We ‘connect’ humans and structures, Filipino architects underscore

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08:11 PM September 20th, 2013

By: Tessa R. Salazar, September 20th, 2013 08:11 PM

Think of any iconic manmade structure anywhere in the world, and you will realize that you cannot remove it from the culture and history that have shaped it, and it has shaped in return. The book “Architectural Excellence” names 500 of these structures, among them are The Parthenon, Notre Dame, The Forbidden City, The Great Mosque of Damascus, The Globe Theater, Cardiff Castle.

Behind these landmark structures—and for that matter, any structure—is architecture. Architecture—the art and science of designing and erecting buildings and other physical structures—is not just limited to building structures themselves, but also involves considerations for the site and the effects of nature. Gwyn Headley, author and architectural historian, says: “To use an 18th century term of approbation, building without being aware of the genius of the place is not architecture, it is a dictatorship. Google Earth can only take you so far—consider the story of the winds.”

In the Philippines, where all the four elements—wind, water, earth and fire—jostle for man’s attention all year round, the importance of architects are highlighted even more, as they are often involved in designing structures that are not only aesthetically astute, but are also safe, add quality to the community’s life, and when public funds are involved, help save local governments from costly repairs and maintenance.

As the Oct. 7 World Architecture Day approaches, Inquirer Property sought the views of three architects who are all members of the United Architects of the Philippines, the association who will spearhead a convention on that day.

Key concern

Asian Architects managing partner Mike Guerrero says: “The key concern (of architects) is sustainability, since we design the built environment that ultimately alters nature. It is our task as architects to insure that we design with nature, that we are collaborators with nature.”

Nathaniel von Einsiedel, PhD, chair and principal urban planner of Consultants for Comprehensive Environmental Planning Inc., enumerates that, as “an architect as well as an urban environmental planner,” his concerns are:

• The contribution of the project to the alleviation of poverty, compliance with the required 20-percent socialized housing for residential subdivision projects and condominiums—within the same city where the project is being undertaken;

• The environmental implications of the project, for example, the possible ecological impact and/or aggravation of flooding incidence of reclamation projects.

Guerrero further explains the parameters of an architect’s work: “First, by advocacy that sustainability can be achieved by all. Second, by designing all our projects in a sustainable way. Third, by sharing our professional skills of designing sustainably with society, most specially the base of the pyramid (BoP).”

Guerrero reveals that UAP has instituted a corporate social responsibility program which will be implemented by all the UAP chapters. Von Einsiedel adds that UAP would hold “regular continuing education seminars/workshops on balancing the economic, social and environmental objectives of property development projects.”

“It is important for architects to understand and appreciate that the design of sites and buildings have not only economic benefits, but also social and environmental consequences—that they have a responsibility not only to their clients, but to society as well,” Von Einsiedel adds.

Dignity of human being

Maria Cynthia Y. Funk, principal of Atelier Funk Architecture, says: “It is architecture that helps raise the dignity of the human being because it defines an individual. It defines a nation. It helps shape people’s lives through safer, accessible and appealing designs.”

She explains that architecture is a social science. “Anyone can just build. But who can step back and look at the whole situation? The architect, in collaboration with others, makes the connection.”

The World Architecture Day will be held at the Market!Market! in Taguig.

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