Italian furniture designer Carlo Cordaro remembers vividly what Cebu was like when he first arrived here in the ’90s.
“It was a sunny provincial city with coconuts and acacia trees, but in the 20-odd years that I have lived here, I have seen it transform into a modern city with tall buildings in glass and cement – which are suffocating the city center,” he observes.
Award for sustainable building
It is here, on a half-hectare property in Banilad, that Cordaro has built Asmara Urban Resort, which this month was shortlisted for the Bangkok-based 2020 PropertyGuru Tech Innovation Award for its “spirit of innovation”.
“We were nominated for Most Sustainable and Most Innovative Construction Methods. We did not win but just be included was amazing since we are a small company and there were huge conglomerate among those selected,” Cordaro says.
A lifestyle village concept
Asmara Urban Resort is the result of a lifestyle village concept.
A building with 15 guest rooms promises to be a showcase of material found in the Philippines, such as raffia, abaca, shells, bamboo and even banana skin.
The hotel will officially launch in 2021 but Cordaro is making some rooms available a few days before Christmas for its soft opening phase.
For now, however, the main hub is a two-story structure with an Italian restaurant built around a courtyard.
Called La Piccola Roma (The Little Rome), it serves handmade pasta and pizza baked in a copper-clad wooden oven.
It also hosts a lively aperitivo time (happy hour), featuring Cordaro’s own take on the negroni, margarita and piña colada.
Apart from creating a social hub, Cordaro aims to show property developers and resort owners how easy it is to incorporate sustainability into new projects.
Growing up in Asmara
Cordaro was born and raised in the African country of Eritrea, where his great-great maternal Italian grandmother was also born.
He remembers fondly Eritrea’s capital city of Asmara, which was declared a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2017 for being a well-preserved example of early modernist urbanism.