Further to my rejoinder to Paulo Alcazaren, in my succeeding posts, I will showcase of what our local architects community could be doing to become more relevant to the urban discourse and have more of an impact in improving the quality of life in our megacity.
IDEA 1: They can begin educating their countrymen about the built environment and how it shapes our civic life.
The UK has the Commission of Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE), a government funded statutory body, that "is the government’s advisor on architecture, urban design and public space."
From the CABE site:
We work directly with architects, planners, designers, developers and clients, offering them guidance on projects that will shape lives. And parks and open spaces are as important to us as bricks and mortar.
As the government's advisor, CABE provides expert, practical advice.
More after the jump...
CABE encourages policy makers to create places that are safe, beautiful and efficient to run. Our activity includes:
- advising clients, contractors, architects and planners - design review of significant proposals for buildings and public spaces
- helping public agencies with good design - providing free enabling advice direct to public agencies which are commissioning new buildings, masterplans, urban frameworks or green space strategies
- supporting public agencies in boosting their in-house design expertise
- promoting better education, skills and careers for the built environment
- conducting research and running campaigns on architecture, design and public spaces and encouraging the public to demand higher standards in buildings and spaces.
One of CABE's key projects is to prepare educational materials and curricula for UK schools. The program "invites pupils to approach the places and spaces they inhabit from different perspectives, encouraging long-term engagement and a realisation that, as young people, they have a valid contribution to make to the development of their local area."
CABE leads the outstanding How Places Work -a program of facilitated visits to buildings and spaces for secondary schools designed to inspire young people to learn about the built environment through first hand experience. (Download the Teacher's Guide here. -pdf 1mb)
I used to teach in a local private high school and I remember the students would go on immersion programs that introduced them to the issues of the urban or rural poor. What strikes me now is how the conversations about the plight of the poor were totally disconnected to the conditions of their physical environment. Economics is not the only determinant of poverty in our megacities, it is also determined by physical and locational factors. The conditions of our slums has its roots in our shared (but largely unconscious) paradigm of "the good city" and our understanding of the dynamics that shape it.
The United Architects of the Philippines (UAP) ("awardee of the Professional Regulation Commission's Most Outstanding Accredited Professional Organization of the Year 2002" -so they trumpet) could do well to put "educating the nation about the role of the built environment" in their otherwise bellygazing organization objectives.
And while we're asking about where the architects are -or what they should be doing -I also have to ask, where are the Filipino urban planners?
(Up Next: IDEA 2 -They can be advocates.)
Published by CABE.