Just one look and it appeals to your taste and captures the imagination. In fact, it’s been a hit in Philippine home design. A lot of Pinoys prefer their homes to look like it, a bit Japanese a bit contemporary a bit conservative and a bit extravagant. Here in my neighborhood, almost every newly constructed house has a Zen character.
What’s in Zen that makes it so appealing?
First word that comes to mind when you see a Zen house is “quiescence.” You feel at once the quiet ambiance of a sanctuary or temple even without having entered the premise. The psychology is all in it’s simple appearance—very much in consonance with the principles of minimalism. The simpler, the less work you need to get things done. The simpler, the less noise and confusion. That’s a peaceful and restful existence in this world of noise and chaos.
It’s strict symmetry (with emphasis on horizontal lines and cubism) suggest order and accuracy. I remember going inside a Zen bungalow we were to sell where I felt obliged to behave myself and make only calculated moves around the premise, even if no one told me to. Just my imagination? Exactly. Zen houses seem to elicit that kind of imagination from people. I also felt humbled seeing how simple yet noble the design was—and probably because the atmosphere the design created kind of prepared you for a Zen meditation.
Generally, Pinoys are simple folks. You get a glimpse of this from how the traditional bahay kubo looks like—so simple yet very orderly and respectable.
Well, we were influenced to adopt some sophistication in life as we were exposed to foreign cultures through the years, but there is still that inner yearning in most of us to prefer settling down somewhere peaceful and quiet. I often hear this from immigrants who desire to retire back to the Philippines in their quiet hometowns.
And since Zen houses are powerfully Asian and akin to the design principles of our very own bahay kubo, we easily find them to our liking. We want to live in a simple but elegantly presentable dwelling, down to earth homey yet modern. In a very true sense, most Pinoys are minimalists. I am. I love peace and quiet and keep things simple. To me that is “elegant.”
That’s why Zen houses have always appealed to me. Few other architectural designs achieve simplicity, elegance, modernity and orderliness all with a distinctly Asian character. Perhaps someday another design would come up, achieving better results, possibly originating from our country and termed, “Kubo” houses. Who knows?