Passive But Green: The Smart Lifestyle


At Primavera Residences, there is an inner courtyard where the air, as it warms, rises up. The motion results to a natural breeze inside the building.


It is funny how millions of people pat each other on the back when for one hour every year they turn out their lights to conserve energy. And for the rest of the hours of the year, their air conditioners or heaters are turned on full blast.

It is therefore a challenge to everybody to live this energy-saving lifestyle every single day of the year. Not only will we walk our talk but also make amends with our finances by decreasing our electric bills. How can we do this? Let me present here the features of green architecture, specifically what is called a passive smart building. Smart not because it uses artificial intelligence but it conserves resources innately through its design.

Primavera is an example of these buildings with eco-friendly architecture here in the Philippines. As the first eco-friendly building in Mindanao, it features a geo-cooling system and a shadow-cooling system. Additionally, it makes use of a photovoltaic system to augment the energy needs of the building. Now what do these seemingly big words mean?

The geo-cooling system

The Primavera Residences simply makes use of the natural direction of warm air. We all know that warm air rises. Therefore, their buildings have external air inlets that allow cool air to pass through these into the building. Inside, there is a chimney outlet where the air, as it warms, rises up. The motion results to a natural breeze inside the building. Additionally, the apartments are situated so that they allow for cross ventilation.

The shadow-cooling system

What seem to be simple ledges on the facades of Primavera Residences are actually part of a carefully planned shading system. These ledges, when hit by sunlight would create shadows so that units that would have been otherwise exposed to direct heat of the sun are afforded the coolness of the shade. In addition to this, the solar panels installed at the top of the buildings not only provide additional energy but also provide an additional layer of protection from the sun.

In the competitive environment of urbanization, what has become of primary concern is the sustainable real estate development in the Philippines. With the changes in weather patterns and the more intense weather conditions, people should think beyond mere conveniences and plan for lifestyles that would maximize and at the same nurture the resources still with us.

Find out how a building can breathe on its own, and provide energy-savings for its residents. Click here.



Eco-friendly design strategies

inner courtyard

The Primavera Residences, ITPI’s first condominium in CDO, is one example of the company’s highly sustainable and efficient building design.

This two-tower mixed-use property has environment-friendly features, including an inner courtyard, as well as a cross-ventilation layout among the units that enhances natural airflow and light.

Shaded façades also minimize solar illumination on the windows and moderate the temperature inside each unit. Residents may reduce their use of air conditioning to as much as 32 percent.

Moreover, the building is designed to have photovoltaic solar panels to produce renewable energy for the common areas, and thus reduce the condominium costs for unit owners.

Primavera Residences is designed to target energy balance. On one hand, it reduces energy consumption. On the other, renewable energy features are applied to produce energy for the building itself.

Is your building earthquake ready?

This article was inspired by the recent earthquake that hit Central Visayas on October 15, 2013 around 8:15 in the morning. The epicentre was in Bohol, with an intensity of 7.2. In Cebu it was 7.

The quake was felt in the whole Visayas area and as far as the northern and southern provinces in Mindanao.

That morning, I arrived in Cebu. This was my usual monthly trip to the property my fiancé is managing. After settling in and freshening up, feeling beat from the flight, I tried to rest only to be awakened by violent shaking of the ground and an unsettling sound from outside the room.

Guests went to the nearest open space. My fiancé had his security and staff account for all the guests. They checked the rooms and the entire building for any damage.

Even a week later we still experienced mild to strong aftershocks which was really traumatic. We were fortunate that the building suffered only a few cracks. The structural engineer of the municipality certified that it was structurally sound and safe to resume operation.

The earthquake rendered Bohol and Cebu in a state of calamity, with over 200 dead and almost a thousand injured, and 73,000 damaged and/or destroyed structures. It was the deadliest earthquake in the Philippines in 23 years. The energy the quake released was equivalent to 32 Hiroshima bombs.

