The 4-in-1 House sits atop the rolling hills and lush green terrains of Talamban, located in the island of Cebu, Philippines. The lot given is a massive 959 sq.m, sloping downwards, facing the rising sun. The design challenge was to maximize the natural terrain, to create an architecture that is harmonious to the landscape. This idea becomes our main agenda, an opportunity to play with levels, volumes, and materiality alongside the natural grade lines of the site. The main level, sitting on the lower part of the hill, is subtracted by an elliptical void, becoming a space for a courtyard garden looking onto the landscape continuously.
A design challenge was to incorporate a continuity within all elements, expressed through a ribbon-like strip which twists and transforms itself into varying architectural nuances. Starting as a retaining wall which supports the lower gardens, continuing onto the balcony as the floor slab and moving upwards as a wall, later transforming itself into a cantilever which provides shade for the various lower ground spaces. The strip continues traveling across the lot area a second time horizontally until it finally ends as a wall again on the other side of the house. This creates a sense of harmony within the design: an exploration on the agenda regarding the polemics of fragmented yet congruent design elements within a single composition atop varying layers of topography.
The level above is dictated by 4 main volumes; these are the private spaces reserved for the family. It is designed in a fragmented manner, wherein the 4 volumes are separate from each other, but with a series of connecting spaces, allowing the outside to become part of the inside. The 4 volumes share a garden emerging from the upper terrain on the hill.
Another design feature is the two pocket gardens subtracting from the volumes containing tropical air filtering plants that also act as a transition space for the interior and exterior areas. It is both concealed and revealed by several wooden slats oriented towards the north east acting as a louver wall, allowing ample sunlight and ventilation to enter through the gaps, yet blocking direct heat from the sun from entering into the house. This also helps filter the air, should the occupants decide to open the window, they will be met by the tropical scents and cool breezes entering from the north eastern winds, taking advantage of the Philippines’ Amihan season.
The movement generated by the “in-between” spaces creates experiences on the hill instead of mere hallways. The shared balcony facing the east looks onto the lower garden and wraps the 4 volumes together. There is a dichotomy of nature and the built environment, embracing the beauty of the landscape, a dialogue between the hill, concrete, and wood. The design embodies a modern approach to the Cebuano family.
Zubu Design Associates is a progressive architecture and design studio lead by Principal Architect, Buck Richnold Sia and his Managing Partner, Jumax Morgia. Buck Sia started his own practice in the year 2005 and later on merge with Jumax Morgia at the end of 1st quarter of 2017. Zubu Design Associates already accomplished various projects from residential, commercial, institutional, hospitality, to interiors. Zubu Design Associates have also been featured in various publications, and Buck Sia was also named by BLUPRINT magazine as one of the top 20 designers under 40. Zubu Design Associates strives to be at least modern in all its works. This uncompromising quality makes the studio approach its works with serious thought process. This can be further detailed on how the studio value and work on progressive ideas, process driven design and justification through high technical details. Architecture and design should be an intellectual pursuit that can affect the experience of its users.