The Future of Filipino Homes According to Foster + Partners, Designers of The Estate Makati
A new world is upon us: one that prioritizes physical and mental well-being, as well as one in which the idea of the modern home has been redefined. Stay-at-home orders have forced people to rethink their personal definitions of life at home, now that boundaries between work, home, and play have been blurred.
“The impact of the lockdown created a climate that suddenly allowed people to explore more radical ideas that previously were unthinkable," says Roland Schnizer, one of the partners at the multi-awarded British architecture firm, Foster + Partners. "The global lockdown forced people to narrow their physical horizons and rediscover their proverbial backyards."
Almost overnight, the world was all but remade. Schnizer notes, “Over the past 12 months, people have had to adapt to a new way of life almost instantaneously. Working from home has become the norm, and while offices will have a key role to play in the future are spaces for collaboration, the need for flexibility is paramount.”
While Foster + Partners have always been at the forefront of sustainable design prior to the pandemic, the firm feels it is of utmost importance as the world forges through unchartered territory: “The pandemic and its associated lockdowns around the world have put the need to develop a sustainable approach—greenery, open spaces, natural ventilation—into sharp focus. Sustainability has always been at the heart of the practice’s work and will continue to underpin our work in the future,” Schnizer says.
Masters of Innovation
The Pritzker Prize-winning firm has never been one to shy from innovation, redesigning the world as they envision it to be: sustainable, multi-purpose, and free from the confines of what would typically be a four-wall enclosure.
A recent study by CityLab, a Bloomberg subsidiary, asked people from all over the world to map out their lives under lockdown, revealing a consistent theme of local parks, gardens, and leafy streets, with buildings fading from view. Foster + Partners understands buildings are not just concrete structures which serve an immediate function, but are active participants in community and communal living. Schnizer adds, “Just as domestic spaces have had to accommodate the infrastructure of work, buildings in the future will need to embrace the uncertainty and be flexible enough to adapt to different uses...the working from home revolution could become the catalyst for a revitalization in the local communities. Vacant properties could become a new breed of community co-working spaces and other support functions to provide a much-needed change of scene from working in our homes. This would enable us to walk and cycle more often, lead healthier lives, and save time otherwise spent on commuting.”
Foster + Partners understands that a structure must serve multiple purposes: First, its intended purpose. Second, the purpose of elevating the lives of those directly using the structure. And third, to elevate the community it inhabits.
The Estate Makati, the Foster + Partners' first premiere residential development in the Philippines, fulfills the holistic view through which the firm sees its developments all over the world. It understands the family-centered nature of Filipino homes and integrates utmost flexibility into the structure: allowing the “homes in the sky” to grow with the families that inhabit them. The double-slab component built into all units allows homeowners to lay out and re-lay out any and all of the units into any configuration that suits their lifestyle best at any given point in time. The Estate Makati is also built in such a way that units can be combined through an unlimited number of configurations to account for growing families.
The Estate Makati also masterfully accommodates the varying levels of privacy that a Filipino family may require, giving homeowners various spaces to host any type of event, from the comfort of their own home, or within the property. Spaces within the property are able to accommodate numerous functions, be it the delivery of a party dress for their next intimate dinner, or important business meetings, casual drinks with friends, or even the celebration of a once-in-a-lifetime milestone. The development is designed so homeowners are able to play, lounge, work, and socialize, all within the property, at whatever privacy level is comfortable to them.
As with any Foster + Partners development, The Estate Makati is sustainably future-proofed through the use of vetted materials which cause no harm to the environment, nor the surrounding area, and are self-sustaining, lessening the need for additional maintenance. It boasts of several sustainable features including rainwater harvesting, energy-efficient glazing, waste management, and charging provisions for green vehicles.
Through the help of CREARIS, a Filipino landscape architecture firm, green space occupies 30 percent of the development, giving homeowners privacy, noise insulation, pollution absorption, reduction of the heat island effect, and the ability to connect with nature by simply stepping out of their homes.
“The connection between nature and physical and mental health is something that we have been investigating for a long time," says Schnizer. Studies suggest that biophilic environments–ones that incorporate real elements as well as those that mimic nature–exert a healing effect on the human body. it supports cognitive functions, physical health and psychological wellbeing, hence aiding the healing process. Schnizer says, “The need for people to interact with nature has been further highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Open spaces not only aid in social distancing, but they fulfill a fundamental role in fostering a sense of well-being in people’s lives.”
A Look Towards the Future
The Estate Makati had already been in development before the pandemic, so the structure's design is prescient in the ways it accommodates the ever-changing landscape of the world. The Estate Makati was designed with the idea of flexibility as central to the firm’s sustainable approach. The design’s inherent flexibility has allowed it to adapt to an unknown future—demonstrated by the changes in the way people live and work brought about by the pandemic.
The Estate Makati and the lens of sustainability through which it was designed and built came at the perfect time: “Over the last decades we have witnessed key shifts in public attitudes to ecology and energy consumption," Schnizer says. "Developments like this support and encourage heightened awareness on issues of sustainability. Our projects have always anticipated these trends, pioneering sustainable design solutions. Buildings that emerge as a response to their environmental context tend to have better performance standards, allowing users a more pleasant experience."