Cor Jesu, ‘a result of creative collaboration’

Buck Richnold Sia

SACRED Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu’s Cor Jesu oratory, a finalist in the World Architecture Festival (WAF) 2019, was a product of creative collaboration and not the work of only one individual, its architect clarified.

Industrial designer Kenneth Cobonpue and Zubu Design Associates are the collaborators of the Jesuit community’s 350-seat oratory in their campus in Barangay Cabancalan, Mandaue City, along with other architects, designers, consultants and the contractor.

Buck Richnold Sia, principal architect of Zubu Design Associates, also credited Architect Bryant Auman, the consultant on the use of bamboo, and Veepee Pinpin, the liturgical architect, as key collaborators who contributed to the project’s success.

In an interview on Saturday, July 20, 2019, Sia said he and Cobonpue, who are both graduates of Sacred Heart School, “acknowledged, respected and pushed each other to produce this great piece of architecture” for their alma mater.

The oratory, with its unique and innovative use of bamboo, received global recognition as a finalist in the religious buildings category of the WAF 2019 and highlighted the contribution of Cebu’s design professionals to the architecture community.

Cor Jesu will compete with four other religious buildings in the United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Thailand and Spain at the WAF 2019 in Amsterdam on Dec. 4 to 6.

The WAF recognizes exemplary work in projects with ingenuity, creativity, sustainability and those that push the ideas of architecture.

In a letter posted on Zubu Design Associates’ Facebook page clarifying the role of Cobonpue and Zubu Design Associates on the design of Cor Jesu, Sia acknowledged Cobonpue as a key collaborator in the design process, whose inputs were crucial for the success of the project.

“Kenneth conceived the concept of the form and idea that pushed Zubu Design Associates to learn his intuitive approach. At the same time, he acknowledges our contribution through our own critique, analysis and execution and vast experience in modern architecture theory and application to ensure the idea will excel in form, detail and function,” he said.

Zubu Design Associates, on the other hand, was responsible for “evolving the idea” during the preparation of the project timeline while leading the design development, preparing contract documents and supervising the construction.

“Thus his (Cobonpue) involvement based on our professional scope of service is about 10 to 20 percent of the project. However, for those familiar with the pareto principle, the 80/20 principle, I will still consider a huge amount of his idea as a driver that resulted in the great design output as acknowledged by the project being a finalist at the WAF,” Sia said in the letter.

He credits the detailing, precision of the curves, the development of key elements like the bamboo ceiling “to my expertise of designing progressive modern buildings.”

“I was in charge of the design in collaboration with Kenneth, of the development of the design to ensure that it’s perfectly detailed, that proper materials are used, the proportion is correct, and coordination with all the engineers to make sure that the project is well-built,” Sia said during the interview.

Sia posted the letter in response to the concern of architects on the downplaying of the architect as part of the success of Cor Jesu in several media reports.

For Sia, the role of the architect is crucial as it is accountable for the project and its compliance with laws and regulations.

“For the public’s education, we do have a liability and accountability for the project. That’s why it is crucial for a building to be vouched, signed, designed and specified with everything we can do to ensure the safety and code compliance, by a professional licensed by the Professional Regulation Commission,” he said. (JOB, LRC)


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