Filipino students shine in interior-design competition

NOW on its fourth year, the Asia Young Designer Award (Ayda) 2017 Philippine leg of Nippon Paint (Coatings) has successfully unleashed the creativity of future Filipino architects and interior designers to craft the dwelling space and structure that would meet the needs of tomorrow, while displaying resiliency to last a lifetime.

Themed “You for Tomorrow: Future Living as Envisioned Today,” the annual competition of the paint manufacturer recently awarded four college students who emerged as the victors for a challenge to come up with sustainable designs that fulfill the requirements of dwellers and societies in the coming years.

In Photo: Diana Marie Manansala’s “Alpas”

“This year, there’s a lot of variety in terms of design. Some are very current that [they] currently address the requirement of the society,” Nippon Paint (Coatings) Philippines Inc. General Manager Michael Alfred Francisco told reporters at the sidelines during the awarding ceremony held in Quezon City.

Of the 1,200 entries this year, he mentioned that the students have generally shown their technical ability and foresight in an unconventional way.

“They are thinking right out of the box, and not approaching design in a traditional manner. But, hence, utilizing the other possibilities that they can do that can be applicable 50 years from now,” he said.

Amazed by the quality of entries they received, Francisco noted that young Filipino designers, apart from their social media and very millennial personalities, they also have a strong concept of how they want to shape their future.

This year’s gold winner for the architecture category was Marie Eirene Fabon of the University of the Philippines Diliman for her “Bigkisan”. “Vintahanan,” on the other hand, won for Edward Sarco of Eulogio Amang Rodriguez Institute of Science and Technology the silver accolade.

Marie Eirene Fabon’s “Bigkisan”

Likewise, major wins were awarded to University of Santo Tomas for the Interior Design segment: Diana Marie Manansala (gold) for project “Alpas” and Marigold Martinez (silver) for “Mabote.”

The gold winners in both categories took home P50,000 cash each, a six-month internship with Casas+ Architects, Idea Inc. and/or 8990 Holdings Inc. The silver awardees individually got P30,000 cash. The right remaining finalists went home with P10,000 each and special awardees for Best Green Innovation and Best Color were given P5,000.


POOR sanitation, extreme density and lack of proper public spaces of an urban slum are what inspired Fabon’s design called “Bigkisan” for an integrated livelihood and community center in Barangay 756, Zone 20 in Binondo, Manila.

“I think the No. 1 problem in the Philippines are urban slums. And I think as an architect, we have to address this problem first before anything that’s actually extravagant. We first need to even out the gap between the rich and the poor,” Fabon told the BusinessMirror.

Revitalization is at heart of this project that earned her the grand prize in the architecture category.

“I think what really makes my design strong is that the context of the site is really very detailed. I went to the site. I met with the community. I met with the people. I talked to them. And I think that’s what makes my design strong. By interviewing people, it gives me a knowledge of what they need. Because I know the community very well, I can respond to them also really well and effectively. And I think that’s what makes [it a winner],” she noted.

The plan for this project is to create a communal facility that will include spaces like a basketball court, which can also serve as events hall. There will be a meeting or conference area for mini-workshops, livelihood trainings and seminars.

On the top of it is a small-scale urban-farm garden, where the residents can plant and harvest their own produce or sell it to. The kindergarten building will also be retrofitted to accommodate a playground for the children.

Bigkisan is “self-built,” wherein the residents themselves will participate in the manual labor to construct the three-story structure using locally sourced materials. The design is made to be easily built, especially the parts where wooden pallets are utilized. The only concrete part is the foundation and the framing system of columns and beams.

What’s more, it boasts of its “green” features, with self-watering lanterns in the farm garden, solar panels, sewage systems, slow sand filtration system and a lot more.

According to Fabon, the idea is to educate and encourage the people to improve their economic status so that, eventually, they may have enough skill, knowledge and financial capacity to improve their situation and their community.

“It’s a community center and it’s for the community within the site. So its basically for the Parola community,” she said.

Alpas Sensory Center

IN the Philippines and in some part of Asia, sensory integration centers are uncommon. What’s worse, these facilities that are limited in number still need improvement.

With this in mind, Manansala designed “Alpas,” which holds true to its meaning “to break loose.”

This mental-health institution envisioned to rise in the Bonifacio Global City in Taguig, according to her, will be a place where people can become free of their stress and anxieties and give overall healing through the senses.

In her presentation board, Manansala said that this facility is aimed at helping end the stigma associated with mental health.

“The ignorance stops now. This is the future of the awareness and understandability of mental health in the Philippines and in Asia,” she said.

The Alpas Sensory Center boasts of socially and [environmentally relevant features. It will use bio-concrete that can last for two centuries and self-activates when damaged.

