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Architecture is determined by various factors - the climate, the contour of

the land, the materials at hand, religion, social, political and economic conditions,
scientific and technological advancement. Simplifying, architecture is determined by
the needs of the people in their time, the materials at hand and their aesthetic
Filipino Architecture is not indigenous. It is an admixture of the Muslim,
Malayan, chinese and Spanish influences. the indigenous tribes of the Philippines
which were quite a diverse group and of nomadic nature had little art of building to
speak of. Their architectural art was revealed in their houses of nipa, cogon and
bamboo. Although these simple buildings were not as enduring as the colossal
pyramids of Egypt nor as magnificent as the grand temple of Greece, yet they were
suitable to the tropical conditions of the islands.
The architecture of the Philippines is a reflection of the history and
heritage of the country. The most prominent historic constructions in the
archipelago are based on a mix of Indian, Japanese, Chinese, indigenous
Austronesian, American, and Spanish influences.
The late national hero for architecture, Leandro Locsin, said, The Philippine
Architecture is an elusive thing, because while it makes full use of the modern
technology, it is a residue of the different overlays of foreign influences left in the
Philippines over the centuries: the early Malay culture and the vestiges of earlier
Hindu influences, the more than three hundred years of Spanish domination, the
almost fifty years of American rule, the Arab and Chinese influences through
commerce and trade over the centuries. What resulted may have been a hybrid, a
totally new configuration which may include a remembrance of the past, but
transformed or framed in terms of its significance today. As a result, the Philippines
have become an architectural melting pot, uniquely Filipino with a tinge of the
The pre-colonial architecture of the Philippines consisted of the Nipa hut
made from natural materials but there are some traces of large-scale construction
before the Spanish colonizers came but not well documented. An example of this is
the pre-colonial walled city of Manila although later after the Spanish colonization,
dismantled by the Spaniards and rebuilt as Intramuros.
During three hundred years of Spanish colonialization, the Philippine architecture
was dominated by the Spanish influences. During this period, Intramuros, the walled
city of Manila, was built with its walls, houses, churches and fortress. The
Augustinian friars built a large number of grand churches all over the Philippine
During this period the traditional Filipino "Bahay na bato" style for the large
houses emerged. These were large houses built of stone and wood combining
Filipino, Spanish and Chinese style elements.
After the Spanish-American war, the architecture of the Philippines was
dominated by the American style. In this period the plan for the modern city of
Manila was designed, with a large number of neoclassical architecture and art deco
buildings by famous American and Filipino architects. During the liberation of Manila

by the combined American and Filipino troops in 1945, large portions of Intramuros
and Manila were destroyed. In the period after the Second World War many of the
destroyed buildings were rebuilt.
At the end of the 20th century modern architecture with straight lines and
functional aspects was introduced. During this period many of the older structures
fell into decay. Early in the 21st Century a revival of the respect for the traditional
Filipino elements in the architecture returned.
Brief History of Philippine Architecture


Caves and rock shelters like the

Tabon Cave in Palawan served as
shelters for the early Filipinos. Later
on the invention of various tools
allowed for the fabrication of tentlike shelters and tree houses.
Early pre-historic houses were
characterized by rectangular
structures elevated on stilt
foundations and covered by
voluminous thatched roofs
ornamented with gable-finials and
its structure could be lifted as a
whole and carried to a new site.
Examples include the Ifugao House, bahay kubo and the Maranaos
Mosques, the masjid and the langgal in
Tausug and Yakan or ranggar in Maranao,
Ifugao House
emerged as Islam was established in Sulu
(14th century) and in Mindanao (15th


In 1564, the Franciscans built the First
Hospital in the Philippines, Hospital Real.

