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Meet the Duo Behind Budji+Royal Architecture+Design

Architects Budji+Royal have beautifully balanced nature and luxury in their design concepts for the hotels in the Philippines. By ISOBEL DIAMOND.

Published on Dec 14, 2016


MAN IS NATURE, AND NATURE IS PEACE, according to philosophical architects Royal Pineda and Budji Layug. The creative duo behind Bedji+Royal Architecture+Design, one of Southeast Asia's leading firms, share the belief that constructed spaces should feel like natural landscapes, which results in stunning structures that may leave you wondering if you are inside or out.

The Reef
The Reef is inspired by the marine world. Courtesy of The Reef Hotel.

They founded the company in 2001, fusing their complementary disciplines to work across a range of leisure, residential and commercial projects. But the hotel world is where this pair is really making waves; their dedication to organic forms shines through in every element of the hotel environment, paying homage to the world’s ability to heal, nurture, renew and restore. They're putting their innovative stamp on some of the most exciting launches in the Philippines, from the expansion of the Amorita Resort (doubles from P8,348) in Bohol, with its natural limestone render and woven rattan furniture, to the Meranti (doubles from US$108), a nine-story boutique hotel in Manila's Quezon City, where expansive windows and organically finished furnishings are all part of their eco-friendly ethos. The Reef Hotel, is inspired by the coral reefs of Mactan, connecting guests with the marine world through color, texture and even visual space.

Meranti boutique hotel. Courtesy of Meranti Hotel.

While the creative vision behind Budji+Royal stems from a shared love for the natural bounty of the Philippines, the partners bring very different backgrounds to the drawing board. Layug studied at the New York School of Interior Design before setting out to travel the globe. He was inspired by his time in London and Paris, but once he'd honed his skills as a furniture designer, he returned to the Philippines to explore traditional techniques, such as handweaving wicker and intricate wood carving.

Pineda says he knew he wanted to be an architect since junior high and after university he joined Leandro V. Locsin & Partners, where he cut his teeth at the leading firm credited with shaping Manila's skyline with high-profile projects such as the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

When Layug and Pineda first met at a party back in 2001 there was an instant spark as they discussed their common goals of transforming the design world. "We want to shape the modern Filipino design sensibility," Pineda says. "Through creating luxurious spaces, which are defined by a sophisticated subtleness and sensitivity to the environment, we hope to amplify the beauty of nature and leave our mark on the landscape."

Royal Pineda and Budji Layug.
Royal Pineda (right) and Budji Layug. Courtesy of Philippine Tatler.

Over the last decade they've watched the country's cultural industries change and develop. Technology and social media have put the Philippines in touch with global trends, enabling designers to be more international. Yet rather than just mirroring western aesthetics, a distinctly Filipino style has surfaced in design, using indigenous materials like bamboo and rattan and design motifs taken from the patterns of indigenous tribal. "We represent a new, progressive energy that's emerging," Pineda says. "It's an exciting time to be working here."

Though the pair is expanding across the globe, with projects underway in the U.S., Europe and China, Budji+Royal is moving in a direction that is deeply local. Checking into one of their properties is like peering through a window to the future of Philippine design, and you're going to like the view.



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The Reef is inspired by the marine world. Courtesy of The Reef Hotel.
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