Modernism as Method and Madness

Manila Bulletin, October 5, 2010 | Go to article overview

Modernism as Method and Madness


Modernism remains an architectural theme that some Filipinos would rather not flirt with. There is something about the white walls, the blank, unassuming facade, and the sharp, angular lines that can make us pause and draw an intake of worried breath. Most of us are raised to see the house as a symbol of achievement (that one has made it) and a place for guests whose opinion about where we live we consider important. Modernism's apparent severity, hostile to drapery and ostentatious furniture, easily dismantles those notions.But with the diminishing space in the metro and the need to spend less and conserve resources, a modern house makes perfect sense more than ever. Unlike the popular Mediterranean theme with its home-by-the-sea aesthetic, a modern house can ease itself into a small cut of land. The absence of ornamentation makes it easy to maintain. And given modernism's minimalist streak, one doesn't have to clutter it with furniture and other bric-a-brac.Such is the house of Ely Buendia (who needs no introduction) featured as the cover story in the September-October issue of Homestyle, currently out in newsstands and bookstores. Buendia went a step further by leaving the walls raw and untreated with paint (a nod to modernism's edgier cousin "Brutalism"), the beams and some of the wiring exposed, and by using industrial-looking features such as metal staircase and doors. "I was kind of surprised at myself that I never really knew that there was such a thing as Modernism in architecture," Ely tells the premier home and design magazine. "And, I just really was into concrete, minimalism, clean lines, open spaces, the outdoors. And when I was doodling way back then, parang ganun lang talaga 'yun lumalabas, eh. If you look at the earliest sketches, parang ganito na talaga. It was simple and straightforward."The house's simplicity, however, has a measure of creative madness. …

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