There will be a solar-power system installed on the roof that can cover up to 75 percent of power consumption. The center will also have a recycling system to properly manage waste and a self-sustaining irrigation system to take care of the property’s natural environment.

Here, everyone is welcomed with its simple and futuristic interior design. It gives off a vibrant yet comfortable vibe evoked by the use of dramatic lighting. The waiting area contains round armchairs and interactive screens to keep visitors entertained.

Entering the area of hydrotherapy pool is an experience in itself—thanks to these of a pool director software. A low-voltage tough screen loaded with 50 scenarios is running the sensory pool system. These scenarios have been designed for those with special needs using synchronized light, sound, aroma and video projection.

Kid-friendly, the soft play area provides a safe environment to stimulate the senses and encourage coordinated movement. There are also dark rooms fit for the visually impaired with its ultraviolet backlights, while the white rooms create calming and relaxing surroundings.

“In my opinion, flexibility is the one key component that must exist in future-proof designs because as time progresses, everything changes. Design must be willing to change to keep up with the times and satisfy the needs of the people. Design is not only about how it looks and feels, design is about how it works for the society and environment.”


FOCUSING on community resiliency and self-sufficiency, Sarco’s “Vintahanan” shows the strength of Barangay Dampalit in Malabon City to withstand calamities and continuous rise of sea level that brings this part of Metro Manila incessant flooding, as well as food security in vegetable and fish consumption via horticulture and aquaculture.

“[With] my design [of] Vintahanan, I make a solution on how to make a community not only self-sustain[able for] the future but can [also] self-propagate itself,” he said of his proposal.

Derived from Tagalog words Vinta (colorful ethnic boat) and Tahanan (home), Vintahanan introduces novel floating structures made mainly from their recyclable paper waste that can be turned to structural paper tubes to be used in the post and column structures of their homes. Since the site is close to the harbors, container vans readily available will be used as the main building material to the central space that will serve as a marketplace and communal space to the community.

What’s more, there will be for and most harvesting coconet as envelope, plastic bottles cooling wall, innovative wind and solar harvesting shed, helix-type wind turbine, and waste plastic bottle and drums as floating device. Since it’s vita inspired the design and color scheme mimics the colorful sails of Filipino tribes.

Deemed the country’s “Water World,” the community will have a main entry/pier, common space/marketplace, prototype multipurpose building, aquaponics facility, algae farming facility, fishpens and walkways with solar panels.

“This project not just only uses renewable energy as its primary source of energy, but is also envisioned as an iconic piece which can serve as an archetype for sustainable design, floating architecture and future-proof community,” Sarco said.


INSPIRED by the word mabuti, “Mabote” is an interior-design project of Martinez for a research and development center in Pasay City that studies the science and new technologies about various plastic waste materials and converts them to sustainable building materials.

In support of this goal, this facility center is designed to reduce the negative environmental effects of plastics completely by skillful, sensitive application. It has a monochromatic style, which creates a harmonious, visually cohesive look with the brand and nature.

Most of the materials used in the interior, such as ceiling finishes, wall finishes and furniture were recycled plastic waste products. Within the center of the building, there will be a big garden atrium to reduce energy use and more natural lighting to be utilized.

The room facilities are the laboratory room, conference room, seminar auditorium, administrative offices, visitors’ waiting areas and showroom. For easy access, the open laboratory is connected to the factory.

“Twenty to 50 years from now, the Mabotte Research Center is envisioned to provide huge contributions to both our society and Mother Earth,” Martinez said in her presentation board.

Big chance of winning

CONSISTENT in having the largest number of entries and competitiveness in the region, Francisco is confident that the Philippines will have a big chance of finally clinching the grand prize in the upcoming Ayda to be held in Malaysia in February 2018.

“Our young designers, comparing to the other 14 countries of Ayda, are leading in terms of participation. So in that manner, the Philippines is more competitive. And then, the students are more interested to explore and to take risk in their concepts. So our entries are more because they are very interested to show the world what they are capable of doing,” he said of the more than 1,000 entries where the creme de la creme were chosen.

“[We also] noticed that the participants, with the amount of time and research they put in in their works, from their written statements to their actual presentations, have evolved into very competitive representatives with their promising entries,” he added.

Fabon and Manansala—the gold winners in both architecture and interior-design categories—will represent the country in the regional competition. Beyond the chance of winning $1,000 cash each, they will get to experience the Ayda learning Program, an all-expense educational opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with their counterparts in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Hong Kong, China, Japan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Taiwan, Papua New Guinea and Sri Lanka. They will also attend exclusive sessions and lectures given by Asia’s leading architects and interior designers.

From its debut in 2008 in Malaysia as the Nippon Paint Young Designer award, Ayda has expanded to 15 countries. It was relaunched last year as Ayda to signal its emerging influence and scale in the region. In the country, Ayda Philippines started three years ago.

Image Credits: Roy Domingo

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