The Philippines, unfortunately, is situated along the horseshoe-shaped seismically active belt of earthquake epicentres, volcanoes and tectonic plate boundaries that fringes the Pacific Basin also known as the Ring of Fire.

With this in mind, is the building you call home earthquake-ready?

I have had several real estate clients before asking how far the development from the fault line is and could it withstand earthquakes. The answer, of course, really depends on the developer, the development, and location. Answers that must be disclosed by a conscientious real estate practitioner to the client whatever the answer may be.

I would like to share this video I found in YouTube that shows a test using an Earthquake Stimulator developed to improve the design of structural integrity of a building during an earthquake.




How neat is that?

According to the General Concepts of Earthquake Resistant Design, many common buildings and typical methods of construction lack basic resistance to earthquake forces. The key to resistance can be attained by the developer by following simple, inexpensive principles of good building construction. The compliance of the developer to these principles will avoid damage in relatively strong earthquakes.

Compliance will also prevent structural collapse and minimize damage. These principles fall under several categories, (i) planning, layout, site and foundation of the building (ii) layout and general design of the structural framing system with special attention to the furnishing lateral resistance and (iii) consideration of the highly loaded and critical sections with the provision of the reinforcements required.

According to Architect Romolo V. Valentino Nati, Italpinas executive chairman and CEO, the building he designed and which his company developed in Cagayan de Oro suffered no damage during the October 15 earthquake.

(Earthquake intensity in CdO was 5, with minor aftershocks)

He said the building is considered a “superstructure” “It is able to withstand strong earthquakes or typhoons not only through how it was designed and constructed but also because of its basic shape.  The building now is shaped like a “U” but when tower 2 is finished the entire structure will look like an “O” or a ring, which is the best shape a building can have to withstand strong tremors from the ground.”


Primavera Residences


The name of the building is Primavera Residences, the first and only internationally multi-awarded development in Cagayan De Oro. Arch Nati has a remarkable track record in design, architecture and real estate development in the Philippines and in Europe. His work has been recognized by many organizations across the world and he has won many international competitions.

With this in mind, I urge buyers to be proactive, do their homework, research the product they intend to invest on. Do not hesitate to ask about a project. Sellers on the other hand must develop extensive product knowledge before actually selling. I believe it is critical for real estate professionals to be conscientious and transparent when dealing with clients on the technicalities and facts a client must be aware of.

Choose your developer wisely, too. Trust a developer that gives quality over quantity and has a high regard for client’s best interest and safety.


For more information and details on Primavera Residences visit



Green building expert ITPI to builders: adopt ‘biomimicry’ to build smarter, sustainable cities

smarter cities8


Adopting the principle of biomimicry and undertaking performance-based design strategies — these are the keys to building sustainably in an environmentally challenged world.

That was the advice of an Italian architect and expert on green building and sustainable agriculture to builders, urban planners, government officials and various other advocates of sustainable development who attended the 2013 International Conference on Smarter Cities held last November 14 to 15 at the Diamond Hotel in Manila.

“By studying the process behind the creation of natural living structures, we are able to find patterns, which transform into design models needed to define architectural solutions,” said architect Romolo V. Nati, Executive Chairman and CEO of the ITALPINAS Euro Asian Design and Eco-Development Corporation (ITPI).

ITPI is a young developer that specializes in the design and development of sustainable buildings. Formed by Nati in 2009 in partnership with Filipino lawyer Jojo Leviste, ITPI invests most of its resources into an in-house research and design (R&D) department that studies sustainable architecture, as well as building in extreme conditions and challenging environments. ITPI is an affiliate of the renewable energy firm Constellation Energy Corp.


Adopting biomimicry — or the intersection of biology and technology — allows architects and builders to put up buildings that use water, energy and other resources efficiently, Nati said, even as he notes that the concept isn’t new and has long been used by the global defense industry.

Nati’s advice was part of his presentation titled “Eco-logic Architecture: Conceptualizing Buildings Differently,” which was given during one of five presentations under the theme Smarter Economy. The presentations were given during parallel sessions on the second day of the conference.

