The Evolution of the Bahay Kubo: The Native House Design of the Philippines
The nipa hut is considered as a national symbol of the Philippines. It comes in a variety of names that range from kamalig to the more popular term bahay kubo. It is often associated with the rural areas of the country, specifically highlighting the Austronesian cultures of the Philippines. The bahay kubo even inspired the widely popular folk song often sung in schools. In terms of tradition, it is used to symbolize bayanihan or the sense of community.
Nipa huts were made long before the Spanish colonial era, and they were designed to withstand the strong tropical winds during the monsoon season. As time went on, the native house design has transitioned from using bamboo plants to utilizing stones and pebbles to build what is locally called bahay na bato, which became prominent during the Spanish occupation. Today, designers from the Philippines and around the world have added a modern touch to the traditional bahay kubo. The examples below illustrate just how far this humble Filipino icon has gone.
Modern Native House Design of the Philippines
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The Philippines encounters a wide array of climate changes, from harsh typhoons to heat waves. Building bahay kubo has become their way to protect themselves from nature’s wrath. It has been proven that the bahay kubo, having a sturdy foundation and support, is strong enough to withstand all this.
There is no specific design for the bahay kubo; its style and construction is known to vary throughout the Philippines. Customarily, most bahay kubo are on stilts, and the living area is accessed by ladder. This naturally divides the house into three areas: the living area in the middle, the area below known as the silong, and the ceiling known locally as kisame.
Filipino architect Joven Ignacio advises owners of any bamboo living spaces to be culture-sensitive to the province or area they live in. “Culture of a people is very important . . . look at the behavioral patterns of the ones who will be living in it, the historical background of the family,” says Joven. “If your family grew up in Metro Manila, iba ang kultura, mas harassed, yung nasa labas ng Metro Manila, medyo laidback.”
The walls of nipa hut’s living area are typically made of light materials. The thatched roof is often constructed out of nipa, anahaw, or other local plants.
If you wish to construct a nipa hut for you and your family, always consider the materials used as well as the area where you plan to put up the home.