Construction breakthrough
Typhoon- and flood-resistant shelters for Filipinos

A Filipino-Italian company advocating green architecture has proposed the construction of houses and buildings that can quickly adapt and withstand typhoons, floods and other calamities due to climate change. 2013_sept3_estate1 Italian architect Romolo V.  Nati, Executive Chairman and CEO of ITALPINAS Euroasian Design and Eco-Development Corporation (ITPI), has put forward his Philippine coral-inspired designs to encourage Filipinos to build typhoon and flood-resistant shelters in the aftermath of destructive Tropical Storm Maring. ITPI’s coral design bagged the “Special Energy Award,” besting 200 entries from 50 countries in the Design Against the Elements (DAtE) global competition in 2011. The competition was supported and co-sponsored by the National Geographic Society, the Climate Change Commission, and United Architects of the Philippines. “Our role model is nature and its ability to solve problems and adapt to changes,” Nati said of his design that is based on the Voronoi Diagram, a mathematical way of dividing space into regions or cells, a characteristic present in the structures of corals. Here’s how Nati described his design: “Individual structures that comprise the development of the structure resemble different shaped coral cells, which fit together harmoniously, creating a concise but varied living environment.  This makes the development open, but not vulnerable to the natural flow of the elements.” “We chose corals for their self-organizing living system, which is highly capable of reacting and smoothly adapting to changes and external influences. Their ring-like shape, for example, allows for structural performances in relation to stresses caused by typhoons or earthquakes. They grow in colonies but in identical ‘individual’ (structures), taking advantage of the natural conditions of where they are located,” he added. Atty. Jose D. Leviste III, President of ITPI and Nati’s partner, stressed the need for Philippine shelters to adapt to the storms and floods that has become part of the daily lives of Filipinos. “We need to anticipate extreme weather conditions, as if they were not isolated cases, but the norm. In order to do so, we must approach developments under a different scale of values and principles, which will be reflected in our design and real estate developments,” Leviste said. Leviste also emphasized that “location is key, it is not enough to build great things – we must always remember the dialogue between the building itself and its particular location.” According to Leviste, ITPI has already proven its capacity to design and build climate change-adaptable structures after its pioneer development project Primavera Residences, a mixed-use green building comprising of two towers with 10 storeys each, withstood the deadly effect of Tropical Storm Sendong  that flattened a great part of Cagayan de Oro in December 2012. Calling his architectural proposal the “Coral City,” Nati said the project features an “integration of renewable energy production and architecture.” “The sun is the basis of all life on earth; it’s only natural to use its energy. To do this, we integrate PV panels in our architecture, turning them into features that beautify our buildings. We use them the same way we use cement and bricks – they are the parte integrante (essential part) of our architecture,” he said. Nati, who took architecture and graduated “summa cum laude” at La Sapienza University in Rome, has worked for numerous architectural and engineering firms in Italy and in the United States. He’s a multi-awarded architect, receiving numerous awards from international green architecture design competitions in Italy and other parts of the world. Set up in 2009, ITPI has partnerships with ICCP (Investment & Capital Corporation of the Philippines), LBP (Land Bank of the Philippines), BPI (Bank of the Philippines Islands), Habitat for Humanity Philippines, CARA Welfare Philippines (Compassion And Responsibility for Animals), PGBC (Philippines Green Building Council).
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