“Becoming sustainable requires a change in perspective,” Nati said. “We need to move from too much reliance on technology and from an inability to more adaptation to the local environment.”

The architect said this is needed because cities occupy only two percent of the world’s land mass but these account for 70 percent of harmful greenhouse gas emissions.

Nati noted: “Right now air conditioning in buildings worldwide consumes 1 trillion kilowatt-hours of electricity each year and by 2050, global consumption of energy for cooling could explode tenfold.”

“Increased CO2 emissions lead to increased energy consumption, which lead to climate change and environmental degradation,” he warned.

He said the solution was to follow nature and adapt more to the local environment by using local material and tapping local know-how when putting up buildings or other developments. He also advised sourcing power locally. “These wouldn’t only be a sustainable practice, but would also lower power requirements, as well as building and maintenance costs,” Nati said.

Performance-based strategies

Nati also recommended that architects and developers use the performance-based strategies that his company employs.

These include sunlight angle calculations for spatial planning optimization, wind analysis for spatial planning optimization and selective daylight internal computation for spatial planning optimization — all done by specialized software.

Organized by the University of the Philippines School of Urban and Regional Planning, the 2013 International Conference on Smarter Cities aimed to begin the public discourse on creating smarter cities in a world beset by overpopulation, rapid population growth, dwindling resources, widespread pollution, climate change and unrestrained urbanization.

The conference brought together builders, developers, engineers, planners and advocates of smart cities from across the world, who shared the ways that smarter technologies can be leveraged to improve the quality of life in cities.

Parallel sessions on six different main themes were held on the second day of the Conference:

  • Smarter Governance
  • Smarter Economy
  • Smarter Mobility
  • Smarter Environment
  • Smarter Planning and Design and
  • Smarter People and Living

Some of the more interesting presentations during the conference were:

  • “Project NOAH: Importance of Technology in Mitigating Hazards” by Mahar A. Lagmay of the UP- National Institute of Geological Sciences for Smarter Governance.
  • “Biofied Space Design – Toward Future Architectural Material, Energy and Integrated Information” by Akiko Watanabe of the Tokyo Denki University, Japan and “Smarter Urban Greening: The Philippine Context” by Arch. Paulo Alcazaren of PGAA Creative Design, Philippines / Singapore and “Landscape Architecture Trends in the Philippines: Ecological Planning as an Approach to the Sustainable Development of Disaster-Prone Sites” by Mary Ann Espina of the UP College of Architecture for Smarter Planning and Design.
  • “Smarter Money for Smarter Cities” by Felix Fuders of the Universidad Austral de Chile for Smarter Economy
  • “Urban Development and Groundwater Management in Asian Cities” by Karen Ann B. Jago-on, UP-SURP and “Planning City Extensions: An Approach to Achieving Sustainable Urban Development” by Christopher Rollo of the United Nations – Human Settlements Programme, Philippines for Smarter Environment
  • “DOST’s Smarter Health Care Program” by Jaime C. Montoya, Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Council for Health Research and Development for Smarter People and Living


How climate change is affecting lifestyle



Throughout the world landscapes are rapidly changing. The carving of mountains and the shaping of beaches have become abrupt, overnight miracles – or nightmares. This change has been brought about by the global change in temperature which has caused the weather patterns to be erratic, and recently, severe.

The island of Mindanao had seen better days when most of its areas were considered typhoon-free, experiencing mild, amicable weather. The tragedy of Sendong jarred not only Northern Mindanao but the rest of the island as well with torrential floods swallowing up communities. Just recently, typhoonYolanda with international name Haiyan slammed into the Visayan islands, decimating trees, homes and people’s lives. It packed winds of 235 kph (147 mph), gusts of up to 275 kph (170 mph), and a storm surge of 6 meters (20 feet).

The people started to be aware of the environment, of the depleting natural resources that have protected the land from devastation for so long.

