Though the architect Gil Coscolluela purposely designed his two-storey house to take up a compact perimeter of 500 square metres, he also made sure to keep an incredible sense of flow throughout. Refreshing drafts are a highlight of his home in the south, and certainly something to look forward to after a long day of work in the central business district.
This space is the foremost display of what Coscolluela refers to as the starting point of any good design—something that is practical and complements a person’s way of life. For him, a well-designed home is organic, a shelter that may evolve into something else in the future. “I made sure to plan according to our family’s current lifestyle,” he says, “but I always kept in mind that the space had to be flexible enough to accommodate changes as the years went by.”
It’s a concerted effort that takes into account the shifting needs of a young family. The open layout encourages time together, but also incorporates intimate spaces where each one can have a private moment. “The house fuses these two ideas of openness and intimacy seamlessly,” says Coscolluela. “One space flows into another, while also reflecting our interests.”
For example, the upstairs office gives husband and wife room to take care of their professional endeavours while the playroom is a haven for their two boys, complete with a well-stocked costume cabinet.
The home also displays Coscolluela’s personal fascination for contemporary art as shown through an animation mural in the garage by the Filipino graffiti artist Egg Fiasco, which features iconic characters such as Iron Man and Astro Boy. Another standout piece is a life-size Hulk-like sculpture called Temper Tot by the American contemporary artist Ron English, known as the “Godfather” of street art.
Coscolluela also has space reserved for a huge collection of art toys called “Bearbricks” that are made and sold in limited quantities and venues by a Japanese company. He now has 50 pieces of these rare bear figures, which are designed in collaboration with brands such as Marvel, Chanel, Kiss, and the Sex Pistols.
Among his other priceless collections are limited edition Lego and rare superhero figurines as well as paintings and kinetic sculptures by contemporary Filipino artists like Lao Lianben and Arnel Borja.
All of these unique pieces coexist with iconic furniture by Philippe Starck and Foscarini, among other renowned designers. A key piece in the living room is the iconic Serie Up or “Big Mama” chair and ottoman pairing by Gaetano Pesce for B&B Italia, which conjures up the image of a woman with a ball at her feet and provides the ultimate comfort. On the coffee table, Zaha Hadid’s Niche centrepiece for Alessi lends texture while Coscolluela makes use of a pair of Le Corbusier Sling chairs by Pierre Jeanneret and Charlotte Perriand for Cassina to flank a central art piece entitled Urban Landscape by Lito Carating.
“I personally feel that the look of a home should progress at the pace of its owners’ lives,” Coscolluela reflects. “After thinking about the layout, putting different details together to form a harmonious look is the fun part.” He cites a preference for modern classic furniture, but insists that it is possible to effortlessly put in a pop of colour, and to mix in quirky décor and statement pieces.
European craftsmanship is also featured extensively in the home simply because Coscolluela has observed that their furniture pieces are those that can truly stand the test of time. They fit into his signature linear style as well as reflect his sentiment about what a house should be: a representation of something that lasts.
While this thinking was inspired and encouraged by his growing family—his wife, Christine, and their sons, aged two and four—it was also something Coscolluela picked up early on in his childhood. “The house I grew up in had an open plan, which made everything accessible and comfortable,” he shares. “This is an idea I have reflected in my work and in my own home.”
It is also to his parents that he attributes his entry into architecture. His mother and sister are both interior designers, and his father is, of course, the famed architect Willy Coscolluela, still a workhorse at 83 and the principal architect of their family firm, W.V. Coscolluela Architects.
Together with his twin brother, also a practicing architect, Coscolluela is a senior partner at the firm, which has been involved in a variety of high-profile local and foreign projects. A team of 80 architects supports them as they immerse themselves in every aspect of the business—from design and production to finance and human resource management.
Looking back on all that he has accomplished together with his father and brother at the firm, Coscolluela shares that it was not his first intention to be an architect. “I thought I would be in business,” he says, “but I was also very exposed to my father’s work, which he truly lived and breathed.” Simultaneous to looking into small business opportunities before college, Coscolluela worked at his father’s office, which slowly got him into architecture.
He was particularly interested in the build-and-sell concept, which circles back to his design priority of creating spaces that work around their owners. His home showcases a balance between form and function, and applies many of the lessons he has learned about design, particularly about when to restrain and edit. “Various experiences have definitely helped me mature in my practice,” he says. “I guess you can say that my home hints at elements I have picked up from over 20 years of designing for others.”
Coscolluela has many exciting projects coming up at work that include a partnership with the British architect Norman Foster through his Hong Kong office, a fresh take on the Philippine Stock Exchange, and a collaboration for a new museum somewhere in the metropolis. Still, he shares that home life is on an even keel in terms of being wonderfully fulfilling. Since giving up apartment living two years ago for a place in the suburbs, he has been kept busy by small get-togethers with family and friends, frequent travels, play dates, swimming lessons, and many other happy occasions.
Right now, Coscolluela says that while he still has many things he would like to physically add to the structure, he is living in his dream home. “It may not have a large footprint, but it is a place of comfort where my family and I can enjoy the fresh air and open spaces,” he says. “There is room to imagine what the future will bring.”
Photography by Albert Labrador