Black House: Modern living for millennials by millennials

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Black House —A modern duplex in suburban Parañaque

OUR decision to purchase a home for the very first time serves as an important milestone to adulting. Nevertheless, it’s a very daunting task for us given that this will define how and where we spend the better part of our lives.

Recently, the ULI Young Leaders Group (YLG) Philippines culminated a property tour event in suburban Parañaque last July 23, which featured a unique concept of housing that greatly appeals to the biggest demographic of the Philippine population—millennials. And who better suited to envision this one of a kind modern home than a team of millennials, as well.

“The problem is, townhouses and duplexes in the Philippines are still being done the traditional way with a look that hasn’t been updated in years,” shared Toby Catral, CEO of JARC Group who developed the unique house. “I believe houses that utilize a smaller land area and vertical concepts are the future. We have to be more creative with the way we design these spaces similar to places like Bali and Japan.”

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Attendees of the Black House Property Tour

Toby Catral, CEO of JARC Group, talks about how living spaces in CBDs are exponentially becoming unaffordable

“Housing prices have been going up at an exponential rate for the past Five to 10 years but salaries have remained the same. The only way the young generation can afford property is if they settle for a small condo or get a smaller lot sized property like a duplex or a townhouse.” Catral added.

The duplex features minimalism coupled with amazing symmetry in its interior design and lighting. The house aggressively harnesses natural light through its high ceiling glass wall. The architecture and interior design was jointly done by Mary Bocalid, managing partner of Vbo Architects + Engineers and Crystal Ventura, principal  architect of Design Space Eleven.

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The top floor of Black House featuring the master’s bedroom and a spacious roof deck, The living area of Black House and High ceiling coupled with a full glass wall to harness natural light.

The living area of Black House featuring a high ceiling coupled with a full glass wall to harness natural light

Despite utilizing only 160 square meters of land, Black House was able to maximize space and offer a spacious feel inside through excellent interior design and lighting. Ventura opined, “Lighting design is not about using the latest models in illumination technology. Rather, it’s meant to target the subconscious desires of the end user. For Black House, we wanted to make the homeowner feel comfortable and relaxed once they arrive from a long day’s work. This usually happens at dusk or at night, therefore lighting plays an integral role in making someone ‘feel at home.’”

Crystal Ventura talks about lighting design

“We also chose warm lights over cool ones because this visually transitions better from yellowish lamps along the street. Furthermore, the homeowner might already have been exposed to cooler light temperatures in his/her office. It also helps that the ceiling height in the living area is high, which minimizes unecessary glare, and lets the eyes easily take in the generous space facing the beautiful tree” she added.

Even the marketing strategy of the developer of Black House suits today’s tech-savvy millennials. It has an online website that boasts of an immersive 3D presentation of the duplex’s perspectives (

Mikko Baranda, cochairman of the ULI YLG and associate director of Leechiu Property Consultants,  shared, “We believe that millennials will lead the charge into the housing market in the coming years as the older millennials had some time to grow in their careers, save and are looking for investment opportunities in real estate. Also, this group looks at the housing market very differently from their parents, where they give importance to design, technology and minimalism. We believe that Black House has been able to create a unique product that’s both modern but yet affordable.”

The ULI YLG with the Developers of Black House

As a background, the ULI YLG is a group of emerging leaders in real estate committed to the responsible use of land, building thriving communities and enhancing the future of the industry. The organization provides a setting for the leaders of tomorrow to learn and collaborate with their peers and senior leaders of the organization. One of our core activities in YLG, apart from The Mentorship Program, Industry Mixers, Lunch and Learns, is organizing property tours. This allows our members to stay on top of the latest trends in real estate and to learn from the visionaries themselves explaining their developments firsthand.

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