Architecture and the ‘new normal’

Eldred Caesar Tan, FUAP architect/master plumber
Eldred Caesar Tan, FUAP architect/master plumber

THE pandemic has forced many to revisit the way they live and work. In the built environment, architects are re-thinking their design approaches beyond columns and enclosures. Orchestrating art and science, architects are considering the building users’ well-being along with several other factors in the environment, already altered by the rampage of Covid-19.

In line with the celebration of World Architecture Day, SunStar LIVE! features Cebuano architects who are highly regarded by their peers for their admirable works in their respective fields. They are members of United Architects of the Philippines (UAP) College of Fellows, an institution within the UAP composed of members nominated by their colleagues and elevated to “Fellowship” for their notable contributions to architecture and their outstanding service to the organization. For their experience in their fields, they act as advisory council for the UAP and the younger architects.

Let us read some of their thoughts on architecture’s role in the “new normal.”

“In the new normal, we need to look beyond our basic role of designing buildings. We consider creating ‘breathing spaces’ that will hopefully expand our client’s well-being and give them a sense of balance in their lives. Above all, we should consider the natural environment as the basis for developing an integral design solution.”

Arsenio Abella, FUAP, senior architect (ATD Architects)/artist

“All professionals are important and must be on board to share their expertise in the new normal. The allocation of space and design of effective building systems make a big difference to control the spread of infection. Planning and designing of the built environment in response to the community’s critical issues and concerns is the role of the architect.”

Margret Rosario, MTE, FUAP, dean (School of Architecture Fine Arts and Design, University of San Carlos)

“Architects are trained to assess situations, collaborate with relevant professionals and plan for the future. In addressing pandemics, functional physical design solutions are needed. They are the prime professionals to collaborate with relevant health and technical professionals to resolve functional design problems in buildings to address Covid-19 and future pandemics.”

Joseph Michael Espina, MUrP, FUAP, principal architect (EPEA Design Firm)

“By virtue of their academic training, creativity, experience and exposure, architects possess a better grasp of human nature, environment, community and urban dynamics. These enable them to come up with environment-friendly designs that allow better human interaction within the community. Architects usually have an eye for things that an untrained individual may not even be able to imagine.”

Eldred Caesar Tan, FUAP architect/master plumber

“Design should adapt to the health protocols. A substantial change is lesser dependence on air-conditioning systems, plan for wider spaces and provide natural air whenever possible. It’s not only healthy but also sustainable and energy-efficient. However, we should also be flexible when we revert back to the normal times.”

Jose Mari Cañizares, FUAP, principal architect (Cañizares Architects Design Co.)

“We meet the needs of the client and input unfelt needs to guide them in capturing the opportunities of the vicinity. As stewards of God’s creation, architects share rich experience, talent and resources to the communities. We promote servant leadership in policy advocacy for green and livable cities.”

Socorro Atega, FUAP, architect/landscape architect

“From a non-medical side, pandemics are spatial problems. We need architects because they are trained to deal with spatial problems — why one space must be adjacent to another, how rooms relate to each other, why they should be interconnected and how volumes interrelate.”

Jensen Racho, PhD, FUAP, Asean architect, president/chief executive officer (Racho Architects)

“Design our buildings, whether for commercial or office use, to suit the safety requirements of health authorities due to the pandemic and future ones, just in case. If only architects can design a façade of a modern building which can deflect viruses, that would be awesome!”

Benjamin Avila, FUAP, architect

“Under the present circumstances of the pandemic, architects take front and center positions in the fight to mitigate its effects. This pandemic requires the reimagining of environments and spaces, which falls squarely on the doorstep of the profession. Not only has it become necessary to retrofit the built environment, it is also imperative that we make certain a better normal, not only safe but convenient and aesthetically-pleasing. While architects may not be the only profession tasked with the creation of better environments, they most certainly are at the forefront of the effort.”

Omar Maxwell Espina, MUrP, FUAP, principal architect (EPEA Design Firm)


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