to resemble a bamboo bouquet are strategically lit for a unique fixture. Scattered all around, unique chairs testify to Filipino design. –CONTRIBUTED