Casa Borbon: A Brutalist Style Retreat Blends Beautifully with Tropical Landscapes

Casa Borbon: A Brutalist Style Retreat Blends Beautifully with Tropical Landscapes

Casa Borbon: A Brutalist Style Retreat Blends Beautifully with Tropical Landscapes

/ Batangas, the Philippines /

/ Story: Kangsadan K. / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Jar Concengco | Design Will Save the World /

Characterized by charm, good looks stripped down to the bare essentials, a two-story mountain retreat embraces the beauty of imperfection of brutalist architecture. From a distance, the rough appearance of raw concrete enhances the building’s exterior and façade rising above terraced contours that follow the natural descent towards the lush green landscape below.

Thanks to trees creating a camouflage privacy screen, a brutalist style mountain retreat merges harmoniously into the dark green of a wooded hillside outside Batangas City, the Philippines.

Located in Batangas, a city two hours by car to the south of Manila, the quiet vacation getaway named “Casa Borbon” is the brainchild of Cali Architects, an architectural practice based in Baguio City. It offers 77 square meters of living space nestled among trees and wooded hills. It was a difficult job, but the design team led by Amon Cali was able to create a home that merged into the countryside, a place advocating thoughtful use of the landscape and keeping the environment exactly like they found it.

A drawing of the master plan shows the positioning of a brutalist style home built into the hillside, hemmed in by trees that have been jealously preserved. / Courtesy of Cali Architects
A longitudinal view of the house plan in cross section shows the positioning of living, functional and utility spaces in relation to elements of nature in the surroundings. / Courtesy of Cali Architects

Made for cozy simple living, the brutalist style home boasts generous wall openings that admit plenty of natural daylight and cool breezes into the interior. As the architect intended, it exudes an air of raw, vibrant personality evidenced by what appears to be bare concrete surfaces and stark geometric shapes. By emphasizing honesty and natural materials, it blurs the boundaries between indoors and outdoors; meanwhile, treating functionality as more important than architectural embellishments.

Stark geometric shapes paired with the exterior devoid of embellishments create a unique look that gives the home warmth and a touch of nature.

But there is more to it than meets the eye. Where appropriate, polystyrene wall cladding is installed. It’s a lightweight material that’s resistant to water and moisture, plus it’s able to withstand a wide range of extremes of the seasons. Because it’s easy to install, the builders were able to complete the project in just eight months.

Taking everything into account, the house plan embraces minimalist interior design. On the ground floor, the dining room at the center gives an impression of the positive energy of family life. Nearby, tall glass walls separate the living room from a small dipping pool with poolside deck furniture. The second floor holds a more private area consisting of a sitting room and two bedrooms with balconies overlooking breathtaking landscapes.

A plunge pool and deck area with furniture lie between growing plants and the living room enclosed by glass walls.
A simple poolside chair blends seamlessly with the minimalist outdoor environment.
Generous openings on the second floor balcony allow air to flow in and out freely, creating the perfect chill-out zone with a view of the surrounding landscape.

From architectural viewpoints, Casa Borbon is unique in that the second floor can be accessed via stairs located both inside and outside of the house. Indoors, a spiral staircase built of steel connects downstairs to upstairs. Outdoors, another set of stairs leads to the second floor and continues to the rooftop deck hemmed in by planter boxes for gardening.

For privacy reasons, an outdoor set of stairs provides direct access to the second floor without passing through the interior of the first floor.
An indoor spiral staircase crafted of steel gives access to the second floor. Designed to safe floor space, it blends beautifully with warm minimalist interior design.
The rooftop deck is open to the sun, hemmed in by planter boxes for gardening.

In a few words, it’s well-thought-out home that conveys a great deal about brutalist architecture, one showcasing the rawness of materials fit to perform in the Tropical climate prevailing in Southeast Asia.

The lush appearance of plants growing vigorously makes the house entryway warm and welcoming in contrast to the rigidness of bare concrete walls.

Architects: Cali Architects

Principal Architect: Amon Cali

Contractor: EBK Builders OPC (

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