Juan F. Nakpil, Artist and Filipino
A Modern Sensibility
Other innovations of Nakpil were successfully integrated – the magazine celebrating his silver jubilee as an architect in 1953 cited some projects:
“Uy Yet Building – one of the earlier works of Nakpil, was the first building to feature concrete media agua. Manila Jockey Club building –made use of exposed staircase as an architectural motif of the building, which as cantilevered stairs, concrete media aguas and balconies. Residence of General and Mrs. Vicente Lim – made us of wood in the wide eaves projecteing two meters from the face – that were adapted in the design of this modern house – climatic conditions in the country were taken into account.”
In the 1950’s Nakpil made striking use of the newly developed thin-shell concrete construction in works like the Rizal theatre and the Social Security System (SSS) Building. Aside from the folded plate facade and roofline, the SSS building remains a modern classic with the staircase fully visible through the glass windows.
Heralding Philippine Architecture
Juan Nakpil spoke of a Philippine architecture, that was attuned to the
climatic and seismological conditions, and the environment of the nation. Villalon notes:
“After World War II, Nakpil developed a structural system based on the Philippine”house on stilts” that he first used for proposed government center buildings at Diliman that unfortunately not constructed. However, the idea evolved into a design principle in the buildings he designed for the new University of the Philippines campus in Diliman, where the stilts were adapted into a structural component that allowed simple, open and effective floor planning leading to the easy partitioning of the interiors.”
Different versions of the Filipino nipa hut roofing were reflected in designs like the residence and headquarters of Felix Y. Manalo, founder of the Iglesia ni Kristo, in San Juan, and the Philippine Village Hotel, a project of the Juan F. Nakpil and Sons firm.
The use of indigenous Philippine material in housing was also explored by Nakpil, who as Chairman of the Rural Urban Planning Committee of his Rotary Club, supervised a contest with prizes for indigenous and environmental Filipino housing design and for technology that would retard fire and insect-infestation of native materials.
A more personal project that literally was an expansive nipa house, was the Nakpil family resthouse in San Jose del Monte Bulacan. The airy structure held six bedrooms and combined features of the bahay na bato with the nipa hut, with its concrete base decorated by flat river stones, wide bamboo floor verandas wrapping most of the house, capiz windows and sliding doors and spectacular nipa roofing. Here the Nakpils, including Juan F. Nakpil’ss grandchildren, spent happy weekends together for many years.
A Full LifeIn the midst of his stellar career, Juan F. Nakpil had raised a family with his wife Anita Agoncillo Noble of Batangas, who had been crowned the first Miss Philippines in 1926. Their three sons, Ariston, Francisco, and Eulogio excelled as architects and engineer, and joined him in the firm Juan F. Nakpil and Sons, which was established in 1953. Their daughters Annie (Mrs. Renato Tanada) and Edith (Mrs. Francisco Rabat) also thrived in their chosen vocations.
In 1973, the Nakpil family joyfully celebrated Juan F. Nakpil’s most significant award, as the first National Artist of the Philippines for Architecture. They were joined by the many friends of the very sociable and civic-minded gentleman.
Juan F. Nakpil passed away peacefully at the age of 86. His consummate artistry was rewarded in the many outstanding structures that survive him.
Gregoria de Jesus had written a kartilla of her own in 1928: ten guidelines especially for the youth. Number four was : “Pagsikapang magkaroon ng anumang karunungan na tumutugon sa kanyang hilig upang pakinabangan ng bayan.” (Strive to develop expertise whatever your vocation , to be of service to the country.)
Juan F. Nakpil had indeed taken to heart these and his mother’s other guidelines for a life of honor and heroism.Related topics: anniversary, architecture, art, Articles, katipunan, nostalgia, old manila, personal account, revolution