Despite all the challenges throughout history, including the unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic, two pre-war buildings remain intact. These are Daku Balay and its neighbor along Burgos Street, Bacolod City. With the completion of Belle Arte Residential Condominiums nearby, the owners are gearing up for the establishment of the Art Deco District of Bacolod. It is poised to top-bill heritage tourism in Bacolod City when travel restrictions are lifted.
What is Art Deco?
Art Deco is an architectural and design movement that originated in Paris in 1925. Despite its rather upscale approach to buildings, it was the first to gain worldwide popularity.
Throughout history, there had been many buildings that feature art deco design. Many of the world’s most iconic Art Deco buildings are in the USA. The most notable and historical buildings would the Empire State and Chrysler Buildings in Manhattan, New York.
Meanwhile, cities like Miami, Chicago, Los Angeles, Paris, and London also boast of some of the most iconic Art Deco buildings in the world.
Soon after, art Deco flourished in Asia, especially in metropolitan cities like Hanoi, Shanghai, and Hong Kong.
Art Deco also made its way to the Philippines and many buildings in Manila in the 1930s and 40s were built with this design. There were personal estates, theaters, museums, and apartment buildings that were inspired by this style. The streets of Malate and Escolta used to be a prominent parade of extravagant Art Deco structures.
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Unfortunately, many of the Art Deco masterpieces in Manila were destroyed during World War II. The rest have also been neglected, sold, repurposed, or demolished throughout the years.
The Art Deco District of Bacolod
In Bacolod City, a man had a vision and was way ahead of his time. In the 1930s, Don Generoso Villanueva built the lavish Daku Balay for his family. Literally translating to Big House, Daku Balay is located along Burgos Street, which is the big white house with a sprawling lawn.
Complete with an elevator that goes up to the third floor, this building screams of Art Deco. Up to 1959, it was the tallest building in Bacolod City.
Outside, it is painted a simple white matte with emerald green trimmings. But everything that you see inside–including the toilets and baths, all have intricate, thematic designs.
Don Generoso also built a smaller home in the same style across the street for his sister. These two buildings have been well-preserved throughout the decades — even during the war. That was because a high-ranking Japanese military official respected the grand design of this house.
The descendants of Don Generoso, who now run the MarosVill Development Corporation, have become known as the premier Art Deco developers of the country. They have successfully completed the Belle Arte Residential Condominiums, which is strategically located behind Daku Balay.
Moreover, they are gearing up for phase 2 of the development, despite being slowed down by the pandemic.
Nevertheless, the public health threat didn’t thwart their creative direction. Instead, recent developments have inspired them to pursue the Art Deco District of Bacolod City.
Belle Arte Residential Condominiums
The Belle Arte Residential Condominiums is a development by MarosVill Development Corporation. Located just a few meters away from Daku Balay, the building was inspired by the grand design of the Villanueva Ancestral House.
“Belle Arte is a continuation of Don Generoso Villanueva’s vision 80 years ago to create a modern and sophisticated district for the city of Bacolod.” This was stated by Lilia Villanueva, President, MarosVill Development Corporation.
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Defining the neighborhood as the Art Deco District of Bacolod, the family hopes for the protection of the heritage houses in the area. They are also looking at developing more Art Deco-inspired buildings that we can be proud of. These will greatly benefit the city in several ways.
Eventually, this area will up the ante in heritage tourism for Bacolod City.