It is not enough that we try to prevent further loss of our resources by preserving what is left. First, it is not practical as these are the sources of many of our basic needs. Second, preserving is different from conserving – the former being static, the latter being more active, enhancing.

It is therefore necessary that our lifestyles be molded to the advantage of the environment. For example, our basic need for shelter need not be too resource-extractive. Globally, there is already a move of opting for houses with an eco-friendly design.

In Cagayan de Oro, for example, a ‘green’ building had been put up which utilizes renewable energy and is structured with careful details based on the characteristics of nature. It utilized solar panels for its roofing and took note of the shades created by the different positions of the sun throughout the day to help maintain coolness in its interiors.

Another lifestyle change could be avoiding plastic bags when doing groceries or having take-away meals in Styrofoam. It adds to the pile of garbage, which, when not disposed properly, clogs the drainage system and adds to the problem of flooding.

There are several other things we can do to adapt to the changes and even mitigate the damage brought on by climate change. We only have to look closely at our natural environment and align our activities to its characteristics and movements.

Do you know that Cagayan de Oro is a pioneer in designing lifestyle with climate change? Click here to find out more.

Making spaces do more

People nowadays find it ideal and practical to live in condos, apartments, flats or pads with easy access to their daily living essential e.g. education, work and leisure that affords them amenities providing comfort and recreation all within walking distance. And because of higher demands to live in condominium developments, most developers sacrifice quality over quantity creating smaller living spaces.

Believe it or not according to the Design Standard and Guideline for Condominiums in accordance to the revised rules and regulations implementing the Condominium Buyer’s Protective Decree or PD 957, the minimum floor area for a single occupancy unit is 18sqm and a net of 12sqm provided that it is integrated in a highly urbanized location and for a family dwelling unit the minimum floor area is 36sqm and 22sqm for open market & medium cost projects. Seems such a small space to hold all our dreams but this is the supply and now businessmen and investors are attracted to purchase and venture into business like leasing their units.

So with this small space, what does a unit owner do? How can condo dwellers maximize their unit making space do more?

I have found this unique Scandinavian modern style furniture maker named IKEA that creates affordable solutions for better living with vast array to choose from living room and bedroom essentials, storage options, lighting, décor products, kitchen appliance and even pet care. And the amazing part is, it is now in the Philippines!

I have here a video clip from YouTube titled:IKEA Small Spaces- Small ideas. The clip showcases how to be creative in finding hidden spaces and using furniture that are multipurpose. It is amazing how they incorporated all this living ideas into a minimal space and transformed common spaces into a multipurpose area that as much as a group of six adults can enjoy. It is a matter of finding and using the hidden spaces, after all a dream home doesn’t need to be big, just smart.

For me an ideal home needs to be in a secure mid-rise suburban enclave located at a fair distance from the hustle and bustle with easy access to daily living essentials, units size meant for humans with natural lighting and ventilation features and well maintained amenities–just like the newest internationally multi-awarded development of ITPI, The Primavera Residences inside Pueblo De Oro township at the thriving “the city of golden friendship” Cagayan De Oro, a highly-urbanized and capital city of the province of Misamis Oriental in Mindanao, southern part of the Philippines.

Love to find your own smart spaces? Click here to find your dream home.

Nature: a source of inspiration for tomorrow’s buildings

The reason that Italian-Filipino company ITALPINAS Eco-logic Design and Development Corporation (ITPI) was founded at the beginning of 2009 was that its prime movers – Italian Arch. Romolo V. Nati and Filipino Atty. Jojo Leviste – both shared the same vision and passion in promoting sustainable developments in the Philippines.

“What we do in the present will change the future,” says Arch. Nati, Executive Chairman and CEO of ITPI. “We consume the earth’s resources as if they were built to last forever. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. If we don’t act on it now, these resources will someday run out.” As a real estate developer, the ITPI team takes it upon themselves to build a sustainable environment and a better world. To do this, they take inspiration from nature.


