Estudio Damgo II: A Filipino Design-Build Studio

$6,219 $3,781
Raised Remaining

As part of Estudio Damgo's (Dream Studio) mission to teach Filipino college students sustainable design to benefit a chosen community, Foundation University's Agriculture extension program, lead by Mark Espedilla, continues to work with the residents of Core Shelter community since the relationships were formed through the Multipurpose Hall project in 2013.  During the second semester this past February (and marking nearly one year after the ribbon cutting), Espedilla's extension program took their fieldwork on solid waste management to Core Shelter.  Espedilla says the residents are proud of the Multipurpse Hall and they keep it clean. The students used the Multipurpose Hall to instruct residents on urban composting and gardening.  The community is now supplied with a rotary composting unit and the knowledge to reduce and use their waste for gardening.  Espedilla's extension program demonstrates Estudio Damgo's mission through and exchange of ongoing relationships, which benefit both Foundation University's students and the local community.  Foundation University’s College of Business Administration has also conducted fieldwork with Core Shelter using the Multipurpose Hall.

Multipurpose Hall Exterior
Multipurpose Hall Exterior

Pleased to share Arch't Ann Panopio's perspective on the Multipurpose Hall and humbled to know she took time out from a family holiday to travel during inclement weather. Thank you for visiting and sharing Ann!

The following is what she shared to facebook:


How's this for irony? While visiting a disaster recovery related project in Dumagete City, Negros, Philippines, my cousins and i were stranded on that island for 30 hours because of Tropical Storm Queenie. Thanks to Anna L Koosmann, who told me about Estudio Damgo, allow me to recount the lemonade glasses from this lemon of a situation.

Estudio Damgo is a design-build studio at Foundation University in Negros. From what I understand, this is the first design build, community based studio in the country. Victor Sinco and Zorich Guia were generous enough to spend sometime discussing how the studio is a break from the traditional pedagogy, which tends to be more technical. I also found it interesting the Victor mentioned that a few people with whom he has discussed this program seem bemused by why resources and intellectual capital is being spent on "the poor". This doesn't surprise me, Philippines' sociopolitical structure isn't unique but the systematic inequality is certainly more pronounced than in the US.

The most recently completed project is the Panaghuisa project, which is a multipurpose building in a settlement for Typhoon Sendong survivors. The students chose to work with this community after learning about the need for a shared common space to house meetings, classes and medical services. The structure and landscaping also will allow for an aquaponic system to help manage rainwater runoff and to grow fish and vegetables. Visiting was a great opportunity for me to see what community engagement in a disaster recovery situation can look like within a context that is both familiar and completely foreign to me.

For more information, check out


*Ann Panopio lives and works in Houston, Texas US at bcWorkshop.  She was traveling through Dumaguete during an overseas family holiday visit in the Philippines, November 2014, and 7 months Multipurpose Hall post occupancy.

Multipurpose Hall Interior
Multipurpose Hall Interior
Tropical Depression Queenie
Tropical Depression Queenie

Estudio Damgo 2 being put to good use

The pomp and excitement of the March 25, 2014 inauguration may still be remembered by the residents of Habitat 4 and the Core Shelter Housing Project in barangay Bajumpandan in Dumaguete City whenever they see the multipurpose building that was built over a span of over six months through the Estudio Damgo II project of Foundation University.
"It was a special moment," Juancho Gallarde, a village councilman, said. "Not everyday do we have a marching band parade through our roads with no less than the City Mayor in attendance," he added. 
The multi-purpose building, designed by the community in a series of consultations and built by community volunteers spearheaded by the graduating architecture students of Foundation University, is living up to its intention of being a place where the villagers could gather for any occasion.
"We are happy that finally, we have a beautiful place to gather for the purpose of socializing, holding community meetings, and seminars and celebrate important community milestones," Gallarde said.
Before Estudio Damgo II, community residents would gather in an open space, exposed to the heat of the sun or the cold drops of rain.
The multi-purpose building sits on government land, owned by the City of Dumaguete, which it gave permission for Foundation University to build on it. 
Built at a cost of Php 530,000 (roughly USD 11,000) through fund raising activities and donations from the Global Giving community, the building is being put to good use. 
"We hold village meetings and seminars in this building each week. We held an anti-drug abuse seminar just a few days ago," Gallarde said.
The project, though, is still incomplete, as a livelihood component for the villagers remains uninstalled.
The livelihood component was an aquaponics system, whereby residents could raise fish and grow vegetables, which would cost an additional P200,000.  
With the introduction of Estudio Damgo III, funds for the livelihood component for Estudio Damgo II may take much longer to raise.
But Gallarde said even the building alone is already a great help for their community. "Having a livelihood project would be a wonderful bonus!" he said.  (Alex Pal)

Life in Dumaguete will always be associated with the sea. Rizal Boulevard, a pedestrian scaped promenade is one of its landmarks located near the water. The city has seven (7) coastal barangays plus inland fish ponds; no one would imagine that the region is not producing enough fish to support its growing population.

