‘Design thinking’ powers students in transforming architecture, interior design

RECOGNITION. ArchiNext 2024 awards “Bili na Suki” entry from University of San Carlos Architecture second place.
RECOGNITION. ArchiNext 2024 awards “Bili na Suki” entry from University of San Carlos Architecture second place.

“Drawing, drawing” is often a line that reflects the common misconception about academic programs, such as architecture and interior design. But contrary to what most people still think about the works of future design professionals undertaking their studies in these programs, it is definitely more than the strokes you see on paper.

HONOR. ASDA 3rd Place Winner. Hospitality bathroom design from University of San Carlos Interior Design.
HONOR. ASDA 3rd Place Winner. Hospitality bathroom design from University of San Carlos Interior Design.
PERSPECTIVE. Market interior.
PERSPECTIVE. Market interior.

The academic training for future architects and designers involves a lot of conceptualizations based on the different scenarios and contexts in the real world as well as trial and error in order to come up with the most appropriate design solution that impacts the users of a building or space. Creative thinking was put to the test for students of the University of San Carlos School of Architecture, Fine Arts and Design (USC Safad) when they represented their school in different national student design competitions. True enough, their academic training bore fruit as they emerged among the best in these contests.

SQUAD. University of San Carlos team as ArchiNext 2024 second placers: Pauline Malinao, Brice Alatraca and Henrick Cabanero.
SQUAD. University of San Carlos team as ArchiNext 2024 second placers: Pauline Malinao, Brice Alatraca and Henrick Cabanero.
BRIGHT. Interior Design student, Manuel Cynric Yee.
BRIGHT. Interior Design student, Manuel Cynric Yee.

Marketable market

In the recent edition of ArchiNEXT: HCG Young Designers’ Competition (AYDC), three architecture students from the USC Safad copped the second place in a contest that was participated in by more than 800 student entries from different architecture schools in the Philippines.

The 10th AYDC called for student participants to design a “central market” that would serve as a “significant commercial hub and supplier of fresh goods. Taking on the challenge were fourth year students from an Architectural Design 8 class with three teams, making it to the Top 40. When the list was further trimmed down into the Top 10, the team of Seth Aubin Brice Alatraca, Lou Henrick Tomross Cabanero and Pauline Malinao remained as the only team from a Cebu-based university. After presenting to the panel of architect jurors, they were awarded their final placement among the five best entries with a “Best in Presentation” award to boot.

Their design proposal, entitled “Bili na Suki,” takes inspiration from Cebuano iconography. The “Pudong” which is a familiar headdress worn by tribal chiefs in pre-colonial Philippines like Datu Lapu Lapu, dictated the overall building form of their proposed market. It was a definitive form that eventually stamped a distinct cultural identity to their design.

“The wrapping circular motion forms its building façade with the cloth’s tightened grooves as a particular element that accents it. The facade uses bent bamboo materials to create the organic effect of the bandana,” the students explained in their design write-up. This paved the way to their building that was not just a mere eye-candy in terms of form, but also holds a lot of relevance as far as history and local culture is concerned.

Perfection in impermanence

Another USC Safad student, this time from the interior design program, gained another accolade in a student design competition. Manuel Cynric Yee won third place in the American Standard Design Award Asia-Pacific (Philippines) for his hospitality bathroom space design. Under the theme “Home Away from Home,” the design brief called for the contestants “to design a bathroom for hotels that is tailored for travelers, couples and families in their 30s and 40s with children aged from six to 12.” The bathroom had to be designed within a nine to 10 square-meter space.

The first question that hit Cynric’s mind was how would he fit everything into such a small space. Dubbed “Yubi,” his proposal addressed the constraints with flair. After putting himself in the shoes of a hotel guest he thought of the most ideal concept, inspired by the Japanese-inspired “wabi-sabi.” Wabi-sabi deals with the awareness of the transient nature of things and the appreciation of their imperfection. With this, he designed a bathroom that utilized different materials that “interplayed with each other properly, creating a cohesive design, capturing the wabi-sabi aesthetic nicely.” He also took note of the wide array of bathroom fixtures available through the sponsor company. American Standard, that not only looked elegant but also easy to maintain, making it easier for him to choose the best toilet fixtures for his design.

Cynric was happy with the placement in the contest considering that this was his first competition related to his academic program.

“The concept of my design is to evoke a sense of raw authenticity which means it is not afraid to show its imperfection, making the guest feel homey, warm and welcomed,” he shared. “The ambiance created by well-designed interiors can evoke a sense of comfort, luxury and warmth, making guests feel welcomed and valued.”

The design process that these young student designers went through to come up with their prize-winning entries in these student design competitions further proves that architecture and interior design are not just mere “drawing, drawing.” Research, conceptualization and rounds of design development are essential to come up with the most appropriate designs for buildings and spaces to cater to its intended use. These guys may not yet be in the real world of design practice but seeing their works and how they strived to be excellent about their task, shows a bright future for Cebu’s design and creative world. S

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