By Marcos de Guzman Jr.
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Alegria Hills' Chapel in the Grove
Alegria Hills' Chapel in the Grove


EVERY YEAR, our staff in Architecture Network spends a few days off away from the city touring the country. This summer, we chose Mindanao’s “City of Smiles,” Cagayan de Oro, and the alluring island of Camiguin as our destination. After a morning of white water rafting, we decided to mix business with pleasure and so stopped over at the Alegria Hills development, which is Ayala Land Premiere’s first residential venture in Cagayan de Oro City. As a team, we wanted to view our newest project completed within, which is the Alegria Hills chapel.

Nestled on rolling terrain, Alegria Hills boasts of beautiful weather, lush vegetation and a great view. Taking advantage of this, we designed an open-type garden chapel, where one can worship while immersed in a tranquil setting. The simplicity of the lines only adds to the aura of calm and reverence. Even the back drop of the altar is open, allowing the natural panorama to suffuse the senses.

The ground naturally slopes toward the altar like an amphitheater, a setup good for channeling sound upward and focusing attention centrally. The altar table, surrounded by low wood pews, is fashioned out of a huge rock welded to a concrete slab.

In good weather, the outdoor seating gives an awesome dimension to one’s prayer. The roof, supported only on two sides to minimize obstruction, looks like clasped hands praying to the heavens. Following Frank Lloyd Wright’s philosophy of organic architecture, the structure was constructed in such a way that no trees needed to be removed.

Although the roof is prominent, the building footprint is left to a minimum so as not to disturb too much of the natural ground formation or vegetation. The building follows the natural terrain to maintain ecological balance. The natural stone cladding used was harvested from the neighboring town of Bukidnon. SGS Landscape’s, Vic Duloong worked around the existing trees and designed the landscaping.

Even in difficult times, Ayala Land continues to build not only those amenities friendly to the physical habitat, but likewise espousing its buyers’ spiritual well-being. It is an approach that caters to both body and soul.

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