Fathers Day Demolition

Yesterday, as it was fathers day here in the Philippines, 16 volunteering Police Officers from the local village worked hard in the scorching sun. They used sledgehammers and ropes and by the end of the day an old building was demolished. Watching people working in this heat and giving so much to their local community, when they could have chosen to be home with their families in the shade, was a humbling experience.

The building, an old jail cell, will give way for the first prototype of a Children's Learning Center.  Hopefully this center will help provide enough opportunities for the children to develop into adults that will never again see another jail cell. 

This week we're starting excavation work while we simultaneously develop Native Narrative's Visualisation Projects. 

We are currently looking for architects, developers or designers who's in need of Architectural Visualisation. These commercial jobs are allowing us to work free of charge, and create the opportunities for the Charity projects we do here in the Phillippines. 

Please help us spread the word to architects & designers.

Next week........

Sonod Simana! Means “Next Week” in Visayas. We know this a little too well by now.

Initially, the Philippines and it's sunshine, nature & friendly locals seem like a rather perfect place to work. But charity architecture is in many ways frustrating, slow & difficult.

Despite receiving nothing but positive feedback from everyone we interact with, delay after delay is holding us back from construction. After months of being promised that progress will happen “Next week!” we cannot help but sometimes question ourselves: Why Charity Architecture? Why do we bother working here when it so much easier in Europe? 

Whenever this question comes up, the answer is often no further than the kids on our doorstep. They (or their hard working parents) cannot quit or hand in their notice and have no cosy first world country to move back to when things get hard.

Interacting with these kids every evening keep us in check and puts things back in perspective. We came to improve their reality. That was our goal when we started 6 month ago, it still is, despite delays and complications. It feels like progress is just around the corner: Sonod Simana!


Lake Danao Floating Sheds

Floating around in a shed is a seriously enjoyable way to spend a few hours.  A while ago now we had the pleasure of being invited for a BBQ on the lake by RDI & Friends. Rumours have it we might get to design the next shed. It better be true....

Demolition IS NEAR......

The excitement is increasing as we are getting closer not only to finally getting our demolition permit after weeks of negotiation but planning permission and start of construction is now also just around the corner! We are currently in detail design stage and will (if everything goes as planned) start demolition next week.

We are super happy to collaborate with an experienced local contractor, JV Enterprises, who will be helping us building the first center and hopefully more to come.

The existing building on site which will be dismantled to make room for the first learning center.

The existing building on site which will be dismantled to make room for the first learning center.

Source: demolition

Visualisation as a vehicle for Charity Architecture

Naturally we have talked a lot about charity work lately. It's very important for us but the other half of the story is equally important. The visuals we are creating remotely for our clients in Europe is basically becoming our bread and butter (rice and noodles to be completely honest) which allows us to invest time and expertise in these rural areas free of charge.

Here are some our recent renders produced for interior architect & furniture designer Alexander Purcell Rodrigues (http://www.alexanderpurcellrodrigues.com).

Native Narrative featured in National Danish Newspaper

Journalist Mette Wallach have been writing an article about why we left the London design industry, changed our carrier path and how we are funding charity work by doing commercial work. The article was published today, in the Danish national newspaper Jyllands-posten as a part of the Global Denmark article series. We feel happy and humbled as a result and pleased that humanitarian work in general gets a little well deserved focus.

Woven Samples & Interior test Renders

These great woven fabrics are not only super durable and recycled but also very cheap. After we visited our local market and got our hands on these fabric samples we did some test renders and decided to team up with local weavers who will help us with furniture for the children's learning centers. 

Source: woven


We had a really productive meeting at the City Hall last week!  We now have the Mayor backing the project financially and expression serious interest in building another three Centers for children. We will design these in the near future. The council's team of engineers and architects are assisting us with costing and planning approval. Now that is progress!

We couldn't resist giving the children in Cagbuhangin a sneak peak of the design during last weeks drawing session in the local school. Some of kids drawing ability was particularly good. We might have discovered the new Péter Márkli. 



Mudcrab Culture and Fattening (official project name)

While designing a place to grow crabs a nearly perfect silent retreat venue was designed unintentionally.

Here crabs are kept in small bamboo cages and fed scrap bits of fish which allows crabs to grow in size within a controlled environment. The fattening process takes 15-30 days.

However, there are other interesting aspects of this place; Its quite special to be standing on bamboo walkways surrounded by mangrove trees in almost complete silence.

Another Relocation project

Naungan community just outside of Ormoc City is threatened by Typhoons and Tsunamis and plant Mangrove sea forests as a protection strategy. The Government is planning on relocating the community but not to another area where the fishermen can continue with their usual livelihood, these people are being moved to the mountains.

We will interview the residents, find out what they need and attempt to collaborate with the local government in the relocation process. As this is a recurring issue perhaps a building typology could be defined. More on this soon!