Nature provides the inspiration for eco-friendly, earthquake,  and flood-free structures


“Albert Einstein once said, ‘Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better,’” shares Atty. Leviste, ITPI President. “Nature shares with us each day the secrets of her beautiful, elegant, efficient and effortless creations; and these give us inspiration to design cost-effective and self-sustaining models, which we transform into architectural solutions.”



The performance-based design of Primavera Residences in Cagayan de Oro optimizes the building’s energy saving and producing aspects.


True to their word, ITPI can boast of their first mixed-use project, the Primavera Residences, which is located in Uptown Cagayan de Oro. Arch. Nati adds: “We gave particular attention to the design phase by following a strategy similar to what nature uses in evolving living structures: we call it ‘Performance-Based Design.’ This permits us to extensively study the project’s location to be able to optimize the building’s energy saving and producing aspects, delivering the best product to our clients and investors.” The emphasis on the design has allowed ITPI to reduce Primavera Residences’ overall environmental impact – from the reduction of energy consumption and optimizing construction techniques to its maintenance operations.

Through ITPI’s performance-based design strategy, they are able to come up with a well-performing building, which also happens to be beautiful. “We don’t design thinking about beauty; there is no such concept in nature,” explains Arch. Nati. “It’s the process that matters. We don’t design the form; we design the process that makes the form.”



In a termite mound, air gets drawn from the outside and circulated throughout the mound.


And with this came Primavera Residences – taking inspiration from a termite mound’s natural ventilation scheme, ITPI’s first project in CdO is able to cool the air from outside that gets drawn into the building. This air then is vented into the building’s floors creating a cross ventilation among the units inside it before exiting through the open space at the top, like a chimney. The constant air circulation, among other energy saving features of the building, results in a 32% decrease in air conditioner consumption. “Our design is a result of extensive research into the location of our project and its interaction with the different environmental elements,” says Atty. Leviste. “More than just a building, it is an entire system that enriches its surroundings and evolves through time with new components.”


At Primavera Residences, the constant air circulation, among other energy saving features of the building, results in a 32% decrease in air conditioner consumption


Aside from minimizing energy usage and being environmentally responsible, Primavera Residences is also known for its Italian design. It exudes modern and minimalist elegance throughout the entire building, whether in the exterior or interior.  “Other than benefiting from the high technology used in the design process, we also wanted our end-users to experience the Italian lifestyle without having to travel all the way to Italy,” says Arch. Nati. Partnering with Italian painter Nino Quartana, ITPI transformed Primavera Residences into an Italian gallery filled with Quartana’s work.



The work of Italian painter Nino Quartana graces the rooms and halls of Primavera Residences in Cagayan de Oro.


Nino Quartana, who is also a ceramist and stage designer from Sicily, began exhibiting his works in Italy in 1979. Since he moved to Manila in January 2007, his works have been featured in many local galleries, such as Galleria Duemila, Ayala Museum, the San Agustin Museum, and most recently, at Galeria Roces in Malacañang Palace. Aside from organizing exhibitions, Quartana has also conducted workshops in many parts of the country, from the city of Legazpi in the Bicol region to the city of Angono in the Rizal province, the Philippines’ art capital.


Partners JDL RVN 2Italian Arch. Romolo V. Nati and Filipino Atty. Jojo Leviste are prime movers in sustainable development in the Philippines.


His paintings at Primavera Residences, which, like ITPI’s works, are also influenced by nature, from their colors to their forms. Quartana’s works pay homage to the Philippines’ beautiful beaches. Although they are not explicitly represented, he is able to create the affinity between Italian impressions and Philippine landscapes just from the way he colors the sun, skies, seas and coral reefs.

His strength is his ability  to transmit to the viewers this particular image of nature. Quartana’s conceptual art, with its vivid clarity, transports his viewers into a whirlwind of spatial and ‘natural’ sensations that stir in new and unexpected emotions.

So step inside Primavera Residences and allow yourself to be carried away by nature. Buon viaggio!