THRIVING IN THE STRENGTH AND SPIRIT OF COLLABORATION: GK RUSTIA

THIS RISING FIRM IN ANTIPOLO THRIVES IN CREATING LIFE-CHANGING SPACES THROUGH

CLOSE COLLABORATION AMONG THE PARTNERS, THE TEAM, AND THE CLIENTS



Building a design and construction business in the ever-evolving world of architecture isn’t a journey to be taken lightly. But although GK Rustia is a fresh four-year-old in the industry, there’s no trace of rawness in any of their top-level projects. Every line is clean and precise, each corner seamless, and all the finished homes strikingly modern and elegant.


Two halves of a whole

The skilled work of GK Rustia isn’t surprising if you know the individuals behind the venture: Gino Rustia and Katherine Reyes, both seasoned professionals in the fast-paced and often cutthroat world of design and construction. Even in the beginning, when they were slaving over their drawings in a cramped family home with only a handful of employees, the pair was confident in their abilities to create unique and beautiful spaces.


The challenge was in the things that lie outside their realm of expertise, including piles of paperwork, dealing with bureaucracy, securing permits and licenses—all of these required from every business owner. “Even if we knew nothing about starting a company, we opted to do everything on our own,”


Reyes says. “We didn’t want to rely on an agency, we wanted to know every single step needed.”

Now, it’s plain to see that hard work and perseverance paid off. In those uncertain early days of GK Rustia, the two founders relied on their strong and balanced partnership as the foundation of the company. Luckily, Rustia and Reyes have a natural chemistry that translated smoothly from friendship into business.


The pair met working in the same Singapore company, eventually realizing that they shared the same dream of coming home to the Philippines and establishing an independent practice of their own. With Rustia specializing in construction and Reyes in design, it was clear that they are a perfect fit. Trained in the line of fire under Singapore’s up-tempo world of design and construction, the founders agreed to establish the same professional standards in GK Rustia as big-name firms. Maintaining fast-paced operations is especially important, Rustia shares, with the construction and design teams moving and coordinating together as early as the planning stages. “This way, the work is timely, and we can foresee possible problems ahead of time,” he explains. “The key is good planning.”


Together, Rustia and Reyes slowly built up an impressive roster of stunning residential and commercial works. And with each completed project, GK Rustia continues to master a modern aesthetic trademarked by sleek roof designs and eye-catching louvres in the façade.


GK Rustia founders Reyes and Rustia in their newly built Antipolo office in March 2020


A happy marriage with clients

Pristine lines, crisp hues, and artful use of light and space resonate with a wide variety of clientele. But for Rustia and Reyes, their signature style comes secondary to the client’s vision. The pair is committed to put this vision at the forefront, recognizing the enormity of being entrusted with building a family’s home or a business’ hard-earned commercial space.


“Our biggest priority is always the client,” Reyes says, pointing out that every individual has a different idea of beauty. “Our skills and talents serve the client’s vision, and so every project becomes a truly collaborative process.”


The group’s penchant for forging connections is a crucial element of operations. From the first meeting to house blessing, Rustia, Reyes, and the rest of the personnel work closely with their clients. As the team gets to know parties who will be living or working in the building—finding out the nature of their work, hobbies, and daily routine—GK Rustia becomes more equipped to build a space that’s not just beautiful but also functional. In a way, it is a marriage borne out of a common goal and strengthened by

respect, transparency, and open communication.



Sometimes, the client-company relationship paves the way for a genuine friendship. One of the firm’s first projects was a three-story SJDM Bulacan residence for a family based in the United States for

the entirety of the design and construction process.


It felt heaven-sent to the founders of GK Rustia who remember praying for an opportunity to establish themselves in the field. “They trusted the team even if we were very new,” Reyes recalls fondly. “(The owners) only came back after the house was finished, and we even helped them buy furniture. Up to now, we’re still in close contact with them; they’re such a wonderful family.”


Rustia and Reyes’ devotion to clients, along with their uncanny ability to instantly connect with a wide range of characters, is a large part of what draws so many people to them. And even beyond the clients, the devotion extends to other branches of the GK Rustia family.


1,500 SQM RESIDENCE

Here, a sprawling GK Rustia residence that extends 1,500 square meters. This home exhibits the clean and precise style that GK Rustia is known for. Inspired by resort living, the residence features several indoor and outdoor living spaces. Filled with high ceilings and large open concept spaces, it is a family home fit for a luxury vacation. What’s a resort without a pool? A long swimming pool can be viewed from the entire stretch of the house.


150 SQM RESIDENCE

Completed in February 2020, this 150-square-meter residence was built with a modern industrial design. The open plan concept suits a growing family with wide open spaces and high-quality materials that are built to last. Along with form and function, Rustia and Reyes ensured a home that makes the most of its charming provincial location.



150 SQM RESIDENCE

Another 150 sqm residence by GK Rustia, this Colinas Verdes family home showcases the firm’s masterful use of space. The beauty is in the details—from the sleek façade to the elegant interiors, GK Rustia knows how to make a statement. A crisp, well-designed lighting system in the bathroom illuminates the space. A stunning fence and front gate showcase and complement the great design of the residence while keeping it secure.


