sTep inside a con­Tainer van home wiTh a laid–back, reTro archiTecTural sTyle and Ja­panese space-sav­ing Tricks

Real Living (Philippines) - - Real Living -

See how this cou­ple―both ar­chi­tects and surfers― max­i­mize a small space with touches of Ja­panese aes­thet­ics.

h ow thirty-some­thing newlyweds Buji and Nikki found them­selves liv­ing in La Union, where none of them has roots, is a story worth telling. Both from Manila, they came to La Union to try surf­ing. Like many oth­ers who have taken to the sport, they fell in love with the wa­ter and never wanted to leave. “From day one, I was hooked. I fell in love with La Union right away,” Buji says. Surf­ing was also what brought the two to­gether. Both ar­chi­tects, Buji and Nikki first came here a few years apart in the early 2000s, but their paths even­tu­ally crossed as they joined the closely-knit com­mu­nity of surfers in the area. Last year, the two were mar­ried—at a beach wed­ding, no less.

For eight years, they lived with about 10 to 15 friends in a two-bed­room apart­ment so they could stay close to the beach. They went back and forth to Manila for work, but they had their per­sonal be­long­ings and surf­boards stashed in this apart­ment so they could catch some waves any­time they're in town.

It seemed the most ideal liv­ing ar­range­ment un­til the owner de­cided to ren­o­vate. “Nawalan kami ng tira­han,” Buji re­lates, but he wasn’t just about to up and leave the town that had become his sec­ond home. “I brought my Kombi van, and we lived in that for a year. Nakiki-park

lang kami sa mga ho­tel. So­brang sarap. Nag-en­joy ako mat­u­log sa van na yun,” he re­calls. Nikki says that it was set up in such a way that they could live com­fort­ably in it: “May elec­tric fan, konting cur­tains, ku­lambo.”

Even­tu­ally, they got wind of a prop­erty for sale in the area. As if a fore­shad­ow­ing of things to come, there was al­ready a ship­ping con­tainer at the site. In true bayani­han fash­ion, their surfer friends helped move the ship­ping con­tainer, and Buji and Nikki got down to work on their new home.

It was the per­fect ma­te­rial to start with. Buji has al­ways been a huge fan of the 1950s and ’60s, par­tic­u­larly the ar­chi­tec­ture, fash­ion, mu­sic, and cars of the era. “Parang happy days yun for me. So­brang nos­tal­gic. Mahilig rin akong

mag-col­lect ng lumang gamit. Even my ar­chi­tec­ture is very rem­i­nis­cent of the golden years,” Buji says.

From that sin­gle ship­ping con­tainer, they de­cided to ex­tend it to ac­com­mo­date a guest room and a garage. “Bin­u­tasan namin for the win­dow, and tinaas for the roof,” de­scribes Buji. “We’re also very fas­ci­nated with clean lines. Eh yung con­tainer, very lin­ear siya. It’s a box, puwede mong paglaruan yung stack­ing.

Ang in­spi­ra­tion ng ba­hay namin is a mix of Cal­i­for­nia and Ja­panese style. May pagka-mid-cen­tury,” he adds.

At that time, they had no plans yet of putting up Ves­sel Hos­tel, which cur­rently stands next to their house. “Nag-leave

lang kami ng space,” says Nikki, but that space turned out to be the per­fect fit for the hos­tel (see p.18). The design of the hos­tel is based on con­tain­ers as well. The lay­out of their 70-sqm home is care­fully planned, ev­ery inch of its space ef­fi­ciently used. There are no solid par­ti­tions, so the liv­ing, din­ing, and sleep­ing ar­eas flow seam­lessly in one open space.

Liv­ing so close to the ocean has its perks, the most ob­vi­ous one be­ing that they can head to the wa­ter to surf when­ever the waves per­mit. “Kaya kami tu­mira dito para maka-surf, so im­por­tante ta­laga sa amin yung surf­ing. Be­ing by the beach is so in­spir­ing,” Buji ex­plains. So in­spir­ing that it also gave birth to a cloth­ing line called Coast Thru Life in 2012. The store is be­ing moved from Manila to the re­cep­tion area of Ves­sel Hos­tel.

This in­spi­ra­tion that the two surfers talk about so pas­sion­ately is re­flected es­pe­cially in the ar­chi­tec­ture of their home. Their space ex­udes a laid-back feel, a char­ac­ter­is­tic of­ten as­so­ci­ated with the surf­ing life­style. But Buji is quick to clar­ify:

“Akala ng mga tao, pag surfer, beach bum, walang gi­na­gawa. Pero hindi lang nila alam.”

Nikki says that as soon as they wake up, their sched­ule starts get­ting crazy. (Liv­ing right next to their place of busi­ness is a big plus.) Buji takes care of the main­te­nance and on­go­ing con­struc­tion at the hos­tel, while Nikki replies to inquiries and book­ings. When night­time comes, they fo­cus on their Mani­l­abased projects.

Whether designing or surf­ing or at­tend­ing to hos­tel guests, Buji and Nikki are sim­ply over­joyed to be able to do all of those things right here where they feel most at home. “So­brang sarap to design your own home. Kung anong gusto mong gawin, puwede. Dito, nakaka-re­lax kami. Nakaka-fo­cus,” the cou­ple says. RL

the owner haS al­wayS been a huge Fan oF the '50S and '60S, par­tic­u­larly the ar­chi­tec­ture, FaSh­ion, mu­Sic, and carS oF the era.

air of nos­tal­gia The use of slid­ing doors not only saves space but also al­lows for good ven­ti­la­tion. Upon en­ter­ing the house, all eyes are on this type of ver­ti­cal wooden lat­tice ac­cent wall which has a very vin­tage feel, hav­ing been used ex­ten­sively in houses in the '50s and '60s.

“Wala siyang masyadong solid par­ti­tion, puro glass and slid­ing doors para di siya masyadong com­part­men­tal­ized,” says Buji of the open lay­out.

STAND­ING IN­VI­TA­TION. "i liKe how The TangUile wooD SlaTS have DiFFerenT ran­Dom ShaDeS which re­laX mY eYeS when i loUnge on The coUch [or while waTch­ing Tv]," BUJi SaYS.

1. NO LOOSE ENDS. In place of cabi­net doors that will make the kitchen look cramped, strings tied from end to end keep es­sen­tials se­cure on open shelves..

2. OLD MEETS MOD. Mod­ern light switches in a color that matches a nearby elec­tric fan con­trast against vary­ing shades of tanguile wood.

3. RIGHT AN­GLE. Wooden lou­vered cabi­net doors mir­ror the style and hor­i­zon­tal ori­en­ta­tion of the home's jalousie win­dows. 4. MID-CEN­TURY MATCH. Square white tiles, com­ple­mented by the lin­ear prints on hand­tow­els in this vi­gnette, are among many mid-cen­tury design el­e­ments found in this home. Find sim­i­lar tiles at Wilcon De­pot.

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