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Asis-Leif and Company, Inc. featured in
'Philippine Architect and Interiors' magazine
Victorian Houses In A Modern Filipino Setting
Aspen Series is the project name for the American-inspired residential
houses designed by Asis-Leif and Company, Inc., using the classic "Victorian"
exterior style combined with the elegance of a modern interior design. "This
concept is unique in Metro Manila," according to Cynthia
company's chief architect.
"When you drive through a residential development, you will notice that all
the houses look the same," she said.
"The houses don't have identity anymore," adds Paul Leif, Cynthia's
husband and business manager of the company.
Paul said they decided to make the houses unique to break the monotony
of design in these exclusive villages.
Paul is the engineering and science specialist of Asis-Leif and Company, Inc. which
specializes in stylized traditional American design.
The First Aspen Home
"It was a bold move," Cynthia said. "When we were in the United States, I
was really attracted to Victorian style houses and I wanted to bring the
style here in the Philippines. At first, Paul was skeptical, but he supported my
idea. Later, when we saw the positive response from the people who have
seen and like the house, we decided to pursue with the concept," Cynthia
explained. The first Aspen home is located in BF Homes in
"For this project, we used the conventional construction method, that is
using concrete hollow blocks," Paul said. In the future, he mentioned that he
would like to look into the use of other construction techniques, such as the
use of ICFs (insulated concrete forms) in order to save on energy and
"We also considered the climatic condition in our choice of building
materials, thus, we used fiberglass asphalt shingles for our roofing material.
This material, which is imported from the U.S., weathers well in our climate
and protects the house from leaks," Paul added. Cynthia described that
weatherproof wood sidings from Australia were used as wall cladding over
the exterior masonry walls for the total Victorian look. "For the front porch,
we used precast concrete balusters and decorative scrolls that look like
"The couple wanted to maintain the aesthetic quality of the Victorian style,
thus they had to use innovative materials to make the design consistent,
but practicality and environment were put into consideration.
The design of the interior is totally different from that of the exterior. "It
was a pleasure designing the interiors. We maximized lighting with the use
of skylights and glass blocks. The company also used modular cabinet
system for the kitchen and closets to add to its modern look. This also
eliminates the carpentry imperfections in the usual built-at-site approach.
Cynthia said, "The facade is warm, charming and quaint which is typical in a
Victorian house, but inside it is simple, elegant and modern, not typical of
the Victorian interior which is usually rich in wooden details and have lots of
Asis-Leif and Company, Inc. was able to produce American-style residential homes
utilizing modern materials while presenting the harmonious image of a
traditional American style architecture.
The Physics of a House
Paul said that when he arrived here in the Philippines, he took a look at
some of the building practices and realized that there are things that need
to be improved. Many builders were not looking at what I call the "physics
of a house," he explained.
"I saw that small diameter pipe was being used for water lines," he
continued. "Physics says that you cannot push a large volume of water
down a small diameter line except with a lot of pressure.
He went on, "We use oversize pipes so that low pressure can move a lot of
water. This also means that as chemical deposits decrease inside the
diameters, our clients won't see an effect for many years," he continued.
"We used the same kind of analysis for the heat flow in and out of a
structure. We also try to maximize heat absorption by choosing
high-infrared reflecting materials and then reflective and thermal barrier
insulation under the roof," he continued.
"The same concept works for bringing sunlight into the house, we want the
visible region of the electromagnetic spectrum, not the IR region," Paul said.
"The homes we build now must be ready for today's and tomorrow's
technology," Paul added. "That means separate conduits for several
telephone lines and for RF (radio frequency) cable lines," he interjected.
"The lines must be kept away from AC power lines to minimize
interference," Paul said.
"Of course my engineer friends will tell you that this is all engineering." He
further commented that engineering is just applied science, but I find things
easier to understand when I go back to the basics, and that's physics," he
Paul and Cynthia believe that because of their new mortgage rebate
program, they may have as many as one construction start each month.
With each project taking about six months, that means that they will have
six projects going simultaneously. "We are ready," said Cynthia.
"We've been planning this for a long time," she concluded.