550 SQM RESIDENCE

The three-story 550 sqm residence in Antipolo explores the boundaries of external and internal areas. Sleek and innovative, this contemporary residence is an eye-catching to the neighborhood


120 SQM RESIDENCE

Soaring ceilings and a fairy-tale grand staircase create a sense of space in this 120 sqm residence. The play of dark and light hues in the kitchen creates a dramatic look that is beautifully modern. An open concept connects the main door, living and dining areas, kitchen, lanai, and deck. A home with a view: full-length glass windows connect the residents to their beautiful local surroundings. In the bathroom, highlights include smartly positioned lighting and the large mirror.


“GK Rustia prioritizes professional development and encourages teamwork, collaboration, and communication.”

A strong business with family bonds

Perhaps there’s a little bit of cliché in calling a place of business a family, but step inside the firm’s modern Antipolo office, and you’ll realize that the sentiment is more than just platitudes for GK Rustia. Everyone is working hard on their stations, but the atmosphere is relaxed despite the demands of the job and the nature of their work. “We want to treat our staff as family, to make sure that there’s mutual respect between us,” Reyes explains. After all, she points out, employees who are happy and at ease are more likely to learn, excel, and ultimately help the company grow. With pride, she shares, “Two of our Junior Architects already have several completed projects under their belt, including residential and office spaces. And they’ve only been here for two years!”


In the beginning, the tiny group only consisted of the two founders, Rustia’s brother Jhayar, and 15 trusted workers; three years later, the number has jumped to nearly 90 employees in total. “When we needed someone, they came,” Rustia says, remembering that the process was akin to building a family.


Every new person brought into the fold flourished in the close-knit group, and many employees describe it as a “family relationship.” “As a family, you trust, respect, encourage, love, help, and guide each other,” says Rica Del Rosario, one of the first hires of GK Rustia. Lichelle Anne Buhat agrees, adding that she appreciates the work environment at the firm. She explains, “GK Rustia prioritizes professional development and encourages teamwork, collaboration, and communication.”


While Rustia and Reyes require utmost professionalism and hard work in the office, the duo is just as likely to encourage the staff to spend time away from work and to achieve a work-life balance. After hours, it’s not uncommon to catch a glimpse of Rustia playing basketball with his band of workers or Reyes sharing food and coffee with the staff in the pantry. Boisterous Christmas parties with basketball tournaments and friendly holiday competitions allow the workers’ families to celebrate together like one big clan.


From the beginning, the two heads of the company dreamed of a workplace where they can express their passion for design and construction, but also fostered unity and innovation among employees. As Reyes puts it, they wanted to build a place where everyone is excited to go to work every day.


Not only does it make day-to-day operations more pleasant, but the strong personal bonds among the individuals at GK Rustia make it easier to collaborate when it comes to business, whether the team is in complete agreement or trying to resolve a conflict. And in pursuing their mission of making homes for clients, Rustia and Reyes found that they made a home of their own among the people of GK Rustia.


House on a Cliff

With GK Rustia’s lineup of varying projects, versatility is a must. Every client presents a new and exciting challenge, and Rustia reveals that he and Reyes always want to keep aiming higher and higher.


One of GK Rustia’s current projects is the House on a Cliff, a stunning home perched on an 850-square-meter sloping landscape in Antipolo with a 1200 sqm floor area. Overlooking a sweeping view of Laguna Lake, Manila Bay, and the surrounding mountains, the two-story residence is meant to be a fusion of resort-style living and family-friendly comfort. With stone and wood cladding, the home is designed to blend in harmony with the lush forested surroundings.


Lofty seven-meter sliding doors open to a luxurious living room with a peek of the sprawling master’s suite on the top floor. Built for a family of seven, the home features bedrooms for each child that opens directly onto the outdoor swimming pool area. From the pool, the family can enjoy awe-inspiring sunset views over the lakes every day.


To this day, both of the founders remain hands-on with every GK Rustia project. When Rustia is not on-site and Reyes is not planning every little piece of a design, they are likely to be found conversing with one of their many dependable staff. But House on a Cliff is a special collaboration between the two with the pandemic giving them the time and creativity to focus on perfecting this ambitious residence.


From a fledgling little company to a welloiled practice juggling several noteworthy projects at a time, GK Rustia has come a long way—and the future looks bright as ever. “We work hard to build relationships with good faith, trust, and respect,” Rustia concludes. “By doing this, we can create something really special.”


GK RUSTIA’S HOUSE ON A CLIFF

A multi-story family residence that is the largest residential space in the firm’s portfolio. A sloping lot with a 16-meter drop allowed Rustia and Reyes to pursue an innovative design highlighting the stunning natural views from all parts of the house. Natural materials like stone and wood allow the residence to blend into the beautiful tree-filled mountains.



GK RUSTIA CONSTRUCTION DEPARTMENT

led by Chief Managing Director Gino Carlo Rustia. Left to Right: Mark, Gino, Rosa, Ariz, Jhayar


GK RUSTIA PLANNING AND DESIGN DEPARTMENT

led by Principal Architect Katherine Reyes. Left to Right: Mhereen, Gika, Gem, Katherine, Ruth, Kirstie, Lich


GK RUSTIA

Left to Right: Arben, Mark, Rica, Mhereen, Rosa, Joy, Ruth, Kath, Gino, Gem, Miggy, Gika, Kirstie Lich, Aris, Jhayar


 

WORDS

Celia Nachura


IMAGES

GK Rustia, Daniel Deniega