Revitalizing an old district

THE Creative Council of Cebu is scheduled to present to the ASEAN Creative Cities Network next year the result of the 10-day research workshop on reinvigorating Cebu’s historic landmarks in Indonesia.

Some 38 participants, composed of architects and architecture students from all over the country and Asia, worked on a revitalization scheme of Cebu’s “old commercial district”, where Compania Maritima is located.

Compiled in a book, the research workshop output will be launched next year and sold globally.

“The thirst for design in Cebu is really high,” said Architect Buck Sia, the president of Cebu’s Creative Council. “The turnout of the workshop was really high. The interest (in learning) is there,” said Sia, adding that inclusion in the workshop is sought-after in the industry. Cebu’s turnout was the highest in Southeast Asia.

The council brought in last July the Architectural Association Visiting School (AAVS) to study and reinvigorate Cebu’s “old city” from City Hall to Compania Maritima.

The program under AAVS Streetware Southeast Asia was also done in collaboration with the University of San Carlos.

AAVS is the prestigious London-based school of design and architecture, which produced world-renowned names in the architecture profession like Zaha Hadid and Rem Koolhaas.

Cebu was chosen by the AAVS for being part of the Southeast Asian Creative Cities Network.

According to Sia, four London-based architects also joined the research workshop to teach advanced thinking in design.

“The great thing about the research workshop is that we were able to show how we invigorated the old city out of new modern ways of thinking,” he said.

According to Sia, the research workshop was an opportunity for Cebu to showcase its rich culture and history and how design can bring out the city’s historic image amid the rapid progress it is experiencing.

According to a report, “the design of the historic district was a product of careful consideration of important “layers” like circulation and flow, infrastructure and network, activity and user, scale, solids and voids, time, rhythm and pattern, horizontality and verticality, edge and boundary and greens and water. Each group in the workshop was assigned a specific ‘layer’ to work on.”

The output of the research workshop was also presented to the members of the Metro Cebu Development and Coordination Board, Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. and to other industry stakeholders last month.

Meanwhile, Sia urged Filipino architects to step up to remain competitive amid the ASEAN integration.

Sia, a past president of United Architects Of the Philippines (UAP-Cebu Chapter), said the ASEAN integration is both an opportunity and threat for local architects.

For them to compete head on with the possible entry of foreign professionals into the country, Sia suggest they should beef up their skills.

“We need to increase our level of skills and experiences backed by theory and design research,” said Sia, adding that the integration also opens up more project opportunities for local architects.

The entry of foreign developers, for instance, increases chances of local architects to showcase their designs and skills.

Moreover, Sia urged the government to update its educational system for architecture, saying that the current curriculum and system being practiced is one of the hurdles for local practitioners.

Sia emphasized the need to update the curriculum that is in line with the current needs of the global industry.

“They (educational system) always develop us to be skilled employees rather than thinkers and designers,” said Sia.
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