Architecture

Bahay Nakpil-Bautista is an architecturally significant historical Philippine site.

BAHAY NAKPIL-BAUTISTA, an architecturally significant historical Philippine site, stands at the heart of Quiapo, Manila on a colonial era street now named after its famous resident, Dr. Ariston Bautista, who built this house with his wife Petrona Nakpil in 1914 on the site of a previous Nakpil house. Petrona’s two brothers, Julio and Ramon, also lived here.

As in other Filipino urban houses since the 17th century, the roof and wooden upper story are supported by many posts. But it has features typical of Manila houses following the destructive earthquake of 1880: in the ground story, the brick walls are noticeably thin (21 cm.) while the wooden posts are connected with each other with several horizontal slats to carry the bricks. Instead of making the stone walls thick to resist earthquakes, the builders shifted their bet to multiple joints in the wooden framework that carried the bricks. Over the brickwork a protective lime mixture was plastered.

The architect was Arcadio Arellano, a major figure of that era.

STYLE

Art Nouveau’s influence upon turn-of-the century Filipino art is well-known, but not that of the Viennese Secession, because there are only a few examples in the islands. Most of the “Manila houses of this period were decorated with curvaceous flowers rendered either in tracery or in relief. In contrast, the Nakpil-Bautista house hints at the stylization of the Art Deco of the 1920s and the reductionism of the International style of the 1930s which eliminated surface decoration.”

A furniture set in the Viennese Secessionist style.

The inspiration for the motifs came from a Viennese furniture set that had been given to Doctor Ariston Bautista by the Prietos.

The inspiration for the motifs came from a Viennese furniture set that had been given to Doctor Ariston Bautista by the Prietos. It had a low sala table, sofas, high-backed chairs, a desk, vitrines and glass-walled cabinets to display porcelain and crystalware. The pieces have a pronounced verticality: long slender colonettes without capitals, rows of narrow vertical frames encasting beveled glass panes. These are balanced by subtly curving armrests and by the emphatic corners of a table. For accent, a few tiny pieces of mother-of-pearl, cut like flowers, punctuate the rich dark wood.

Highly stylized lyres of the ventanilla grilles.

Elongated curves echo in the highly stylized lyres of the ventanilla grilles

These motifs are repeated throughout the house. Thus flattened, elongated curves echo in the frames of the ceilings, in the abstract tulips of the tracery (callados) of the room dividers, and in the highly stylized lyres of the ventanilla grilles. Another motif, small squares on long vertical bars, appears in the simple row of recessed squares that decorate the wooden walls, in the wooden stair railings and in the window grilles. In the latter, the small squares are bunched in threes and thus suggest abstract flowers on equally abstract stems.

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