A DESIGN for a storm-proof house has won for a Thomasian architecture graduate the top prize in a competition organized in response to the devastating effects of climate change.

Lara Therese Cruz bagged the award, which came with a P150,000 cash prize, during the Build Forward architectural design competition last May 28. Her entry was a design for a climate-adaptive house.

The recent typhoon Yolanda that clobbered the Philippines left parts of the Visayas region in ruins and called the attention of many organizations to lend a hand.

Many charitable institutions emerged but the Department of Science and Technology, together with the Ortigas & Company and Habitat for Humanity, found another way of helping to the Yolanda victims.

Spearheaded by these huge organizations, Build Forward opened its doors to architecture students and welcomed their cutting-edge ideas.

“My thesis is also about a climate-adaptive and disaster-resilient house, similar to my Build Forward entry. I was browsing online and that is when I saw their website and I immediately registered to be a participant,” said Cruz.

The inspiration for her winning entry is her thesis called LEAPHaus: Low-Energy, Adaptable and Passive House. Her study focused on sustainable site planning and new urbanism equipped with homes that could float even during extreme flooding.

“I proved that disaster-resilient design is essential in order to battle climate change. Only mine adapts well with flooding,” she said.

“I would say that this design is definitely suitable for the Philippine setting and it’s a combination of structural steel and indigenous materials. It has both strength and sustainability."

Moving forward

Cruz was inspired early to take up architecture because of her uncle and godfather, who were both architects.

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“I would watch him do his plates and I would get my notebook, pencils and crayons and join him while he is working,” she recalled.

Now that she's living the dream, Cruz has learned some valuable lessons along the way.

“Architecture is not always about aesthetics. It is more on how your design relates to the people,” she said. “It is also how your design is able to change the way people act and how they live. It’s our job to design forward, that is, to create and innovate.”

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