Sunday, June 2, 2013

PH Embassy’s green design is tourist attraction and environment leader in Brunei

By Tony Alabastro
Philippine Daily Inquirer
HOME IN BRUNEI The Philippine embassy in Bandar Seri Begawan boasts of environment-friendly features. Contributed photo/Raul Padernal
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN—A tourist attraction in Brunei’s Diplomatic Enclave is the two-storey Philippine Embassy Chancery with live plants growing on its walls.
The $2.5-million chancery stands on a 1.1744-hectare lot behind Brunei’s Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports building.
The first Philippine woman envoy to Brunei, Virginia H. Benavidez had worked for the acquisition of the lot in the Diplomatic Enclave and commissioned architectural firm Palafox Associates to design the Chancery.
The Philippine Embassy is the first building pedestrians and motorists will see when they enter the area from the main street Jalan Kebangsaan.

The design was in accordance with the latest environmentally compliant forms and styles and combined the aesthetic surroundings in an Islamic country like Brunei,” Ambassador Benavidez had said.
“The embassy is compliant in leadership in energy and environmental design, which means its design saves water; it is energy efficient, it uses less air conditioning, and it is environment friendly,” she added.
Felino Palafox Jr., principal architect and urban planner, said the design was inspired by the bahay kubo, a typical Filipino rural home. But it also fuses vernacular and international styles that incorporate the many facets of Asian architecture.
“The location of the courtyard allows passive cooling. In addition the structures are oriented along the east-west solar axis to minimize undesirable direct sunlight, while areas exposed to intense sunlight are provided with sun buffers.
“The buildings are also designed to have multilevel floor elevations following the site’s rolling terrain to minimize alterations to the natural topography. It has flat clay roof tiles, green walls, and natural stone cladding, among others.
“The green roof was used instead of ordinary roof slabs to dissipate the heat. The rooms were also arranged so that each is naturally lighted by day. Higher ceiling heights also provide natural sunlight to penetrate the inner areas of the building as in the case of the waiting area and the lobbies.
“The ‘tear-drop’ crystal chandelier represents oil. It is a symbol used by many oil refineries. As for the use of green for the walls, this color represents hope and growth. In Islam, the color is a sign of respect and veneration.
“Lastly, an antigo (antique) mirror symbolizes the old and rich culture of an Islamic country. The mirror also represents the phrase, ‘and also with you,” a Palafox Associates interior designer explained.
“Green design principles including green architecture, green urbanism, green energy, green technology, green infrastructure, green interiors, green furniture, green transportation, green manufacturing, and green sustainable development” are new global trends that the Philippine Embassy in Brunei mirrors.
The new Philippine Embassy chancery is designed to have all frontline offices—Consular, Assistance to Nationals, Philippine Overseas Labor Office and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration and Pag-Ibig beside each other on the ground floor, readily accessible to the public.