tagpuro, blog

The aim of this workshop was to get the fathers to start designing the windows, doors and walls of the lightweight volumes of the new Streetlight buildings (Study Center, Function hall, Dorms, Clinic and Office). We want the fathers to use their knowledge of traditional Filipino building methods to drive the design.

For those who have not read the previous blogs: these are the fathers of the children enrolled in the Study Center programme, eight of whom are employed by All Hands (the contractor) on the construction. They are a mix of farmers, carpenters, masons, tricycle drivers and shop owners. Attendance varies depending on their other commitments but typically we will have a good attendance of fathers during the workshops

For the first task we sent the fathers out into Tagpuro to sketch their favourite examples of a vernacular window, door and wall. The fathers split up into two groups and headed in opposite directions:

Focused work

Towards the harbour…
Zoe followed the fathers part of the way down the long concrete track / dirt path leading towards the harbour. Many of the families live on this path which forms the “main residential road” within Tagpuro. The houses are all self-built, with the majority made from local timber or hollow block, with plywood or bamboo-weave walls and corrugated tin roofs. Then she visited one of the father’s houses and sari sari – a small shop selling drinks, biscuits and other sweet things. This father – a carpenter – proudly showed me the entrance porch and modest shop front that he had made. Naturally, his favourite windows in the whole of Tagpuro were his windows. He drew a quick sketch of the window. However, the most interesting part was the entrance porch and store frontage area that he had made from local bamboo. In the porch he had created a little seating area and “transaction counter” which formed a nice shaded social space right at the front of the house.

Unfortunately, having spent so much time with the one father, Zoe managed to lose the other two fathers who had paced ahead to visit the houses down by the harbour.

Towards Babatnogn…
Meanwhile Alex followed the others down the main road and the fathers set about drawing their favourite windows, doors and walls in the neighbourhood. The fathers were really enthusiastic and even went as far as knocking on neighbours houses and asking them whether they could go inside to draw the windows. Some of the neighbours seemed intrigued by our activities and came up to ask the fathers what they were doing. It felt great to be out and about and actively involving the surrounding community in Tagpuro.

Drawing a window reference

The father weren’t afraid to exercise some artistic licence; one drew a great sketch showing a beautiful vernacular Filipino dwelling which, in reality, looked more like a concrete Barbie House painted fuscia pink.

After an hour of roaming around Tagpuro and sketching, the two groups of fathers then re-grouped back at site and the fathers presented their drawings and findings to each other. We asked the fathers to develop their drawings one step further and to design their own window, door and wall. We also asked them to refer back and reflect on the drawings they had produced during the workshop, as well as draw upon their existing knowledge of other vernacular architecture in the area. The fathers produced a great variety of window/door/window designs. Some added labels identifying the materials, dimensions and even mechanisms (e.g. sliding door).


It was interesting to see their different drawing techniques, which in general was a lot more practical than the freehand, artistic, sketching-style used by the mothers and children in other workshops. Some improvised rulers from spare pieces of card or even matchboxes to create a straight line. All fathers took the design process very seriously and spent a great deal of time and care over their individual drawings, which were all fantastic!

Finally the fathers presented their designs to each other and we rewarded ourselves by eating coconuts collected from the palm trees on site. Alex tried his hand at cutting up the coconuts with a machete, much to everyone’s amusement – Filipinos are much more adept at this than the average Joe (Filipino for ‘white guy’). To accompany the fresh coconut milk we also ate Alex’s Pasalubon (gifts from abroad): Norwegian milk chocolate cut up with a machete.