(By: Arch. BENJAMIN K. PANGANIBAN JR. )
ARCHITECTS have been known to be designers of shelter for man. In most urban centers around the country, especially in Metro Manila, society has already accepted and grasped the concept that owners should always have an architect involved when they intend to create an environment where man lives, work and play, especially in vertical structures.
The tall condominium buildings, the mixed-used commercial complexes and residential units, the sprawling malls and entertainment areas, the rising sports complexes and spiritual sanctuaries, the subdivision planning and housing settlements, and many more are the prime domain of the architect’s work.
That is why architecture is defined as an Art, Science or Profession of planning, designing and constructing buildings in their totality taking into ac-count their environment, in accordance with the principles of unity, strength and beauty. And as such in simple layman’s term is the art and science of buildings, of vertical structures and of the habitat of man.
The architect is the prime professional for this type of work who is professionally and academically qualified. He is registered and licensed under Republic Act 9266 or the Architecture Act of 2004 with a Certificate of Registration and Professional Identification Card. The architect is responsible for advocating the fair and sustainable development, welfare and cultural expression of society’s habitat in terms of space, forms and historical context, ow-ing to four significant factors. The first is the academic qualifications, the second is the professional development, the third is the international recognized work of the architects, and the fourth is the history of civilization.
Academically, no other technical allied profession comes close to the learnings and knowledge derived by the architect. These are five years of being educated on vertical structures for man from all types of designing, planning and technical sciences. Airports, low cost housing units, high end residen-tial complexes, institutional buildings such as schools, hospitals, government offices and complexes, court buildings and the likes, auditoriums, commer-cial buildings, farm buildings and rural development complexes, buildings and planning layout of industrial processing complexes, churches and spiritu-al complexes, and many more are some of the examples an architect-to-be learns in school. The study of how it is to be planned, designed and construct-ed.
Architects not only draw beautifully, hence the art side of architecture, but also construct what they will put down on paper. Architects are taught the fundamentals of the science side of constructing buildings. The rudiments they learn on the stability of a building are already taught in the mathematics they take up also in relation to the type, kind and specific materials to be used. The mathematics they learn on the theory of constructing vertical struc-tures is not that much highlighted to society but definitely, the architect-to-be undergoes the academic proficiency of this science without excuse. It is a must to learn the structural stability of a building, hence the science side of architecture.
Coupled with this before he takes the licensure exam is the mandatory two-year apprenticeship work with a license and registered architect practicing the profession. This is so as to become accustomed to the various scope of works the architect does in real life. The professional dealings with the cli-ents, the preparation of contract documents, the construction phase of the work dealing with various allied professionals and friends in the industry, the government obligations and permits and even the relationship of employees in an architectural firm are part of their apprenticeship programs they have to comply before they take the licensure exams for architects.
On the professional development, an architect undergoes continuing professional development or the CPD seminars where modules covering pro-fessional practice, building sciences, design, environment and sustainability and the like are required of the professional architect to take before renewing his license. The purpose of which is to update and upgrade the learnings of the architects amidst the modern changes to the profession. Nowadays, con-struction technology has been rapidly changing, making construction practices newer, better, faster and safer. That is why the architects have to learn the newer trades, the fast-changing systems of erecting vertical structures and be exposed to the construction business best practices.
In the international arena and around the world, what is commonly known in recognizing professionals for vertical structures are the architects. You will always here the statement “who is the architect of that building”. And that is true because the internationally accepted academic curriculum for verti-cal structures that are of man’s habitat is that of the architect. He is the prime builder although admittedly, the architect’s firm works in collaboration with other technical allied professionals who specializes in various fields of practices to put up a stunning masterpiece, whether the structure is a small or big project. In short, the architect orchestrates the whole team together like a conductor putting together a beautiful musical sonata. Nowhere in the interna-tional mainstream after people see a stunning structure, do you hear of people asking “who is the engineer or developer of the building”. That is why the architect is respected because his design and constructed icon changes the landscape of a certain community for the better, even improving the economic and cultural way of life in a given place. That is how significant an architect influences society. Example of these structures is the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain constructed in a decaying community which now is a thriving economic tourist attraction. Then there is The Gherkin skyscraper in Lon-don created in a blighted community which now is an expensive property section in London. There are much more internationally recognized architec-tural works that have redefined government progress, cultural upheavals, economic prosperity, tourist-oriented attractions and even prevention of lives and property from natural disasters.
For natural calamities, the importance of having the right professional to do the quality of construction will spell the difference on lives and proper-ties. Several recent earthquakes and severe typhoons have devastated places around the country that questions arose on the granting of construction of building permits inevitably on locations that are earthquake-prone areas lying in fault lines and much more importantly are done not by the qualified, registered and license professionals. They may be done by people trying to practice architecture, with no proper academic background who feel it is im-portant to profit more than look after the welfare of the occupants.
Lastly is history itself. History can open man’s mind, clear his thoughts from seeing the end result first, remove greed and profit so as to identify the right professional for the right profession. Since time immemorial, starting during the Greek times going towards the Roman empire, the architects in the Greek language meant master builder, an architect, the superintendent in the erection of buildings. And the likes of the Pyramid of Giza, the Parthenon of Greece, the mighty coliseum of Rome, the Westminster Palace in London, the Victorian government structures in the USA, the planned government complexes in Brazil and in Canberra, the Cultural Center of the Philippines, the modern Dongdaemun Design Plaza complex in Seoul and the convention center in Baku, Azerbaijan. All of these have been planned, designed and constructed by architects and their team of allied professionals. These struc-tures and complexes give order to man’s environment and stand the test of time.
The writer is the current national president of the United Architects of the Philippines and the first national president coming from Mindanao. He has been in the private practice for more than 34 years and is a Fellow of the UAP. He is also the first ASEAN architect and APEC architect coming from Davao City. He is a graduate of BS Architecture from the University of Mindanao, a Doctor Fellow of the Royal Institute of Architects Singapore and a recipient of the European Business Assembly.