The Personal in the Creative: Architect Basa Shares her Preferences in Designs

entry no 5 Salvaged Wood Revolution_smallSalvaged Wood Revolution. Behind this dramatic title is the simple but very important act of one community in Surigao del Sur.

“The community makes use of the driftwood abundant in their waters,” said architect Marianne Basa, the winner of the Earth Day Photography Contest of the Primavera Residences.

On a vacation in Surigao del Sur, she and her companions got interested when they chanced upon a group of men crafting beautiful implements from scraps of wood.

“As we were driving along the coast of the province, I saw so many driftwoods,” said Ms. Basa. “I found it such a waste to have all these really good wood just floating, unused. So I was interested when we saw these men actually turning them into beautiful works of art, or at the very least, functional things.”

The rich textures of the photo, surprisingly, are in contrast with Ms. Basa’s architectural character. “I love modern and minimalist designs, with spaces really maximized,” she said.

Big windows. This is what she immediately says when asked for her preference. “It’s airy, and gives ample light,” she said. Maximizing the habagat and the amihan, she says it is lucky for her that she is based in a province with cool temperatures.

She is also optimistic about Bukidnon – her base at the present after doing architecture work in Singapore for some time. “There’s no question if the people here can afford it – there are a lot of potential clients,” she said. “The current bottleneck though is that they are not yet educated about the benefits of having an architect design their house. They think they could save by doing their own designs. What happens is they have really huge houses but the spaces are not maximized, the features are not in harmony. But it’s a challenge I am willing to take on.”

For cramped spaces in urban centers, she recommends height. “High ceilings are very good for ventilation,” she said. “Also, I really recommended high levels in the house. My designs always have a set of staircase. It’s basic. Warm air goes up so there’s movement of air if you have levels. And for wall-to-wall houses, my advise is don’t fill your space with things. It will stifle the air circulation.”

But she says she really does not have a particular style or a designer she would recommend. “You have to be flexible,” she said. “Your client’s preferences differ. One may not like modern designs. And I don’t want to limit myself.”

Her preferences for interiors though are a different story, more reflective of her flair for contrasts and highlights in her photography. Her office, she shared, is a mixture of hot pink and purple. “I am very kikay,” she said. “My building designs are minimal but what I like to put inside the rooms are different.”

Not different from what the community had been doing, Ms. Basa likes salvaging materials from old houses to form them into something new and unique. “I have recycled old scaffoldings, for example, and put them up as feature walls for example,” she shared.

The preference for talk pieces and quaint interiors reflects in her photography that she does as a hobby. Admittedly, she prefers shooting portraits and macros to landscapes and street shots. For this reason, she was not very confident in joining the photography contest of Primavera. “How can I put in the theme in portraits?” Instead of joining the landscape bandwagon just to satisfy the theme, she took her portraits to a higher level to convey something deeper than the textured skin she captured.


She and her husband of three years sometimes accept requests from friends for a very low price she says it is really like doing it for free. She loves shooting pre-nuptials that include designing. “I like working in themes,” she said. “I like dressing up the people I am to shoot.” Again going back to her contrasts, she is especially fond of going for elaborate dresses and makeup when the background is simple like a bodega or a bahay kubo.

In her work as an architect and with her family engaged in construction, she prefers to have her photography as a past time.

“I don’t want to get pressured,” she said. “If I do it as a hobby, I find it fun and interesting. But if I make it as my living, it would be different. I might be constrained with my personal expression to satisfy my clients. But my husband is really encouraging me to pursue my photography. He’s a huge fan,” she laughs.