The 1573 royal ordinance of

King Philip II, known as the Laws of
the Indies, was prescribed and stated
that every town was to have a
gridiron design (cuadricula) with a
central square (plaza).
In 1583, Intramuros was
destroyed by fire, requiring new
buildings to be constructed of stone
and tile.
Jesuit Antonio Sedeno
introduced stone and masonry
Implementation of the hybrid type
of construction called arquitectura
- wood in the upper floor and
stone in the lower floor;
- house posts or haligues supported the second floor;
- stone floors at the ground floor acted
Manila Cathedral
curtain concealing the wooden
and Plaza de
within, and;
- wooden pegs and dovetailed joints
the wooden structural system

as a solid

The bahay na bato, typically two

stories with
the ground level made of massive cut
stone or
brick walls and the upper level built of
emerged from the 17th to the 19th
The last quarter of the 19th century
the rise of accessoria (apartment
single or two-stories high and having multiple units called viviendas.
School buildings surfaced: the colegio or universidad (urban areas) and the escuela
primaria (pueblos), a cluster of multi-storey buildings in rectangular configuration
with a central courtyard.
The leading-edge technology available at that time was employed to build
ports, roads, bridges, lighthouses, waterways, piped water systems, railways and
street-car systems.


In 1902, the Americans introduced the use of the toilet via a pail conservancy
system, or cubeta in Manila. In 1908, the concept of a well-planned neighborhood
called Sanitario Barrio was introduced and led to tsalet, crossbreed of the tropical
features of vernacular buildings with hygienic structural principles and modern

In 1912, the Bureau of Health

endorsed several variations of tsalet.
American architects Edgar K. Bourne
and William E. Parsons, steered
Philippine architecture to the protomodernist route. Their works were
characterized by unembellished
facades with large windows. Daniel H.
Burnham, the Father of the City
Beautiful Movement, was
commissioned to design masterplans
for Manila and Baguio. Burnham
endorsed the appointment of Beaux
Arts-trained William Parsons as
Consulting Architect (1905-1914) whose
contribution to local architecture includes:

Metropolitan Theatre

the Kahn system of concrete

reinforcements and hollow-blocks;
the use of termite-resistive Philippine hardwood, and;
the concept for the mass fabrication of standard building types.

In 1906, the construction of the Asylum for the Insane in San Lazaro
instigated the use of reinforced concrete as the standard construction material for
all government structures.
Buildings that defined the pre-war skyline of Manila include the El Hogar Filipino
Building, Hongkong Shanghai Bank Building, Pacific Commercial Company Building,
Filipinas Insurance Company Building, China Banking Corporation, French
Renaissance Luneta Hotel, and the Mariano Uy Chaco Building.
Birth of first generation Filipino architects who were sponsored by colonial
officials to study architecture and engineering in the United States. Together with
the maestros de obras Arcadio Arellano and Tomas Arguelles, they combined Beaux
Arts elements aesthetic proportions, optical corrections with the influences of
modernism and the concepts of utility and honesty of architecture.
The second generation architects, namely, Andres Luna de San Pedro,
Fernando Ocampo, Pablo Antonio and Juan F. Nakpil, emerged in the late 1920s and
1930s and introduced the Art Deco, characterized by exuberant exoticism and
ornamentation, as evident in the following facades of buldings: ELPO Building,
Bautista-Nakpil Pylon, Metropolitan Theater, Santos House, and the Mapua House.
The three-year Japanese occupation grounded all architectural production to
a standstill.


In 1946, the independent Philippines

expressed its identity by implementing
modernism through the utilization of
reinforced concrete, steel and glass, the
pre-dominance of cubic forms, geometric
shapes and Cartesian grids, and the
absence of applied decoration.
In 1947, a corps of architects and
engineers were tasked to study the
modern US and Latin American capitals
and formulate the master plan for Manila.
Federico Ilustre, consulting architect from
the 1950s to 1970s, worked on the
buildings at the Elliptical Road in Quezon
City. The centerpiece is the 66-meter
high Art
Deco Quezon Memorial Monument,
composed of
Church of the
three pylons topped by winged figures
Holy Sacrifice (UP
the three island groups.
The 1950s and 1960s staple architectural elements were the brise-soleil
(sunbreaker), glass walls, pierced screens and thin concrete shells.
The post-war doctrine was Form follows function, professed by the third
generation architects, namely, Cesar Concio, Angel Nakpil, Alfredo Luz, Otillo
Arellano, Felipe Mendoza, Gabriel Formoso, and Carlos Arguelles.
The 1950s also witnessed Space Age aesthetics and Soft Modernism, which
experimented with the sculptural plasticity of poured concrete to come up with soft
and sinuous organic forms with the use of thin-shell technology. Examples are:
- Space Age: Victor Tiotuycos UP International Center and Jose Zaragozas
Union Church, and
- Soft Modernism: Church of the Risen Lord, Church of the Holy Sacrifice (UP
Chapel) and the Philippine Atomic Research Center.
In the 1950s, the height of buildings was limited by law to 30 meters. With
the amendment of Manila Ordinance No. 4131, a high-rise fever redefined Manilas
- Angel Nakpils 12-storey Picache Building, considered as the first skyscraper in
the Philippines.
- Cesar Concios The Insular Life Building, the first office building the old 30meter height restriction.


