National Architecture Week: The N(e)aw normal - shifting norms in the practice of architecture

December 8, 2020 | By: Arch. Renato A. Heray, FUAP (as published in The Manila Times last December 8, 2020)

THE second week of December has always been dedicated to the celebration of National Architecture Week (NAW) pursuant to Presidential Proclamation 934 issued by President Ferdinand E. Marcos.

National Architecture Week was officially observed for the first time on Dec. 12, 1971, and was highlighted by the celebration of the golden year of the architectural profession. A grand reunion of architects was held at the Manila Polo Club to honor the pioneer architects, the first 100 in the country’s roster.

While celebrations like this are usually remembered for its pomp, its lasting legacy is owed to the values we can draw from individual activities and the celebration as a whole. These activities should always bring us to reflect on ourselves and that of our practice of architecture. Such realizations should, in turn, encourage us into action so that we become better people and more responsible professionals.

My highest gratitude and appreciation to my colleagues in the National Board of Directors, chapters officers and members, and to the Commission on Governmental and External Affairs under the directorship of Arch. Jason S. Ang, and Committee on NAW Celebration under the chairmanship of Arch. Roselle B. Santos for your time, effort and determined support to our 2020 NAW celebration.

Yes, today is a very different time. We are in the new normal — a time where conferences have turned virtual and where everything that we do seemed to be done in front of our computers, right at the comfort of our home, workplace or place where we feel more secure.

Despite this, I cannot help but notice how our energy and zeal are unchanged and unfailing. Even though we are all working from home and we haven’t seen each other for several months now, the enthusiasm is still the same as in the past years.

This truly proves that as an organization, we architects never fail to commemorate this weeklong celebration as ONE — as a united organization that puts high-value in our profession—however the circumstances may be.

As we celebrate this year’s National Architecture Week, with the theme: THE N(e)AW NORMAL: SHIFTING NORMS IN THE PRACTICE OF ARCHITECTURE,” let this be a reminder that we shall continue to thrive as professionals in the industry and welcome changes, and always see it as an opportunity to grow is what this year’s NAW theme conveys.

As professionals in our field, we have always maintained a high level of open-mindedness. This comes in handy as the world suddenly witnessed a standstill and we are all obliged to get confined in the walls of our houses.

We are fortunate that we are part of the industry that can easily adapt to the demands of technology. We have always been trained to be open in everything the technology introduces to us and we are no longer unfamiliar with this territory. Our creativity, dedication, and passion in the things that we do just keep on flowing, and no pandemic can end it.

The UAP takes pride in the fact that we welcome the new normal and adjusted to the new way of working together, in line with our mission and vision to serve the general membership and the profession we have always been putting so much value on.

At the onset of the pandemic, we immediately laid out a series of plans and projects and pursue training and development in our practice. We did not let the long lockdowns to keep us from exchanging valuable conversation about how we, as professionals in the build and design industry, can contribute to society.

Many of our chapter members have jumped into action to lead in developing quarantine areas, medical facilities, and other establishments that shift to the new normal and that adhere to strict health protocols being implemented.

We also take pride that as a united organization, we worked as one in helping our colleagues who have been affected by the pandemic and the recent catastrophes that hit our land. In our Member First Policy, one of the core themes of this administration, we see to it that no one is left behind in these trying times. We give full support to our members, not only in financial aid but to in their professional development as well, making them fully-equipped and ready to take their practices to the next level.

We all witnessed how every one of us has worked hand in hand in reaching out not only to our members in various regions but to our kababayans as well who require help. Our chapters and members, through their collective efforts, have partnered with various entities to extend their professional help.

We also did not forget our medical frontliners in various cities and municipalities and extended our help and support as they all brave an invisible opponent in our midst. Indeed, we acknowledge how the new normal affects all industries, and we, as architects, understand how helping one another is a whole of society approach.

We are beyond blessed by the Father Almighty for giving us various opportunities to learn and grow not only as individuals but as a whole organization. Let this be a reminder, my dear colleagues that architecture plays a vital role in rebuilding our nation and the world that we live in. We have to take on the challenge.

As I end this message, I would like to remind everyone that as we all adapt to the new norms in our architecture practice, let us have a mindset of a victor. Let us not just think of how to survive and cope with this pandemic. Let us think of how we can improve the status quo, bring innovative changes, and withstand and win over another one if there will be — all for a better place we and the future generations will all live in.

In the words of English writer Max McKeown, “Adaptability is about the powerful difference between adapting to cope and adapting to win.”

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Maraming Salamat po at Mabuhay at Arkitektong Filipino!

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