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A Weekend Home That Overlooks Taal Lake


The lot overlooked Taal Lake, so the natural move was to construct and design a house that would let as much of the outside in. “The view is incredible so it was important to create a layout that maximized the views from all the rooms,” says lead architect Anna Maria Sy, a partner at CS Design Consultancy, Inc., who works with partner Jason Chai, and associate Kenneth Chua.

“We wanted to create a sequential experience through the house,” says Sy, and explains how the house was designed. “At the entrance, you walk through a trellis that traverses a courtyard garden. Within this quiet space, there are only suggestions of a view. It is only upon entering the main living area that the views of the horizon and lake are fully experienced. On the lower level, a dramatic hall (bordered by the beautiful stone wall of the swimming pool) becomes another quiet and transitional space that leads to bedrooms, and at the end, expansive views once again.” The result is a cinematic unveiling of the surrounding views—the garden and pool, and the view of Taal from the Tagaytay ridge.

Weekend Home

The client, a couple in their late 70s, wanted a weekend home that could accommodate three adult children, their spouses, and four grandchildren. The house was designed to “feel like a country home with a contemporary aesthetic,” says Sy.

With an older client with more traditional tastes, she says there was “a deliberate choice to design a house with a traditional form (pitched roofs) but articulated in a streamlined manner.” The pitched roof and lofty, ribbed ceilings, along with the glass windows that line the walls of the home, make the house feel as if it is opening upwards and outwards.

The layout of the 750-sq.m. home is simple and informal, says Sy, which reflects the way the client lives. A weekend respite from the city, Balai Taal is a place for reading, relaxing, and spending downtime with the family after playing golf. Balai Taal is centered on the common spaces—the living and dining room, and the terrace, which open up to unobstructed views of the lake and its surroundings. The space where the family spends much of their time in naturally “has the best views,” shares Sy. The lower level, composed of bedrooms and a family room, was designed for the children and grandchildren of the couple.

When Old Meets New

The homeowners took charge of the interior design, and the end result is an interior that reflects the client’s diverse yet distinct taste. The all-white walls are paired with warm hardwood floors, a cle

an and sleek palette for the clients’ choice of furnishings. The pieces are eclectic, ranging from Asian-inspired sculptures and intricately carved lamps to large Orlina sculptures.

It is a seamless mix of modern and traditional sculptures, art and furniture. A Chinese brush triptych by the lady of the house fills one wall of the dining room. The furniture is simple and understated, shares Sy, and yet brings character and charm without competing with the unparalleled views.

The intent to blur the distinction between outside and inside is also evident in the choice of materials. Natural stone and wood were used in constructing Balai Taal. “The house is very cool,” says Sy.

Large windows let in as much light and breeze during daytime. There is cross ventilation on particularly humid afternoons, and the family enjoys the chilly breeze in the evenings. Each room in Balai Taal has at least one large window, allowing users multiple views of Taal Lake.


Function and Form

“Keep it simple.” That is Sy’s advice for homeowners looking to build a weekend home. Each design decision—the use of space, and choice of furniture and accessories—is purposeful and well thought out, aiming for a seamless scheme that is in harmony with its surroundings. The result is the charming Balai Taal, a weekend home so wonderfully simple, but is anything but ordinary.


Photographs by William Ong