People need architects

October 20, 2019 | By: Arch. Benjamin K. Panganiban, Jr. (as published in the BusinessWorld last September 10, 2019)

PEOPLE are often ask the question “Paano kaya ang mundo kung walang tubig, walang pagkain o kaya walang mga tao? (What would be the world like without water, food or people?).” Well, the answer to that is it is just like living in the moon.

But have you ever come across people who have asked the question “Paano na lang kaya ang mundo kung walang mga arkitekto? (What is life without architects?).”

The answer there is easy. It is like living in a place, a society, a city or a community of identical box shapes and houses resembling those in the nursery rhyme The Three Little Pigs where just one puff from the Big Bad Wolf will bring the house down.

To answer the question: “What is life without architects?” IT IS LIFE WITHOUT FORMS.

I believe most people have never met an architect, or if they have, they have always thought of them as engineers. Maybe they have never engaged the services of an architect in planning and design of vertical structures.

It is up to us to communicate what architects do and educate society on the value of architects, their functions, and their role in nation building. This is what this leadership and the United Architects of the Philippines have been doing as part of our advocacy campaign: “FOR YOUR PLANS AND DESIGNS, GET AN ARCHITECT.”

In most official gatherings I have attended, guest speakers who are not architects would generally say “architects draw beautifully period.” We all know that. But is that all architects do?

Architects do more than just draw beautifully! In fact, they are good managers, planners and good visionaries. Architects do plans, designs, and project management. We design and build vertical structures. We also do construction management, heritage conservation, urban and rural designs, liturgical architecture, regenerative architecture and adaptive re-use.

Not only that, architects excel in evidence-based research, low cost housing and resettlement projects, structural design conceptualization, tourism architecture, hospital planning and mixed-use projects.

Academically, the architect has to go through a rigorous process of education. As a student, he undergoes ten semesters of studies, taking into consideration the surrounding environment, including the principles of stability, functionality and aesthetics. After this, he undertakes an apprenticeship program under a licensed and registered architect for a minimum of two years, and then take the state-regulated professional exams.

By the time he takes the oath as a professional, the architect has mastered the trade. No other technical profession comes close to the hectic and specialized architectural profession. That is why the architect is the prime professional in the design and building of vertical structures and of shelters for man.

I have encountered a lot of malpractice by non-architects in design and construction. Even more surprisingly, I have met people who have been doing it themselves and later realizing while in the construction phase that they should have hired an architect.

Design and construction demand a multitude of knowledge in the design of a structure, acquisition of construction materials, building the structure, ensuring its safety, and understanding the legal implications.

Architecture is a half-decade long education and it is not a walk in the park. As a teacher before, I have seen architecture students work in libraries and classrooms all night long to finish their projects. My point here is that new architects have spent thousands of hours to perfect their craft. They definitely know what they are doing.

The mother of all arts is architecture. Society will be defined by its forms. Architects will always do a variety of forms and define its value and the value of civilization. That is why architecture is a millennia-old profession from the pyramids of Giza in Egypt to the hanging gardens of Babylon and the rising ziggurats in Tigris and Euphrates. Architecture has been able to sustain its identity and is well respected around the world.

I have been designed by our creator, and I have been able to sustain my practice through the years. Sustainability is a word which brings to mind cost-efficient designs, proper supervision and effective construction management

Architects have to be relevant, sustainable, sensitive to their community and grounded. They always find something to improve, and are innovative and progressive. They anticipate the needs of the community.

In this fast-paced world, sustainability is a wake-up call to innovate or die. The world is so small that architects have to innovate and improve the quality and way of life.

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