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Saturday, August 24, 2013
THE school is a student’s “second home” as they say. But students will never consider them as such if they listen to lectures, answer examinations or interact with fellow students inside buildings that give them the impression of being incarcerated.
Rooms that somehow give justice to the cliche “the four walls of the classroom” are considered as cramped and gloomy because of the poor layout and the lack of natural lighting and ventilation.
Discomfort brought about by these inconsiderate designs affect the student’s classroom behavior, which may result in doing poorly in his classroom activities. This is why the design of school buildings, whether public or private, should go beyond just satisfying a certain quota in the number of classrooms and put emphasis on the quality of these enclosures for learning as well as its relationship with the other spaces in the school building.
The school buildings within the University of San Carlos (USC) are created by experienced architects who are very sensitive not just of the ideal image that the building would project and the convenience of those using the rooms and spaces but also adapting to natural site conditions. The designs give a feeling of lightness to counterbalance the heavy loads of lectures, projects and tests that often emerge within the rooms of the academic institution.
Among the new addition to the USC campuse is the four-storey school building at its North Campus in Gen. Maxilom Ave. It is named after Fr. Romeo Bancale, the last administrative principal of the former Boys’ High School. The building was completed just last year.
The school building replaced the old one-storey structure with six classrooms for the kindergarten classes. There are now 10 rooms on the ground floor level subdivided into the elementary and high school computer rooms, electronic shop and the drafting rooms. There are also 10 classrooms in the second and third floors that have flexible partitions that would unite the smaller classrooms into a big function hall. The topmost floor is dedicated for the science laboratories.
The different floors are “linked” by a “ribbon ramp,” named as such by its architect because its path has a crossing loop that has enough headroom from the junction where they meet. Overall, the design of the building appears light and airy, which creates a more relaxed and “homey” atmosphere for its users.
The ideals of the university are also integrated in the building’s design. The pilotis (or piers) that line in front of the building possess familiar colors extracted from the university’s logo. Apart from this, its architect, Ellis Puerto, points out that there is a commemorative wall where the primary virtues of USC: science, virtue and devotion—are “emblazoned with perforations astride signifying the North Star.”
This feature is almost reminiscent of the Larkin Administration Building designed by the great American architect Frank Lloyd Wright in New York.
Built at the start of the 1900s, it was one of Wright’s earliest buildings together with his Prairie houses. It had stone panels where important work virtues are etched to constantly remind of the employees about them to be more productive and passionate about their jobs.
“Below it is a dark green granite slab that awaits the names of alumni batches and individuals who wish to etch their support for the institution by endowment,” adds the architect. This gives those who have exited the hallowed halls of this university an attachment to their alma mater even way beyond their vibrant years as students.
So when USC welcomes its alumni and other visitors to its various campuses all over the city for its Foundation Week celebration next week, the new buildings, like the Bancale Building, will surely be refreshing sights to see and experience.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 25, 2013.