AMONG the misconceptions about an architect’s works is that these are seen as creations of just pure artistry and aesthetics. There are still many that think (including other professionals who maliciously encroach into the architect’s scope of work) that architects are just there for the “superficial” side of design; all form and no substance.

But what makes architecture stand out is its sensitivity not only to the overall building form but also on its intended function once it is completed. Architects always make sure that whatever they incorporate into their design would serve a relevant purpose.

One of the masters of modern architecture, Mies Van Der Rohe, once said, “Form follows function.” This quote would later on reverberate into the architecture realm through the ages, underscoring the value of a building’s utilitarian side translating into economic and even social and psychological benefits to its users.

This iconic dictum is echoed in an emerging architectural landmark here in Cebu. Located in between two important business districts in the city, the 22-floor Avenir condominium building stands proudly along Archbishop Reyes Ave. as a gleaming monolith of architectural functionality. The architect Clive Aaron Guanzon, along with his wife and partner architect Ella Sanchez-Guanzon, revealed that the building’s eventual use as a condominium dictated their design of Avenir. They pointed out that the owner wanted to have a building that was not only beautiful, minimalist in design and reflective of the developer group’s dynamic presence but also one that would be efficient in terms of construction and later on, its use by various customers.

The lot where the building stands already presented a challenge for the architects. It was narrow and just outside of it, a stretch of the flyover creeps into its front approach. Amid the existing parameters and somewhat chaotic urban surrounding, the new building stood out with the presence of a portal, a design element that gives a warm welcome to building users and visitors. The portal is one of the three basic components of the Avenir building, together the podium and the residential tower itself.

The white horizontal lines that articulate the residential tower are not just mere eye candy. These ledges are utilitarian features that conceal air-conditioning units and connections that serve the building’s 300 residential units. The ledges, which are finished in plain white paint, also serve as tropical design devices that minimize solar glare permeating into the building interiors.

On top of the tower are recreational spaces like a gym and viewing decks. This allows residents to get a feel of the outdoors. The presence of this recreational roof deck reflects the self-sustaining character of the building, providing its residence with majority of their most basic needs. Ample parking for cars is also provided through a five-level space made more expansive through the use of transfer beams that confines important vertical supports towards the sides of the building. This structural approach produced unobstructed spaces from the parking areas to the “twisted” portal cube, the building’s main welcome feature.

Being the first high-rise project of the developer, the Avenir gives a great impression on its users and even passers-by in the area and a great part of it comes from an architectural design that is conscious to both aesthetics and practicality.