Shaping the future of PH architecture
It was Winston Churchill who said: “We shape our buildings, and afterwards, our buildings shape us.”
I truly believe that architecture can change and uplift lives. It has always been my vision, with Buensalido+Architects to bring positive change through the built environment, starting with reflecting the contemporary Filipino identity and culture in our own architecture.
While the architecture in other countries clearly exude their respective cultures and histories, our spaces here are either a literal reincarnation of traditional models like the bahay kubo—which, while inherently Filipino, is not an appropriate structure for today’s modern context—or a hodgepodge of foreign styles, that sadly do not meet the needs of our local context nor reflect our own culture. We need to discover and claim our identity if we want to compete and converse globally.
In our practice, we have what we call “Four Points of Philippine Culture in Architecture” that we integrate into our designs, namely: responsive vernacular models (typologies that respond to existing cultural, climate, social and technological conditions); weaving (bringing together disparate elements to achieve something new and innovative); personalization (our need for individual expression, so that there is no one-size-fits-all solution); and optimism (infusing that world-renowned joy and resilience).
It is through these principles that we infuse our Filipino identity in a non-literal and more meaningful way. It’s not about insisting to our clients to bring back the bahay kubo or bahay na bato (these two are not the only vernacular architectural typologies). Rather, it’s about understanding the context, as well as the needs and objectives of our clients and our spaces, and being ready to respond accordingly, as guided by our points and vision.
For us, we cannot keep it within the confines of our practice. That’s why we launched in 2014 the B+Abble, which is a series of talks on contemporary art and culture, bringing together relevant speakers to engage with a community of progressive and optimistic creatives.
We are also supporting Foundree, a progressive learning center for architecture and the built environment, giving courses for underlicensed architects who are studying for the boards as well as for the practicing ones who want to learn more. I’d like our impact to go beyond structures and spaces, and into the hearts and mindsets of future generations.
The author is the principal architect and chief design ambassador for Buensalido Architects.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.