• Nataly Velásquez Rodríguez

Dada Design: Small Steps Towards the Best Impact for Most.

Updated: Jul 28

Integrating community lifestyle and technology that improves it, while preserving cultural treasures.

Author: Nataly Velásquez-Rodríguez.

Editor: Nathalie Mezza-Garcia.


Let’s start this time in the end: before closing the heartfelt interview, and full disclosure, the very first one recorded as part of the Floating Cities Show, Nathalie asked Deo: where is Dada going in the future? “Inevitable” was the term he used to describe the relationship between Deo Alrashid Alam Design Architecture, the firm born in The Philippines under his direction, and Floating.

His tone evidenced the strong connection and commitment he has for changing the harsh situations that island nations’ people around the world experience. He thinks that with rising sea levels, “we must prepare better than adapt… for me the most important part is to help preserve history and tradition through the work I do”.


This drive to plan better futures for island nations took Deo to participate in the Jacques Rougerie Foundation Competition for Architects and Designers back in 2017. In his words, this was a rather daring move to test the impact that professionals from Southeast Asia could have on international waters. However, he confesses not being completely aware of the prestige and magnitude of the contest at the time.

Imagine the feeling when his proposal Currents for Currents was awarded Grand Prize in the category “Innovation and Architecture for the Sea”, which we proudly name Aquatecture! Listen to the anecdote that occurred at the ceremony and how he found out Dada Design was among the highly selected talents that are invited to race by the arts and science non-profit twice every year.


We admire, and in Seaphia's Dada Design Floating Cities Show episode, have plenty of details you probably have not heard about Currents for Currents and In Absentia, two of the most iconic and recognized works of Dada. We also want to introduce you to their most recent plan for the extension of the Bihing Tahik resort in the Philippines: A sweeping clam-like structure that decorates beautifully the top of the new villas that will face the ocean next to the current hotel facilities.

The roofs are seamlessly coherent with the natural landscape, the waves at sea and the local materials evoke the rich heritage of the people in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi (which means “by the sea” in the native language). Deo talked to Esquire Philippines about it, “After researching more about the shape of the clams and how the apex of the curves is for structural integrity, I knew this was the best form concept to apply for a tropical environment”. We share the pictures from the articles on Designboom and Esquire that will delight you with this avant-garde and unique proposition that is going to bring visitors to Bihing Tahik from around the world, and more triumphs to our dear friends at Dada.


We got captivated by Dada’s work when we learned about In Absentia, an ambitious and super smart project resulting from an in-depth study on “Healing our shores”, where Biomimicry, (a practice that learns from and mimics the strategies found in nature to solve human design challenges—and find hope), is the key to understand the functioning of the different components of In Absentia and their relation. What In Absentia ultimately seeks to accomplish is avoiding the damaging effect that human consumption and waste have on wildlife. In this project, the energy is obtained directly from the latter without abusing or destroying it.

The concept starts with individual modular structures that will be 3D printed with Piezo technology out of recycled materials (mostly collected from garbage thrown in the ocean). These structures resemble the heads of elephants drinking water and have flares that move up and down along with the tide generating power. They will be initially located close to the shore, but their distance from it will increase as there are more and more in place. All connected, they will create a complex floating urban-like assemblage where residents can live and work, while the buildings continue fueling, repurposing waste, and accelerating the growth of coral reefs underneath. Discover why were pachyderms chosen as inspiration by Deo in the interview where he asserts “Nature is perfect in design”.


Now let’s talk now about how Currents for Currents, the award-winning Aquatecture development, began its course to becoming renowned in the field. The chosen location for the design is near the home of the Sama-Bajau, commonly also known as the Sea Gypsys, a population of nomads who live on the water in The Philippines in one of the deprived areas of the archipelago. The floating city in Currents for Currents is made of multipurpose advanced and elegant dwellings that resemble sailboats, which Deo remembers from his childhood times spent in Mindanao where entire citizenries, live on crowded human-made islands sustained by the ancient sagesse of indigenous cultures.

The team at Dada Design could not be more pleased with Currents for Currents. They believe their project’s recognition may translate into better conditions for the communities where the developments and marvels are built. From the beginning, their interest in pairing functionality for human society with earth-conscious solutions called the attention of relevant magazines and even the Government.

Dada’s ecological approach is a response to the pollution problems often experienced by the city of Makati, house to their headquarters, and one that only first-row witnesses can come up with.


Deo’s philosophy prevents people’s customs and life at sea from being displaced by technology. His design approach is simple: small solutions to big problems are more effective. They depend less on politics, bureaucracy, or big societal changes.

Deo thinks that the modernization of a millennial economy with lighthouses on floating stales that source enough energy and give it back to the inland city combined with income generated from water, is a concrete way of empowering the country at large. An envisioned solar fabric that will shield and shape the houses will amplify capacity and coverage.


Visit Dada Design’s website to appreciate the various angles and industries available in their Architecture catalogs, such as Kalye Artisano - Rattan House and Road Less Traveled.


Click below to watch The Floating Cities Show Episode 3, and enjoy a Company video shared with us by their team.

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