One-on-one with KDAS architect | The Pavilions El Nido Palawan Island

Author : Thai Property group Published on 9 February 2022
The Pavilions El Nido Palawan Island, the project of El Nido Beach Resort and SPA, has carefully selected the best players to work with in the construction of this luxurious 5-star resort on the island of Palawan, a world-class real estate destination in the Philippines. The project is currently in the construction phase.

Here is an interview with the chief architect, Arch. David de Jesus Cabigao of KDAS Architectural-Interior Design Services, the resort’s architectural firm.

Translation and adaptation of the original article on the hotel manager’s website.

The KDAS Architectural-Interior Design Services team
The KDAS team offers a wide range of architectural design and planning services, design, innovations and construction solutions. In response to the latest trends in construction design and innovation, KDAS provides Building Information Modeling (BIM)-ready architectural drawings that provide a standard platform for well-coordinated and intelligent information sharing to minimize eminent changes during the construction phase. KDAS has experience in the Philippines and Singapore on multiple building typologies, from residential buildings, mixed-use residential complexes, master plans, hotel design (from boutique to luxury), mid to high-rise programs, and institutional and commercial programs.

Chief Architect Profile
Arch. David is a graduate of Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila University, Intramuros, Manila, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Architecture S.Y.2001-2006. He received the university’s Most Outstanding Student Award in 2006, and a Certificate of Achievement – Management for Competitive Edge 2015 at the International College of Management, Sydney, Australia. He has also worked with his team on several high-end projects globally.

Quality first
Q: How difficult is it to work on a 5-star project that is a franchise of a well-established and world-renowned global brand in the luxury hotel industry?

Arch. Dave: “We follow the guidelines of five-star hospitality with The Pavilions brand, so QUALITY is never compromised. A team of experienced professionals was assembled to redefine standard architectural, interior design and engineering solutions through the latest technological advances, careful selection of environmentally friendly and sustainable materials and equipment, and careful planning and execution on the project site.

The term “quality” is expressed with substantial factors conglomerated to determine what this entire program is composed of.

Construction Challenges
Q: What is it like to work on an island with structures exposed to high temperatures and salt water? Tell us more.

Arch. Dave: Given the extremely challenging geography of the site (both hilly terrain and construction over water), our structural supports are very unusual, starting with the footing interconnected with additional soil beams to mitigate anticipated lateral and vertical earth movements to ensure the villas are well intact.

The roof frame was designed based on a wind load capacity of 244 km/h, in accordance with the latest local code of preventive measures in the country, and in such a way that it can nominally deflect in case of strong wind from all possible directions, even though the region is rarely visited by devastating typhoons. These frames were strategically prefabricated off-site and brought in only for installation to gain quality labor utilization and efficiency.

A unique project on an island paradise
Q: What unique materials or designs did you choose for this particular project?

The roofing material chosen – stone coated metal shingles – was selected to provide a high quality and much more durable alternative to traditional asphalt shingles, while eliminating some of the other preparation materials from the traditional installation method. This actually reduces the amount of underlayment to maintain which is susceptible to deterioration near salt water or other harsh environments.

In terms of manufacturing precast concrete piles and other structural elements, this is one of the most cost-effective and time-saving strategies we have developed to not only build the piles for our boardwalk, but also to modularize the construction system for our overwater villas to avoid damaging our existing seabed and natural organisms, while still meeting government guidelines.

Q: What is Green Sukabumi stone and these natural gray slate blocks?
Arch. Dave: Using Sukabumi Green Stone to finish the walls and floors of our main pool evokes a sense of luxury. It’s a great option for outdoor use because of its durability, thermal stability and non-slip properties. One of the benefits of using green Sukabumi stone is its distinctive mineral component, zeolite, which does an incredible job of removing ammonia from the water which, in excessive amounts, is harmful to our bodies. In addition, its high quality also comes from a careful extraction process in Indonesia, and the distribution of the product is done with care to ensure the preservation of some of its most prominent characteristics mentioned earlier.

The site also has its hidden gem! These natural gray slate blocks from the site’s excavation debris are not just huge chunks of dark rock, but an utterly elegant natural recipe that wraps our mountain villas, other facilities, and some downhill walkways. Instead of quarrying these stones, builders will simply reuse this fallen rock debris from the site and represent its beauty in our structures.

Sustainable and conscientious development
Q: What steps have you taken to balance progress with respect for the environment?

Arch. Dave: Reducing the operational carbon footprint. Smart tools and equipment are readily available on the market and are constantly improving to quickly eliminate the carbon footprint. As part of our development, we will use all LED lights and inverter equipment such as ceiling fans and air conditioning. In addition, to save energy, we have placed “automatic air conditioning shut-off sensors” that will be integrated into all the pool access doors and linked to our electrical control system by RFID key card. This way, we can save on energy consumption and, at the same time, minimize the carbon footprint of our project.

Technology in the luxury hotel business
Q: What new technology are you introducing in this project?

Arch. Dave: This is one of our latest favorites…how about calling a butler with your fingertips? Many of us (of all ages) are no strangers to using mobile devices to find/search for anything we need on a daily basis. Simple, quick response, immediate action. Who doesn’t want that? In collaboration with an auxiliary and ICT specialist, we are exploring all these possibilities and making them available to our clients. A simple mobile device available in each accommodation unit can bridge the communication gap by providing the latest “F&B offers”, “outdoor activities”, “daily special events”, or simply “call a butler for assistance”. This feature can be integrated with your in-room media devices and monitored/updated from the resort’s main office communication system, which is distributed to all other relevant resort facilities.

Purchasing Management
Q: What type of policy do you use in your procurement process?

Arch Dave: Setting up the procurement process is an exquisite task. “Efficiency and quality before cost” is the standard rule. But that rule doesn’t stop with the allocation of each lot; it’s about continuous quality assurance and quality control (QA-QC), from shop drawing approval to actual production, to pre-delivery quality control and even after the official opening. The after-sales services of our industrial partners and subcontractors play an important role in ensuring their place in this luxurious development. Local talents and players are welcome to express their international and export quality products and services, as we can also showcase their ingenuity in our homeland.


Much has been achieved on the development and construction of The Pavilions El Nido, Palawan Island in 2021, including assisting in the relief operations and efforts for the typhoon victims, obtaining quality assurance through the environmental clearance, the successful installation of Geocell along the access road, the permaculture plan for synergistic agriculture, the gradual completion of the villa mock-ups, the sale of Phase 1 of the project including all the water villas, and the award of the project management to the world’s largest real estate company, CBRE Philippines.

In 2022, and with a view to opening in 2023, we look forward to the completion of the farm and nursery, the continued installation of the Geocell retaining walls, the inauguration of the resort facilities, and the construction of the ocean-view villas.

Paradise is in the making and we look forward to welcoming you.

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