Home Tour: A 500-SQM Tropical Luxury Abode Designed by Budji + Royal
Five hundred square metres for a lot is relatively modest. But in the expert hands of the architect Royal Pineda and designer Budji Layug, it is still a canvas for a creative project as stunning and imposing as one on an area twice or even four times this size. “Be it 500, or a thousand, or more, it is always a challenge to find that feeling of luxury,” says Royal, the other half of top architecture and design firm Budji+Royal.
What works for this project is that this corner lot is open at three sides: two into the roads and one into the park. Only one side has a neighbouring house.
“The owners wanted a house that will represent a blending of their personality and of our design approach: Filipino modern sensibility. They are young entrepreneurs and have only one son,” says Budji. Royal echoes this design directive of their clients and adds: “They also said, ‘We want you to play with it because we want your approach.’ These words about having the freedom to design are music to the ears of an architect and a designer.”
What emerged from the drawing board is a three-storey modern structure, exactly what the owners dreamed their house to be: young, open, luxurious, and tropical.
The ground floor comprises the living and dining areas as well as the open kitchen overlooking the pool and the garden. Sharing the space are the service areas and a three-car garage. “The space was made larger through the employment of mirrors and a double-height ceiling,” Budji shares.
The front door leads to a panoramic open plan. An arresting artwork in attractive Prussian blue, floating on a dividing wall, hints at more simple luxury pieces to come. “The art piece is the choice of the owner,” Royal says. “If they gave us the freedom with the architecture and the fixtures, we invited them to choose the loose items. This way, they work with us in adding their personal touch to their home.” From Budji: “The lady of the house loves the colour blue.” To the right of this space is the 10-seater dining table with a Kenneth Cobonpue chandelier of birds adding a tasteful touch. The dining area features a double-height ceiling. Beside it is the kitchen, which enjoys a view of the indoors as well as the outdoors courtesy of almost all-around glass walls. This is Budji’s favourite spot: “The floating counter also serves like a bar or a buffet for entertaining with a view of the pool.”
To the right of this space is the 10-seater dining table with a Kenneth Cobonpue chandelier of birds adding a tasteful touch. The dining area features a double-height ceiling. Beside it is the kitchen, which enjoys a view of the indoors as well as the outdoors courtesy of almost all-around glass walls. This is Budji’s favourite spot: “The floating counter also serves like a bar or a buffet for entertaining with a view of the pool.”
Farther into the space and behind the dividing wall is the living room, Royal’s favourite spot. “I really love the living room. I would constantly picture myself either entertaining or relaxing on my own. It is a very serene space. And practical as well. A parent can stay here and watch the children swimming in the pool. It is classic lanai living.”
To the left of the space is a cantilevered staircase leading to the second floor. Budji and Royal added a water feature under the stairs, sharing one system with the pool. The glass wall connects the landscape on this spot to the outside. For Royal, this water element makes the house special. “I love water. I love seeing it all the time. When I go up and down the stairs, I see water, and I can also touch it if I want to,” he says.
The adjacent pool, visually continuous with the indoor area while separated by a glass wall, was built with batu hidjao, a green stone from Indonesia. Evening lighting turns the green shade into jade. The indirect lighting (“The light source is not seen,” says Royal) refracts light, turning the whole pool into an organic lightshow, with no repetition. When the filter is running, ripples are created and they are, as well, reflected not only on the ceiling but on the floors and the walls. “It is dramatic. It feeds the soul. Something so fluid makes you feel the peace,” Royal enthuses.
Of course, this feature also cools the house and maximises the investment on the pool, according to Royal. “You do not use the pool all the time, but you can make it part of the ambiance of the house.”
On the second floor are the bedrooms and the study area. Bedrooms are noticeably minimal, spartan even. But the use of wood creates warmth and the glass allows, as in the first floor, the outdoors to come in- side. “The glass walls in the bedrooms create space and depth,” says Budji.
The third floor captures Budji+Royal’s favourite approach to a small area. “When a lot is small, I like making a third level with a garden. I love roof gardens,” Budji says. The two maximised the floor area. “Here we used the whole footprint of the house. The roof deck is the place to get fresh air, to see a more expanded dimension of the community,” adds Royal.
Apart from offering an incredible view of the surroundings, this third floor has functionality. Storage, laundry, and exercise areas can be found here as well. “This allowed us to build a pool and a lanai on the ground floor,” says Budji.
It is difficult not to stop and stare at this house. Clean lines and balance in asymmetry create an eye-catching façade. With clever indirect and back lighting, it turns the house into a shadow play at night, like the silhouette that the tree in front casts upon a blank wall. The effect is one of softness instead of a glare.
“I wanted to come up with a piece not just for the owners but for the community. Imagine if every architectural effort is like this [with the community in mind] you will have a beautiful city,” says Royal of their vision.
- Photography Marc Henrich Go