In the 1960s, Filipino architects
incorporated some modernist formal principles
by employing local materials and referencing
vernacular traditions:
- the Manosa Brothers Sulo Hotel and Esso
Gas Stations
- Francisco Fajardos Maxs Restaurant
- Felipe Mendozas Holiday Hills Golf Club
- Otillo Arellanos Philippine pavillion for the
1964 New York Worlds Fair

In the 1970s, Former First Lady Imelda Marcos pursued a singular national
architectural style to concretize the official maxim
Isang Bansa, Isang Diwa (One Nation, One Soul).
The oil crisis of 1973 to a movement for energyefficient designs called Tropical Regionalism:
- The Manosa Brothers San Miguel
Corporations Headquarter Building
- Felipe Mendozas Development Academy of
- Locsins Benguet Corporation Building
- Jorge Ramos GSIS Building



Exemplified by the
garish applications of pastel
colors and the mixing and
matching of ornaments and
Skyscrapers adopted
the tripartite division of
columnar architecture
(Tower-on-the-Podium): the
podium, the shaft and the
Rise of master
planned micro-cities like
Bay City, Eastwood City,
Fort Bonifacio Global City
and Rockwell Center, retail
environments SM Mall of
Asia, Gateway Mall,
Trinoma, and Greenbelt
Mall; and gated
communities of suburban
Global architectural firms bestow designer labels to megastructures like
Michael Graves World Trade Exchange, I.M. Peis Essensa Towers, Arquitectonicas
Pacific Plaza Tower, Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates LKG Tower, and Skidmore and
Owings & Merills Yuchengco Tower.
Architects were labeled
as late modernists and, later
as neo-modernists and
super modernists.
Inspirations were drawn from aircraft technology, robotics and cyberspace as
demonstrated by the One San Miguel Building, the PBCom Tower, and the GT
International Tower.
Reflective blue or aquamarine curtain walls, aluminum cladding, metallic sun
visors, and metal mullions are mainstays of millennium skyscrapers. Presence of
architecture of deconstruction, which is characterized physically by controlled
fragmentation, non-linear design processes, stimulating unpredictability,

Eastwood City

asymmetric geometries and orchestrated chaos like the works of Alexius Medalla,
Eduardo Calma and Joey Yupangco.
Advances in computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing
(CAM) technologies. Implementation of green architecture to reverse the negative
impact of buildings on human health and on the environment by enhancing the
efficiency and moderating the use of materials, energy and space.
Philippine Architecture Characteristics
The cross and the sword governed the destiny of this country for 400 years.
Missionaries from various congregations were given the task of building temples,
monasteries and convents. However, there are some features that were particular
to this process:
1. Indirect link with Spain
The far distance in the Iberian country prompted the
colonization of the Philippines was made from North and
South America.
2. Mestizo Architecture
The natives were skilled in the art of
building with bamboo and wood, but they did
not know how to use stone for construction
purposes. To this end, Chinese and even
Muslims buiders were summoned, imprinting
Arab influences in some churches in Cebu and
Manila, using native materials such as coral
and devising constructive techniques to
counter the devastation of typhoons and earthquakes.

Church in Ilocos

3. Juxtaposition of styles
Given scarce resources, and to the successive calamities, collapsed buildings
were not demolished, but rebuilt upon their foundations or walls.

Examples of Philippine Architecture:

National Museum
of the Philippines

Paoay Church in
Ilocos Norte

Paco Park
University of Santo

Jazz Residences
Ilocos Sur

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