Disaster-adaptive homes: Incorporating DRR in interior design

I visited the UPIDAA‘s IDisenyo exhibit at SM City Marikina yesterday. It was a showcase of interior design entries under the theme KalamIDad: Interior Design in Times of Calamity. I was curious to see how disaster risk reduction could be incorporated into the practice of interior design, and the exhibit was a very good learning experience.

Perspectives and material samples from the entry TAHAN-NAn.


The competition asked interior designers to work on homes in Provident Village, Marikina City. This village was one of the worst affected areas in the city when Typhoon Ondoy heavily flooded Metro Manila.

Several points stood out for me in the exhibit:

It's not just an item on a wishlist, it's based on reality of disaster

The entries try to come to the closest they can to actual flooding. Simulations and warning levels help viewers appreciate the contest theme and the reality of a flood inside a house.

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A simulated flooding event shows how the interior components are adaptive.
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Design components per floor have DRR roles and contribute to lowering flood impacts.


It incorporates social responsibility

Designs included a family disaster action plan that designated tasks per family member. This is crucial to disaster planning. I loved how the layout, type of furniture used, and the tasks of the family are all coherent and easy to follow, even for the youngest child.

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A family disaster action plan

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It showcases the use of innovative design solutions

The concept of this submarine house is very unique. It includes home features that are easily collapsible and stackable, when these are usually fixtures in many other houses. I think the entire concept is brilliant and entertaining at the same time.

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Sisid: A Submarine House
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The Evolution of Forms ensures the security of furniture inside the house
It highlights sustainability

From the overall concepts to the design specifications, sustainability is highlighted. This is reflected in the double uses of design features or in the naturalness and recyclability of it. For example, LED door handles become a guide in blackouts, solar panels may function as battery chargers, floor-embedded and waterproof LED materials are energy efficient, while air-filled throw pillows double as flotation devices.

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From the entry Makabagong Industriyal

Mobility, space, and post-disaster considerations such as durability and clean-ups are also taken into account in the designs. These concepts are very reflective of urban planning. The entry Urban Paradox shows similarity to how city planning works.

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From the entry Urban Paradox

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It gives tribute to Filipino architecture and artistry

This goes beyond patriotism. The rationale for this design is that Philippine suits the Filipino; what really works is that which suits our archipelagic and tropical setting. This gives an impact to viewers and values identity.

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TAHAN-NAn gives tribute to the Bahay Kubo and Bahay na Bato.

Philippine-designed furniture, accents, and decor are also highlighted in the TAHAN-NAn entry. Cobonpue‘s and other top Philippine designers’ works are pegged for inspiration.

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Philippine textures, patterns, and locally made products are in used.


Most entries are applicable to the mid- to high- level working classes. This is because the contest rules specified Provident Village, which is one of the higher-class residential areas in Marikina City. It will be interesting to see DRR-flavored interior designs that can cater to resettlement areas and the lower-income class range, which comprises more parts of the hazard-prone Philippines than the upper tiers of the triangle. I’d also love to see something that can bridge this wonderful exhibit to urban planning, which I think can be in the form of capacitating people on how to maximise their home space and make it disaster-adaptive at the same time. This is addressed in the exhibit’s talks, but is yet to be dispersed in a wider setting.


IDisenyo shows until tomorrow, January 16 at the Atrium of SM City Marikina. If you’re in the vicinity or if it’s your shopping / grocery day, drop by and learn about DRR and interior design.

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