an ex­pan­sive space puts func­tion for fam­ily at the fore­front.

Town & Country (Philippines) - - CONTENTS / JUNE - By Ching­gay Labrador

This boxy mod­ernist home built by Ed Calma might be out­fit­ted in metal and glass, but it puts a fam­ily’s in­ter­ests first.

Ev­ery fam­ily goes through tran­si­tions and changes—the lucky ones find their mile­stones marked by homes that live to tell their story. one such fam­ily sees the lat­est chap­ter in their lives take place in a mod­ern three-story home decked in wood, metal, glass, and the sim­ple straight lines and right an­gles that ex­ist in be­tween. While the struc­ture may be new, its con­cep­tion be­gan long be­fore the prop­erty was pur­chased or the floor plans were set into blue­prints. The fam­ily be­gan sim­ply, mov­ing from one rental to the next, tak­ing them­selves from Que­zon city to or­ti­gas to makati. “When you and your hus­band are both in busi­ness, you tend to in­vest what­ever ex­tra funds you have. We de­cided to just de­lay buying prop­erty so we didn’t re­ally know ex­actly where we would live,” shares the wife. it also turned out as a ba­sic ex­per­i­ment—in or­der to find an en­vi­ron­ment that would even­tu­ally be the per­fect fit, it was nec­es­sary to try dif­fer­ent places out. The cir­cum­stances kept the fam­ily non-com­mit­tal, but made for a liv­ing sit­u­a­tion that was no-fuss and ser­vice­able. “in a rental, you’re forced to live within a space. no thought goes into the lay­out, the floor plan, and the lit­tle de­tails. it’s easy.”

The cou­ple had been mar­ried for about 15 years when the eco­nomic re­ces­sion turned for­tu­itous, al­low­ing them to fi­nally set roots. prop­erty in­vest­ment had al­ways been on their minds, but there was no ac­tive, on­go­ing search for a place—the sta­tus quo was al­ways to rent. With the drop in mar­ket prices, how­ever, came an ur­gent need to turn things around. “luck­ily, we saw an op­por­tu­nity and made a de­ci­sion.”

the shift from liv­ing in a pre-de­ter­mined space to build­ing their own home promised to be an ar­du­ous process. con­struct­ing from the ground up is never an easy task; and for a fam­ily whose in­cli­na­tions al­ways leaned to­ward the mod­ern rather the tra­di­tional, there was no other ar­chi­tect right for the job than Ed calma. “it’s a house that’s tai­lored specif­i­cally to us,” says the wife. “you see the boxy struc­ture, the lay­out, and you know it’s not your typ­i­cal home—but that’s a very Ed calma thing. it’s his style.”

The main pre­req­ui­site was open space and flex­i­bil­ity, which is the ba­sis for the u-shaped struc­ture of the home. The house is cen­tered on an open gar­den area, con­sist­ing of a man­i­cured lawn, well-ap­pointed green­ery, and a swim­ming pool. sur­round­ing it are three ba­sic wings, each serv­ing a spe­cific func­tion: public spa­ces which are fre­quented both by fam­ily and guests, a pri­vate space which con­sists of rooms ded­i­cated to use of the cou­ple and their three boys, and a pseudo bach­e­lor’s pad that’s de­signed to con­tain the man of the home’s in­ter­ests and ex­pan­sive col­lec­tion of books and wine. Ev­ery­thing is con­tained in an ar­chi­tec­tural shell that is sig­na­ture calma— ver­ti­cal lines, high ceil­ings, and spa­ces that flow flaw­lessly into one an­other. The home is pol­ish and pre­ci­sion with­out pre­ten­sion. its un­der­stated pal­ettes and min­i­mal fur­ni­ture, cu­rated art pieces, and well-placed em­bel­lish­ments show a propen­sity for func­tion above all. Ev­ery space serves a pur­pose; ev­ery element has its place.

