REVIEW Living harmoniously with nature has long



We live in a society where design is determined by its global impact, driven by commercialism and international style. The Philippines is not spared on this phenomena. Nowadays, designers create structures with no understanding of the built environment but focus more on structures that express their egos though buildings that are not climatically responsive (Mañoza, n.d.). Furthermore, the development of modern Filipino style is grounded on aesthetics, functionality, and commercial value which can be attributed to a radical exposure to foreign design influences.

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Today, the Philippine rural and urban landscape spawned numerous dwellings and building structures that were designed based on the popular style taken inspirations from countries with different climatic conditions. The rapidly growing metropolis has certainly destabilized the long-standing architectural practice of the traditional society (Lee & Lau, 1998). As a result, the vernacular and traditional buildings are being undermined and that the modern and westernized houses were over glorified as models and a status symbol. Moreover, these picture-perfect dwellings become dependent on mechanical and technological interventions since they were not built to suit the tropical climate of the Philippine Islands. As a result, these structures requires and consumes excessive use of non-renewable energy which creates greater damage to the natural environment. Notwithstanding these complications, inclination over these colonial architectural style were still favored by the locals.

The vernacular and sustainable architectural design does not offer the solution to the world’s problem on global warming, even to globalization. Susan Maxman, an advocate and expert on the principles of sustainable design, suggested that “sustainable architecture isn’t a prescription. It’s an approach, an attitude. It shouldn’t really even have a label, it should just be architecture.” Sustainable design and its practices is not a panacea to environmental issues but rather a belief and understanding on how to keep living in harmony with nature not just for the current times but for future generations (Kang & Guerin, 2009).

Living harmoniously with nature has long been practiced by the pagan and polytheist Filipino natives (Klassen, 1986). To date, evident practices can be traced to the indigenous tribes and villages throughout the Philippine archipelago on their distinct architectural formation, language, culture and the arts. These native practices are among the foundation of the vernacular architecture known today as bahay kubo, this humble abode is a testament to Filipino ingenuity, adaptability, and resilience (Encarnacion-Tan, 1995). It is imperative for designers to look back into the beginning of the Philippine architecture and delve into the logic and process of these primitive dwellings. This literature will synthesize the development of the built environment in relation to its sociocultural and socioeconomic factors, and sustainable practices typified in the construction of a vernacular dwelling in the Philippines. Local knowledge and cultural heritage must be explored and examined to inspire future generations of Filipino designers on how human interaction with nature and the ingenious methods of sustainability can be acquired.

The Philippines is blessed with an ethnic plurality, each society has its own set of customs and tradition on built structures according to its environment and needs. In contrast to the modern-day Philippine society, buildings are built grounded on aesthetics, functionality, and commercial value which is influenced by the hegemonic dogma of commercialism and international style. Under such condition, traditional and vernacular architecture is being undermined as obsolete, inferior, and irrelevant (De Leon, 1995). It is a daunting task to every Filipino designer to uphold the uniqueness of the local culture ingrained in natural diversity and instilling community respect, devoid of abandoning the idea and elements of modernity.

On the other hand, it is noteworthy to study the characteristics and practices of indigenous communities based on their local wisdom, innovation and skills and how can this be applied and passed on to modern societies following the principles of sustainable architecture.