The shortage of the fish supply has forced the inhabitants to choose meat and poultry over fish. For several years now, the city has been importing to meet the demand and dependent on the fisheries from its neighboring cities, municipalities and islands. Due to this shortage, the City Government of Dumaguete established marine sanctuaries in its territorial seas as part of the city’s food security program and environmental preservation campaign.

The government working with the Coastal Resource Management reorganized the Deputized Fish Wardens to now function as protectors of the marine santuary. Prior to this addition the wardens’ was to safeguard the sea from fishermen doing illegal fishing like dynamite fishing and putting obnoxious chemicals into the sea, making sure that all coastal and marine laws are implemented and capturing violators. But by the time of the adaptation of the resolution about the protected areas, with that they now function as protectors of the sanctuary along with the functions they have previously. These fish wardens were doing this critical and vital work as volunteers; without a salary. However in 2002, the City Government gave them a monthly honorarium of 1000 php. provided that they submit monthly reports and updates. Considering the amount of money they are receiving, their job can still be considered voluntary.

 In an interview, one of the fish wardens said that currently they are staying in the house of one of the members during their shifts of the marine sanctuary. Since they don’t another choice currently, sometimes they’d rather stay on the shorelines rather than disturb the member’s family.

In our effort to support the food security program, preserve the marine environment and help the fish wardens to be more efficient and effective during their shifts, Estudio Damgo III team has chosen to design and build a Marine Sanctuary Center. It may sound simple, but to the group, it’s extremely meaningful. To us, the project will serve as a representation of our commitment to protecting the sanctuary in order to increase the fish population in the area but also to help feed the future generations of Dumaguete.

Building turnover
Building turnover
A tale of 2 buildings

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON -- It was the best of times. It was the worst of times…

I recently had the great fortune of getting to revisit Dumaguete with my husband. The occasion of our return was to celebrate the inauguration of Estudio Damgo’s second community building: A Multi-purpose building for the resettled community in Bajumpandan.

Estudio Damgo is a design-build studio for senior architect students at Foundation University. As one of the original founders of Estudio Damgo, my husband Ray Villanueva was eager to greet his former students and evaluate their work as seniors under the excellent tutelage of Anna Koosmann.

We were not disappointed. The building soared above its neighbors, providing a picturesque landmark for the humble settlement. The students had chosen to work with local materials (largely donated) – bamboo, brick and tile – beautifully finished. We arrived just as the sun was bearing down, but the interior was cool and well-lit with diffuse, natural light.

It was the best of times.

And then I learned that this, in fact, was not the original site that was planned for the building. As it turns out, the students had initiated their work with the neighboring settlement. Student architects were required to make decisions based on a series of meetings with community leaders and designated representatives.

The final design was not only an elegant solution that carefully balanced all the variables; it was the result of a collaborative process in which the entire community had a voice and could take ownership in.

Unfortunately, just as they were ready to begin construction, there was a change of heart. The landowner did not offer support for the student’s design. They had decided what the building should look like, and would not entertain any new ideas.

And as it turns out – they had funding – so they went ahead and built their predetermined design.

It could have been the worst of times.

Thank goodness, the project was saved by the quick action of Dumaguete city leaders who supported Estudio Damgo and the student’s original design. These leaders made it possible for the project to move to the neighboring settlement (so that residents will still get access to the building they had helped design) without too much delay, so that the students could still meet their construction deadline (graduation!).
Of course, our friends and supporters at Global Giving have also been faithful with their love gifts, enabling the project to move at a faster pace, before the onset of the rainy season.

And now there stand TWO multi-purpose buildings in Bajumpandan.

And if you’ve ever wondered about the true value of architecture – these two buildings built nearly side-by-side for the same purpose – are a radical example of what happens when you chose to build by design, rather than by carbon copy.

I invite you to make a visit for yourself! We came all the way from Seattle, and it was worth every penny.

Hats off to the graduating students of Estudio Damgo II and their instructors – you are already making a positive difference in your community – and I am confident that it is only the beginning.

P.S. Keep an eye out for Estudio Damgo III next school year. Community discussions underway.

Amy Villanueva
children at play
children at play

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Foundation University

Dumaguete, Negros Oriental, Philippines

Project Leader

Anna Koosmann

Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental Philippines

Where is this project located?