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Reminiscent Of An Origami Crane, This Modern Home Was Designed With A User-Centered Approach

The advertising world’s power duo, David and Angel Guerrero, worked with Architect Denise De Castro of DEQA Design Collaborative to build a home that reflects values of sustainability and wellness

The structure’s sharp angles are reminiscent of an origami crane and it doesn’t quite sit perpendicular to the street like its neighbors. Its owners David and Angel Guerrero - an influential couple in the advertising world - were thrusted to build it after a fire destroyed their previous home. This gave them an opportunity to build something that reflected their values of sustainability and wellness.

The couple worked with Principal Architect Denise de Castro of DEQA Design Collaborative whose user-centered approach help build a home that would be unmistakably the Guerreros.

“With Denise, she understood us. She asked us a hundred questions each which is like consumer insight,” Angel explains. Questions such as where the couple gather inspiration, who their design heroes were, what values were most important to them helped guide the design of the home.

“What I realized was that you can have conversations and conversations but there are a lot of questions you don’t ask in your first meeting.” Denise realizes that knowing who you’re building for and how they will use the space is a crucial part of the design process.

Since sustainability was one of the top priorities on the couple’s list, Denise studied the light and wind path that was specific to the plot of land. This dictated how she could optimize the structure’s natural light and ventilation. The roof facing south is equipped with 20 solar panels optimally tilted to a 15 degree angle to get the most sunlight. “The orientation of the house was adjusted to maximize the roof so that it can face directly south. So that’s why the angle happened to work in this way. You never have to turn on the lights even though it’s really late into the day because of the orientation and you don’t get the heat of the sun.”

One might think that the house’s orientation and sharp angles would pose problems in decorating the space, but Angel disagrees. “It made it aesthetically interesting when your house is not parallel to the street. For me it was like you can have functionality and aesthetic work together hand in hand. Moving the house a different direction didn’t impair how we wanted to decorate the house.”

There were other benefits to shifting the house off the parallel axis of the street as well. According to Denise, “It maximized the open space. So we were able to get more garden in the back by doing this orientation which also lent itself to having the house open up on as many sides as we could.”

The generous open space in the back accommodates a lap pool that the family uses regularly (David even swims during lunch breaks in between Zoom meetings), an edible garden (containing kamias, pea vines, and betel leaf that Angel uses for her cooking), and three coconut trees which hold a hammock.

“Originally we wanted the pool to be much longer, but to make it longer we had to remove the trees. It was a long debate, but we saved the trees,” Angel shares.

With the house situated in front of a school, privacy was another issue. Previously one could see through their house whenever they would open the front door. Now the house has a more pared down facade with a main door that is not readily visible to passerby. A small courtyard adorned with encaustic tiles not only connect the kitchen and the dining area but act as a light well.

The dining room is surrounded by sheer, white curtains all around (a nod to the Sanderson Hotel in London) and can easily be drawn to open up to the living area. The dining table is an heirloom piece from David’s father and can be extended to seat 16 people. For someone who loves to entertain, Angel uses the table’s length for her elaborate tablescapes. Her spacious kitchen is well equipped with plenty of counter space and Italian-made Scavolini cabinets to store her themed dinnerware. There’s even a shelf for her collection of colorful tiffin carriers.

The couple’s love for books is evident when you enter their library on the 2nd floor. All the books were painstakingly measured by linear meter to determine the design and number of the shelves. “This library is actually a collection of books that have been in the family for a long, long time. These three artworks are actually word clouds from the books we publish - Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. The words that are most mentioned get bigger fonts,” Angel points at the framed prints on the wall in the library.

In the primary bedroom next door is an old four poster bed made of teak from their previous home that faces trees and the Makati skyline. Two white columns rise through the room. “The structure is earthquake proof,” Angel shares. Also displayed in the room are a series of lithographs by Filipino-Italian artist Otto Sacramento entitled “Head Maze - Fill It With What Matters”.

Photograph by Jar Concengco

One can appreciate the natural light in every room during the day which wouldn’t be possible without the research and expertise of the team the couple worked with. “There are many people who employ architects. But I’m sure there are some people who think that they can do this themselves, and I can’t imagine that it would be worth all the emotional and financial investment if you didn’t have someone to guide them,” David adds. “If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that everything has to be based on science and knowledge.”

While some may think that when you add large windows or high ceilings to your home that it may just be for style or for the sake of being modern, that isn’t necessarily true. “We live in the tropics and you want to build for that environment. You want to be connected to the outside, you want to have light, wind and air,” says Denise.

Of course there are many ways to approach design and this conversation is continuing to evolve. For David, he hopes that people can look at this structure and somehow be able to take away something, “What is the function of a private home tucked away in a subdivision is that it can provide some inspiration and other people might use some of the ideas that are contained here - such as the orientation of the house, maximizing light and minimizing heat, the simplicity and lack of ornament - which I think is important. A lot of ornament gets put on for no reason at all. The most hoped for impact in my mind is that somehow it has influenced or contributed to the conversation of design. People can look at it and say, “Oh you can do it like this.”