what, not where (2):
the filipino architect as educator

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.)

Image credit: Extract from How Places Work, Teacher's Guide.
Published by CABE.


FLW fan said...

Urbano, this article that came out from the Inquirer relates to your post "architect as educator"

The rewards of being a mentor

By Marcos de Guzman Jr.
Last updated 00:33am (Mla time) 01/13/2007

ONE OF THE rewarding experiences of my practice is to meet and work with people who carry with them a promise, a treasure of great possibilities.

Many of them enter my office right after graduation and some during the early part of their profession. So I consider this as a challenge and a responsibility as well to guide them in discovering their potentials and with training, develop them to full capacity.

One of these young apprentices is Anna Lira V. Luis, who had spent a considerable time being trained in our office, Architecture Network. After almost 10 years since she left to enter Taliesin, an architecture school of Frank Lloyd Wright, in Arizona, United Sates, there have been more and more reasons to be proud of her. And this is not only true for me to speak of, but also for our fellow Filipinos to cheer for. The recommendation letter I wrote for her future school then was but one of the vehicles of her entry. It was her qualities that won the scrutiny of the selection team.

Filipino apprentice architect

In 2000, she has been considered as the first Filipino apprentice architect. It was moving that she even took the detail of inviting me to her graduation.

Lira, as many familiarly call her, continues to practice the concept of mentoring through learning by doing. She carries this out whenever she gives speeches to major universities and organizations. She went back to the country a number of times to precisely do so and enrich the home ground with her Taliesin experience. Just last year she released her audio book “Frankly Speaking It’s the Wright Way.”


We can see her advocacy for a sustainable architecture in her $4-million sustainable mall design at the upscale Arrowhead Towne Center in Glendale, Arizona. It was designed with a tectonic shift from a quintessential retail development.

Lira once stated, “Architects have an increasing challenge to make communities more livable and sustainable, which are innately cross-disciplinary. We need to have an interdisciplinary approach to problem solving that enables us to understand our clients so we can educate them about the built environment.

She now principals Atelier Lira Luis, LLC and has been recently appointed chair of the Digital Visualization component of Taliesin Fellowship.

In a personal sense, mentoring is as what Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe stated “Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, and you may help them to become what they are capable of being.” Moreover architects through their words and works, mentor a broad spectrum in society: from students, peers, to clients.

(Lira Luis is a Filipino architect based in the USA who has designed buildings for several of the Fortune 500 companies in the USA. She continues the tradition of mentorship via Atelier Lira Luis, LLC.)


Copyright 2007 Inquirer. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Urbano dela Cruz said...

flw fan,

Thanks. a poster calling himself "sustainable advocate" also wrote about Lira in his comments on my original rejoinder.


kiteplody said...

http://pinoy-architect.tk - pinoy architect/filipino architect community forum

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