Architecture in the Philippines

General Information
ID No.: 


Subject Covered: 

Primitive Architecture, Bahay Kubo, Spanish Architecture, Muslim Architecture, American Architecture, Contemporary Architecture

Areas Covered: 


Period Covered: 

Pleistocene (22000 BC) to contemporary (1990s)

Bibliographic Details

Klassen, Winand

Year Published: 
Book Title: 

Architecture in the Philippines


Cebu City/ University of San Carlos

Page Total: 
Illustration Total: 

232 Illustrations 104 Photos



Library Reference: 

The book gives an in-depth (and often philosophical) analysis of the architectural styles of certain groups in the Philippines. It also has many vivid pictures of houses and buildings from different periods.


Introduction The book discusses architecture using the Principle of Polarity and uses semiotics as its approach. Primitive Architecture in the Philippines This section discusses the lean-tos and the rice terraces – their structure, construction, and meaning to the people who made them. It points out that the basic elements of primitive architecture are still used in buildings today. The Bahay Kubo The section discusses the bahay-kubo as vernacular architecture. It describes and compares houses in Cordillera, Visayas and Sulu islands. Spanish Architecture in the Philippines The section discusses the city plan of Manila and Cebu, and describes buildings such as churches, conventos and schools, among others. By giving their historical background, it locates these structures within the wider context of social developments. Muslim Architecture in the Philippines The section explains Muslim architecture by discussing Islam as a religion and the history and culture of Muslims in the Philippines. It features the different mosques all over the Philippines, and the houses of Maranao rulers. The American Period The section explains Philippine architecture during the American period by discussing prominent architects and their influence and works. The first two were Americans, the rest were Filipinos who were able to study abroad. Contemporary Architecture in the Philippines “Contemporary” is relative, however, the section begins at the end of the end of WWII. It discusses prominent architects, their works, their influence and the factors (e.g., music) that might have influenced them. Conclusion The conclusion goes back to the principle of polarity. It discusses the beauty of regional architecture, yet the need for a national architecture. While the mixing of opposites is the principal quality of Filipino architecture, it is not unique to the Philippines. Moreover, neither does it guarantee high quality. A good work of architecture is one that is able to communicate well to its spectators.

Summary Methodology: 

Review of published works on Philippine architecture