there are two points of im­pact once you en­ter the liv­ing room: its three-story high ceil­ing and its breadth. a Ken­neth cobon­pue metal and bam­boo screen serves as an in­tro­duc­tion to the space, tak­ing visi­tors from the foyer into the ex­pan­sive liv­ing room that’s set in front of an in­door bas­ket­ball court (an homage to the hus­band’s old home grow­ing up),

which dou­bles up as a for­mal din­ing area on the rare oc­ca­sion that the cou­ple throws a din­ner or cock­tail party. The tran­si­tion is seam­less—ev­ery­thing from the black and white Zobel hang­ing in the foyer, to the grays and beige of the liv­ing room couch, to the white wall and hoop of the court looks like it all be­longs to one co­he­sive space. The fur­ni­ture is kept Euro­pean, mostly for prac­ti­cal con­sid­er­a­tions. “We needed to find pieces that fit the scale of the house. We couldn’t go for low-set fur­ni­ture or any­thing that was too frail,” she ex­plained. As a coun­ter­point to the western in­flu­ence, most of the dé­cor, in­clud­ing the art­work and sculp­tures, is Filipino. The mix be­tween east and west cre­ates a con­trast of sorts—the re­sult­ing tableau is both un­der­stated yet el­e­vated, sparse yet rich.

More en­closed rooms con­tained in the more public wing of the house are the din­ing room and kitchen, which the fam­ily uses daily. “We don’t have a ‘for­mal’ din­ing room be­cause we re­al­ized that peo­ple don’t re­ally use one,” she adds. As with all the spa­ces, ev­ery de­ci­sion was in­ten­tional. The din­ing room con­nects to an an­nex, which is used by the en­tire fam­ily. As the cou­ple runs their busi­ness from home, it some­times turns into a meet­ing or con­fer­ence room, or a study area for the chil­dren.

The pri­vate wing of the fam­ily is fur­ther sep­a­rated into func­tional parts—ar­eas for the fam­ily’s dif­fer­ent in­ter­ests, in­clud­ing a mu­sic room on the sec­ond floor over­look­ing the bas­ket­ball court, and a multi-pur­pose area on the third floor that is used when friends hang out and sleep over. Dur­ing school va­ca­tions, they spend a lot of time there, says the cou­ple. They value giv­ing their kids their in­de­pen­dence— hence the pri­vate space, which is also an earshot away from the bed­rooms.

Con­nect­ing these ar­eas to the bed­rooms is per­haps the struc­ture’s most widely used room, the study. “When kids grow up, they tend to re­treat into their own bed­rooms and

that’s some­thing we wanted to avoid. I think we were able to pull it off suc­cess­fully with this space,” the wife shares. It was a boon to the study that the in­ter­net sig­nal was weak in the bed­room area—most fam­ily time, there­fore, be­came rel­e­gated to the study, which houses an en­ter­tain­ment cen­ter, a work ta­ble, and both hus­band and wife’s of­fices. Ad­ja­cent to the study is a multi-pur­pose room that serves as the fam­ily’s makeshift din­ing area. Ac­ces­si­ble to the kitchen by a hid­den flight of stairs, it’s where the fam­ily have their meals when they don’t feel like head­ing down.

The fi­nal wing of the U-shaped struc­ture is linked to the bed­rooms on both the sec­ond and third floors, but has a sep­a­rate and more public en­trance across the gar­den and by the swim­ming pool. The des­ig­nated “man cave” of the struc­ture houses a gym on the first floor (the en­tire fam­ily is com­posed of gym rats) and a long-span li­brary on the sec­ond floor. With shelf upon shelf of floor-to-ceil­ing books as well as cozy seat­ing ar­eas to co­coon your­self in, the en­tire fam­ily can find them­selves flip­ping through pages undis­turbed in this area. Just be­side the books is a pri­vate cave con­tain­ing a col­lec­tion of wines. “At first, we just planned this space as a li­brary—we didn’t ex­pect peo­ple to be brought up for tast­ings and din­ners, but that’s some­times how spa­ces work,” she re­marks. “You can plan all you want for your home, but un­til you live in it, you can­not re­ally an­tic­i­pate ev­ery func­tion or need.”

It has been four years since the fam­ily moved into their home, but it is still a con­stantly evolv­ing space. “We wish we could have more wall space for paint­ings and a big­ger room for the wine col­lec­tion,” the wife says. Then again, the sparse­ness of their space al­lows the fam­ily to whit­tle things down to what they find most im­por­tant. With a place to live that is thought­ful and tem­per­ate, prag­matic and pol­ished, the pièce de ré­sis­tance is cer­tainly the house it­self. «

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