Multi-awarded Italian architect offers to draft rehab master plan for typhoon-hit areas

Tacloban city scale


MANILA – An Italian architect with an interest in green energy and sustainable architecture is offering to help draft the master plan to rebuild Leyte and other parts of Eastern Visayas hardest hit by super typhoon ‘Yolanda’.

Architect Romolo V. Nati, executive chairman and chief executive officer of ITPI (Italpina Euroasian Design and Eco-Development Corp.) said he is willing to work with local engineers in affected areas to build storm-resistant urban centers.

“I feel very sad for the Filipinos in Tacloban and Leyte who have to deal with the death and destruction brought by Yolanda, and I would like to help them get back on their feet,” said Nati, who has made the Philippines his adoptive home for four years now.

The Italian head of ITPI has partnered with Constellation Energy Corp (CEC),which has expanded its business from green energy to the design and development of sustainable buildings.

CEC has contracts with the Department of Energy (DOE) for several geothermal, wind and hydroelectric projects.

“Even as we grieve, we can move forward,” said Nati. “Now we have a chance to develop the master plans of the new cities and towns—sustainable plans that take into account the need to survive typhoons and build sustainable habitats.”

“It is possible to create master plans of cities and towns that have a much better chance of withstanding super storms and other extreme weather conditions that the world expects as a consequence of climate change,” he said.

Some features of sustainable habitats include proper zoning or concentrating living spaces in higher areas, in places 50 to 100 meters above sea level, and building dikes and storm walls, as well as drainage channels to facilitate the flow of storm waters into the sea.

“For buildings, we can also adopt what I call the ‘Aikido strategy,’ that includes adopting features that minimize the opposition of strong winds and storm waters,” Nati said. Aikido is a Japanese martial art in which practitioners don’t oppose their attackers head on but instead flow with the motion of the attacker to redirect the force of the attack.

Among these features are perforated facades and inner courtyards, both of which minimize the opposition of buildings to storm surges and strong winds brought by typhoons.

“Buildings can also be designed to withstand extreme conditions by adopting hydrodynamic and aerodynamic shapes,” Nati said.

“Of course building structures that are elevated from the ground will also help protect the building from flash floods during storms,” he said.

“For settlements along coastal areas, erecting buildings with all their load-bearing walls positioned perpendicular—and not in opposition—to the sea can help withstand tsunamis.  Open room-to-room designs that minimize obstruction in the event of overpowering flow of water can also help,” he said.

Nati said these storm-resistant features have been incorporated in Tower 1 of the Primavera Residences, ITPI’s mixed-use condominium complex in Cagayan de Oro (CDO) City, and helped it survive the deadly typhoon Sendong that flattened many buildings in CDO and in nearby Iligan City in December 2011.

Nati’s work has been recognized by many organizations around the world and has won him many international competitions, including the 2011 Design Against the Elements (DAtE) International Design Competition sponsored by the National Geographic Society, the Climate Change Commission, and the United Architects of the Philippines (UAP) with other institutions.

His “Coral City Concept” bested 200 entries from 50 countries and bagged the Special Energy Award.

He graduated summa cum laude in architecture from the La Sapienza University in Rome and has a Masters in Urban Landscape and Layers from the University of Tallin in Estonia.

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