Architecture Philippines Guide: A Look at The Filipino Architecture Then and Now

architecture philippines

The Philippines is known for its pristine beaches and other picturesque tourist attractions that surely take one’s breath away. But there’s one thing that people usually forget about even if it’s worth looking at—Architecture Philippines.

About Architecture Philippines

The Filipino architecture is an interesting child of varied influences, both local and foreign. Before the modern architecture in the Philippines were a mix of American and Spanish colonial architecture in the Philippines that resulted in rich architectural feats we have today.

From the baroque churches to the famous buildings in the Philippines, you’ll easily notice the similarities and differences in the Filipino architecture that makes a great mix of notable designs. 

What’s inside this blog?

Whether you’re looking for neoclassical architecture in the Philippines or contemporary architecture in the Philippines, we got you covered so read this blog to discover the famous architecture in the Philippines.

Architecture Philippines History

bahay na bato architecture philippines

Photo credits to NCCA Official

While the Philippines is popular for its tropical climate and getaway destinations, those are not valid reasons to undervalue the architectural designs in the Philippines and ignore its beauty and story. You see, the history and culture of the Philippines are reflected not just in the traditions and values of the people but also in its architectural heritage that has risen in response to the demands of progress and the aspirations of the people.

All the examples of architecture in the Philippines today is the result of the growth, time, and varied influences of our neighboring countries and colonizers. It developed the pre colonial architecture in the Philippines leaving us with the Spanish architecture in the Philippines that you can see across the country especially in Manila architecture, Vigan architecture, and Cebu architecture. As a result, the country has become an architectural melting pot, featuring both uniquely Filipino and pre colonial architecture in the Philippines.

Traditional Filipino Architecture

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bahay kubo architecture philippines

Photo source: Wikimedia Commons

While Filipino architecture is a result of varied influences from other countries, the country also has its distinct architectural design. One significant style is the Filipino traditional house called Bahay Kubo also known as Nipa Hut. It is made of indigenous materials like wood or bamboo, nipa, grass, and other native materials. Many people know this by heart thanks to the Filipino Folk Song Bahay Kubo

The traditional house in Philippines Bahay Kubo is an example of vernacular architecture in the Philippines that is found in most lowlands all over the country. Its common features include steep roofs and houses kept off the ground or water with the use of stilts. The elevation’s purpose is to get through low-level flooding. The windows of the nipa house bungalow design Philippines then were huge and made of capiz shells, allowing natural lighting and ventilation to enter the house. And here’s an interesting thing about the Filipino traditional house: it can be transported from one place to another as a whole, instead of demolishing it and rebuilding it, through the community teamwork which is famously known as the Bayanihan culture.

In architectural designs in the Philippines today, you can still see the Bahay Kubo design applied to some establishments like cafes, restaurants, and hotels to give the Pearl of the Orient Seas a cultural identity and preserve the original example of architecture in the Philippines.

Modern Architecture in the Philippines

modern architecture philippines manila

The modern architectural designs in the Philippines have been strongly influenced by the American colonial period. You can see the American touch through the famous buildings in Philippines today like the ones in New York or Chicago. 

Western architects like William Parsons, Edgar Bourne, and Daniel Burnham were among the big names during the American rule when it comes to modern architecture. While we owe somehow the modern Filipino architecture to the Americans, their architectural impact was not as immense as the Spanish colonial era, as their grasp on the country was short and marred by international affairs.

When the Philippines had its independence, a new wave of Filipino architecture rose, as architects started adapting new styles and even merging the traditional looks of the old era structures into their projects producing some of the most famous architecture in the Philippines today. Now, the architects across the globe are pushing for eco-friendly architecture for their projects in an effort to counter global warming and Filipino architects are doing it as well.

Famous Filipino Architects

san miguel corporation building architecture philippines

Photo credits to San Miguel Corporation

Here are the top five Filipino architects who greatly contributed to the field of architecture in Luzon and across the Philippines. From applying contemporary architecture in the Philippines to modifying the traditional house in Philippines giving it a unique touch, these Filipino architects are worthy to be recognized.

1. Leandro Locsin

The Poet of Space

Famous works: Cultural Center of the Philippines, The National Theatre building, Folk Arts Theater, Philippine International Convention Center

2. Ildefonso P Santos

Father of the Philippine Landscape Architecture

Famous works: Makati Commercial Center, Paco Park, Nayong Pilipino, Tagaytay Highland Resort, the Mt. Malarayat Golf and Country Club, Orchard Golf and Country Club, San Miguel Corporation Building

3. Pablo Antonio

The pioneer of modern Filipino architecture

Famous works: Neoclassical architecture in the Philippines like Galaxy Theatre, the Far Eastern University, Manila Polo Club

4. Juan Nakpil

A pioneer and innovator in Philippine architecture

Famous works: Manila Jockey Club, San Carlos Seminary, University of the Philippines Administration & Library, Rizal Shrine, Gala-Rodriguez Ancestral House, University of the Philippines Los Baños Old Humanities Building, Rizal Theater (since demolished; the site is occupied by Makati Shangri-La, Manila), University of the Philippines Theater and carillon tower

5. Francisco Mañosa

The outspoken champion of indigenous architecture

Famous works: San Miguel Corporation Headquarters Building, The Coconut Palace at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, the Edsa Shrine, Amanpulo and Pearl Farm resorts

Frequently Asked Questions About Architecture Philippines

Q: What makes Filipino architecture unique?

A: When we think of famous architecture in the Philippines, bahay kubo always tops the mind. Bahay Kubo reflects the ingenuity and resilience of our ancestors giving the Philippines a cultural identity.

Q: What is the traditional house in Philippines?

A: Bahay Kubo also known as Nipa Hut is the Filipino traditional house. It is made of indigenous materials like wood or bamboo, nipa, grass, and other native materials. 

The traditional house in Philippines Bahay Kubo is an example of vernacular architecture in the Philippines that is found in most lowlands all over the country. Its common features include steep roofs and houses kept off the ground or water with the use of stilts. The elevation’s purpose is to get through low-level flooding. The windows of the nipa house bungalow design Philippines then were huge and made of capiz shells, allowing natural lighting and ventilation to enter the house. And here’s an interesting thing about the Filipino traditional house: it can be transported from one place to another as a whole, instead of demolishing it and rebuilding it, through the community teamwork which is famously known as the Bayanihan culture.

Q: Who are the famous architects in the Philippines?

A: Here are the top five Filipino architects who greatly contributed to the field of architecture in Luzon and across the Philippines. From applying contemporary architecture in the Philippines to modifying the folk architecture in the Philippines giving it a unique touch, these Filipino architects are worthy to be recognized.

  1. Leandro Locsin
  2. Ildefonso P Santos
  3. Pablo Antonio
  4. Juan Nakpil
  5. Francisco Mañosa

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