Project Management lectures

Cecilie has now given 3 lectures to various groups of engineering students at Eastern Visaya State University. The aim was for students to gain a better understanding of what Project Management is, why it is important and to introduce some Project Management tools they can use once they are employed out in the real world. 

The Rainforest of the Sea

Today we visited Naungan community just outside of Ormoc City. People here plant Mangrove trees in the sea about 500m from the beach as a Typhoon / Tsunami protection strategy.  Unlike any other place we've seen, it has a surreal quality of a sunken park. 

How much for that building?

RDI is kindly helping out with cost calculations. We will soon get a ballpark figure on how much is needed to build the first community center.

Back to Uni - Love is in the air

We now collaborate with Vicente Duallo at the Engineering Department of Visaya State University. This is great news as he is helping us with structural advice and the students are breaking down the cost of the project.

We presented the children's community center to 4th and 5th year students and agreed to do some lectures in the future. Cecilie will speak of her experience in project management and Jakob will talk about architecture and possibly give an introduction to Rhino modelling. 

We felt extremely welcomed and not just because of those lovely floating hearts.....

Would you like a project with your coffee?

When we arrived there was a slight worry that we would not find enough opportunities to help out. Turns out there is very little need to worry. We live in a room adjacent to the RDI office and naturally meet the visitors RDI have over. This conversation took place one morning.


Visitor _ Hi Good mornign Im JL

Jakob_ hi Good morning nice to meet you (sipping coffee, trying to wake up)

Visitor_ We need a designer to help us with a dairy facility

Jakob_ do you have funding?

Visitor_ yes

Jakob_ do you have an engineer?

Visitor_ maybe

Jakob_is this for the government?

Visitor_ no

Jakob_ who is it for then?

Visitor_ its for the milk association

Jakob_ when do you need the design completed?

Visitor_ in 4 weeks

Jakob_ ok then lets do it , ill meet you on site tomorrow, please bring an engineer if you can find one!

Visitor_ thank you, See you tomorrow!

Concept render - Children's Community Center

We have been working on a concept and now getting the very helpful engineering students at Visaya State University to assist with the cost breakdown for this option. Much appreciated!

NOTE: the Bamboo screen is indicative and will be replaced by artwork made by a local weaving expert. More on this soon......

GK Santiago Relocation Area

We went for a little stroll and stumbled upon another relocation area.  This is of particular interest in relation to the UNDP Relocation Site we visited earlier. The stuff in-between the architecture makes all the difference. Some of the things we discussed would be suitable for Cagbuhangin are already in place. A huge roof, a basketball court, small gardens, a playground. These things are everywhere and everyone is using them. 

We will schedule a meeting with the inhabitants of the UNDP Site in Cagbuhangin and see what additions they would prefer. Our guess is it wont be much different from whats here, plus some sort of market facility.

Below description of this relocation area was found on GK's Website: http://www.gk1world.com Again, the resident story is very similar to Cagbuhangin's relocation area:

"GK Santiago is located at Sitio Canlalin, Poblacion, Albuera Leyte. Brgy. Canlalin is the center of the municipality where the seat of the local government is located. The site is about 500 meters from the national road and is easily accessible by land transportation. Potable water is readily available. All beneficiaries are residents of Brgy. Poblacion. They came from poor families who have no decent houses and lots of their own. Most of them are farmers, fishermen and tricycle drivers. Miss Anecita Zaidivar donated a portion of a sugarcane-planted lot with an area of approximately 1.3 hectares for a noble purpose, thus the GK site was unexpectedly offered as donation."

Meeting Pastor Joel

I just had the pleasure of meeting our neighbor Pastor Joel. We spoke about his charity projects, feeding children and his volunteering attempts at restoring Ormoc after Typhoon Yolanda. Initially after the typhoon he found it easier to get funding which mainly came from Tacloban based charities. Now as time has passed and Tacloban is somewhat restored, Ormoc is experiencing difficulties in achieving the same results.

Pastor Joel's work is also including a childrens community friendly center at a potential site nearby where we are building one. He does not yet have funding and although we cannot promise anything, we will visit the site and try to help him by redesigning the center we currently work to fit his site. Perhaps with a developed proposal in place fundraising might be easier. Perhaps something can be built. In the meantime Pastor Joel will pray and we will draw.

Pastor Joel

Passing on the Gift

We had the pleasure to return to Boroc Village for a gift ceremony. Basically this means that a charity project is set up where a female animal is given to someone in the village and after a number of years the offspring is passed on to somebody else. In this case a Hen and a Goat was passed on. We enjoy this beautiful simple logic of wealth redistribution. There was also a feeding ceremony in which kids receive local vegetarian food. We spent half a day observing this and speaking to the kids and just about managed to convince them that these two "canos" are actually Scandinavian. Boroc is quite reduced in terms of material welfare but regardless its undeniably pretty. If we do get the opportunity to work on a women's rescue center here (as discussed with RDI) we are ready without hesitation.