Inside the Latest and Most Impressive Room of the Philippines’ “Most Sustainable and Eco-Friendly University Campus”

Over 100 bamboo posts, thousands of broken pieces of ‘crazy’ clay tile and exactly six recycled glass bottles are just some of the things that went into the construction of Foundation University, Dumaguete’s new cafeteria. Why? Because around 50% of the entire build has been made with recycled materials, and the rest locally sourced and sustainable.

The 5,042ft² room is environmentally conscious with the use of broken pieces of ‘crazy’ clay tiles to create a warm expanse of maroon mosaic on the floor. The material is sustainably sourced clay rejected from rice paddies, and by using even the broken parts nothing is wasted. As well as this, its uniquely designed grills that serve in place of windows and walls on two sides allow in plenty of ventilation and natural light, and cast shadows of intricate designs that creep up the walls with the rising sun.


In stark textural contrast but beautifully complemented in style is the installation of thousands of different sized bamboo pieces hanging from the ceiling. The effect is an immense and animated dangling landscape of earthy windchime waves spanning the entire room. The bamboo is all locally sourced and impressively showcases the fastest growing natural building material in the world; unmatched in its strength-to-weight ratio.


The bamboo used in the Foundation University ‘Kennel’ – aptly named due to the school’s ‘Greyhound’ mascot – is also naturally treated, with spices like garlic, native vinegar and salt, and then cooked; there is a joke among the workers that only the fish is lacking! By night the room transforms as spots of solar powered light emit from within selected bamboo pieces, dotting the ceiling landscape with bright but delicate fireflies.


The final touches to this design were two colorful floor-to-ceiling murals by Foundation University Artist-in-Residence Hersley Casero, which depict personifications of the calmness and chaos of the ‘Amihan’ and ‘Habagat’ storms experienced every year in the Philippines. The result of this combination of celebration of local culture, innovation in environmental consciousness and creative and colorful art is an ambiance unmatched. At any time of day, students can be seen recharging, socializing or studying in a cafeteria that is both animated with activity and comfortably tranquil.


Entheos is responsible for 100% of Foundation University’s architecture, and from 2015-2016 it won recognition from the Environmental Management Bureau of the Republic of the Philippines as the most sustainable and eco-friendly campus in the country. Located in one of the most unprivileged and unmaintained areas of Dumaguete City, Foundation University is a haven of gardens, sculptures, murals, design and young, forward-thinking minds. It was built to provide quality education for those locals who otherwise would not have been able to afford it, and in just a few generations it has grown to be able to offer a whole lot more. It is a pioneering University campus and a beautiful example of sustainable design for the whole country.