Typhoon-adaptable green shelters help Pinoys adapt to climate change

AN Italian-Filipino company advocating green architecture has designed houses and buildings that can cope with typhoons, floods and other calamities brought by climate change.

Italian architect Romolo V. Nati, Executive Chairman and CEO of ITPI (Italpinas Euroasian Design and Eco-Development Corporation (ITPI), has put presented his coral-inspired designs to encourage Filipinos to build typhoon and flood-adaptable shelters in the aftermath of destructive calamities sweeping the country.

“Our role model is nature and its ability to adapt to drastic changes in the environment,” Nati said of his design based on the Voronoi Diagram, a mathematical way of dividing space into regions or cells, a characteristic present in the structures of corals.

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 supported and co-sponsored by the National Geographic Society, the Climate Change Commission, and United Architects of the Philippines.

“Individual structures mimic various shaped coral cells, which seamlessly fit together to create a concise albeit varied living environment. Thus, it’s open to receive the benefits of good weather but not vulnerable to the natural variations of the elements.”

“We chose corals for their self-organizing living system, which is highly reactive and smoothly adaptable to changes and external influences. Their ring-like shape, for example, allows for structural integrity which can cope with 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.

Lawyer Jose D. Leviste III, ITPI President and Nati’s partner, stressed the need for Philippine shelters to adapt to storms and floods that have become part of the daily routines of Filipinos.

“We need to anticipate extreme weather conditions as the ‘new norm.’ Thus, we must approach developments with a new scale of values and principles that will be inherent in our design and real estate developments,” Mr. Leviste said.

Mr. Leviste also emphasized key role of location. “ It is not enough to build great things – we must ensure there should be synergy 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 project Primavera Residences, a mixed-use green building comprising of two towers with 10 storeys each, withstood the fury of Tropical Storm Sendong and Typhoon Pablo which lashed Cagayan de Oro barely a year apart in 2011 and 2012.

Arch. Nati said the “Coral City” 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 tap its free energy by integrating photo voltaic (PV) panels in our architecture but as the same time using them to beautify our buildings. Like cement and bricks – they are the parte integrante (essential part) of our architecture,” he said.

Arch. Nati was graduated “summa cum laude” with an architectural degree at La Sapienza University in Rome. He has worked for numerous architectural and engineering firms in Italy, Europe and in the United States, receiving numerous awards from international green architecture design competitions in Italy and elsewhere.

Set up in 2009, ITPI networks 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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