For close to four decades, the Light Rail Transit-1 (LRT) has been a part of the Filipino commuters’ life. But have you ever wondered who designed its stations and why, if you look closely, they might remind you of the Filipino “bahay na bato”?
It was National Artist for Architecture Francisco “Bobby” Mañosa who was commissioned to design the LRT stations back in 1980. According to a recent post on the Mañosa Company Facebook page, the vision of Archictect Mañosa, considered the Father of Philippine Neo-vernacular Architecture, “was to create a station that was tropical, climatically responsive, and truly spoke to our local culture, through an architecture that is uniquely Filipino.”
Mañosa was a famous proponent of the use of indigenous materials such as the bamboo and the rattan, and was known to incorporate considerations for the Philippines’ tropical climate in his designs.
The Light Rail Transit (LRT) was envisioned to be an elevated railway, operating on tracks above street level, so the space beneath it can still be utilized by vehicles and pedestrians. Bringing this idea to life was Mañosa’s “bahay na bato” design, which made use of terracotta tiled roof, long roof lines, wooden beams, and local clay tile floorings. His affinity for the aesthetics of the bahay kubo and the bahay na bato just had to be part of this medium of transport that he knew will be shared by millions of Filipinos for years to come.
Even in those years when escalators and elevators were limited to private developments, the forward-looking architect deemed to provide such conveniences to Filipino commuters. Preparation for solar panels, rain water collection, and the use of local indigenous materials were likewise considered as part of the overall design. There was also a proposal to make the spaces underneath the terminals a venue for art galleries, bookstores, cafés and the like—but this did not materialize.
The Mañosa firm said the late National Artist (he passed away in February of 2019) gave his full attention to the entire look of the project, even deciding on the colors of the trains themselves.
The LRT Line 1 system currently consists of the 15km elevated railway system servicing the Taft Avenue – Rizal Avenue route between Baclaran, Pasay City and the Bonifacio Monument in the City of Caloocan. The LRT Line 1 is considered to be the first LRT system in Southeast Asia.
According to Mañosa Company, its stations were envisioned by the old man to be pleasant places for passengers awaiting a comfortable, hassle-free journey. And what can be more pleasant than the idea of home?