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Photograph by Willian Ong

Gelo Mañosa is an architect of our times

Building on his father’s legacy in local architecture, Gelo Mañosa creates structures using Filipino traditions equipped with sustainable features. Here, he talks about a life so interwoven with his convictions
Anna M. Rosete | Oct 18 2018

Known for his crusade for green building in the Philippines, Gelo Mañosa has traveled from Bali to Vienna in the course of his work. His father, Bobby, renowned for putting to practice his dictum, “Filipino architecture for Filipinos,” left him a legacy that Gelo has used as a foundation on which he built his own design practice.

Whereas his father designed buildings driven by Philippine aesthetic and traditions, with the bahay kubo as the model for green structures, Gelo takes his dad’s signature a step further by adopting the best practices of sustainable architecture. Water conservation, renewable energy, and indoor air quality are all factors that the architect meticulously contemplates. He also views the world as a vast source of inspiration for design ideas. Now the CEO of Mañosa & Co., Gelo travels the world to look into sustainability practices he can adopt, one resort at a time.

As an architect, your work and research have taken you to places that are renowned for a particular style of architecture. Which cities have you visited for this purpose and what did you discover in them?

I’ve been to Sydney, the US, UAE, Kuala Lumpur, China, Italy, and Spain. Some towns were more memorable than others. I like looking at traditional architecture. I enjoyed visiting the Architect Gelo Manosa looks to the old for design inspiration old towns of China, Palau, and Bali because you could actually learn quite a bit from the past In Paris, I contemplated the reasons the buildings were beautiful.

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Dennis Rochel on Unsplash
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Diem Nhi Nguyen on Unsplash

What is it like to discover the identity of a place? How do you use this for your designs?

Architecture must always have a sense of place. So when we push architecture, we always say, Philippine architecture for the Filipino.

Tell us about your travels. What are your favorite destinations so far and what makes these places special?

Islands are always special to me. The raw natural beauty of an island somehow always captivates me. So do places that are rich in culture and traditions because that influences our design and our design thinking.

We’ve known you as an advocate for green architecture and a green lifestyle. What does it mean to live a green lifestyle and how does one practice it when traveling?

Well, the text book wording would be meeting man’s needs today without sacrificing his needs for tomorrow. When I travel, I walk, eat local. It’s not rocket science and it’s actually just good practice more than anything.

Which 5 places would you recommend people to visit for architecture?

Japan, Europe, China, Singapore, and the Philippines. I say the Philippines because we should be celebrating us. Sometimes it takes a foreign eye to appreciate what we have, like coco inlays. So you start defining what is yours and then they come to our country and then they have an appreciation of what is ours.

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SJ Baren on Unsplash

This story first appeared in Vault Magazine Issue No. 24 2018.


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