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Lexus Design Award 2019, Finalist - 'Baluto' by Jeffrey E. Dela Cruz

Baluto, a housing system that can withstand floods, designed by Jeffrey E. Dela Cruz, grabbed a place as a finalist at the Lexus Design Award 2019 during Milan Design Week.

by STIRworldPublished on : Jul 15, 2019

Among the six finalists at the Lexus Design Award 2019 during the Milan Design Week, the most impressive project with respect to its constructed prototype was Baluto – a full scale modular housing system designed and built by a recent architectural graduate, Jeffrey E. Dela Cruz, from Philippines.

Graduating from Saint Louis University, Baguio City, Philippines, Cruz’ interests lie in interpreting Filipino architectural designs and is often inspired by indigenous forms, materials and constructions. With hope in his heart that his work will eventually have an impact in the research field as well as on ground with the community for whom he designs, he sought a solution in low-lying areas where flood mitigation is a major concern. The proposed housing strategy provides a habitable space on land that can withstand a sudden rise in flood water level and provide a safe haven for its inhabitants.

Inspired by the fishing vessels used by people living in the north of Philippines, this design scheme combines the traditional bahay kubo design but also integrates elements of a boat in order for it to withstand the rising flood waters.

Jeffrey E. Dela Cruz, the designer of Baluto | Lexus Design Award| STIR
Jeffrey E. Dela Cruz, the designer of Baluto Image Credit:Courtesy of Lexus Design Award

Cruz, a victim of flooding himself on several occasions, took this project to address the problem head-on. He believes the project that he has conceived while pursuing his undergraduate degree will come across as a probable solution for a very serious problem that is faced by his entire country.

“Using bamboo as a fundamental raw material to design should be seen as a construction methodology for house building. The reason behind using bamboo as the primary material for building houses is two-fold: abundant availability of the material in the locality as well as the fact that its fast growth rate makes it a rather sustainable resource,” says Cruz.

The underlying design scheme revolves around the idea of lifting the house structure off the ground. Bamboo is used to form a stilt on which the structure sits. Raising it from the floor level not only prevents the interior spaces from flooding in case of rising water, but also combats earthquake tremors.

Separating internal spaces with moveable partitions, the proposed 5m x 5m single unit module can be converted into three layouts at once – the living space, the dining space, and the sleeping room. The windows are also constructed of bamboo slats, but fixed in a manner that prevents ingress of water, the flooring is made porous to allow for water to drain, and the lightweight structure itself can be assembled easily - the construction process is simple and can be carried out with minimal skilled labour, as was demonstrated by Cruz himself, when he constructed the house with the help of a few friends in a span of three weeks.

Components of the bamboo house | Jeffrey E. Dela Cruz| Baluto | Lexus Design Award| STIR
Components of the bamboo house Image Credit: Courtesy of Lexus Design Award

“Baluto has given people a construction layout that enables them to have a concrete foundation against floods and escape the obstacle of routine movements from their place of residence,” says Cruz.

Read more about the Lexus Design Award 2019 at the Milan Design Week and its other finalists:

  1. Algorithmic Lace by by Lisa Marks
  2. Green Blast Jet Energy by Dmitriy Balashov
  3. Solgami by Prevalent
  4. Hydrus by Shuzhan Yuan
  5. Arenophile by Rezzan Hasoglu

(Text by Palak Maheshwari, intern at

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