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Home Columns Op-Ed Page Capturing the Filipino Soul in Our Buildings
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Columns - Op-Ed Page
Sunday, 16 September 2007 03:39

I would suggest that as a nation, we should go for the wider definition: the design of the total built environment from the macro-level of town planning, urban design and landscape architecture to the micro-level of construction and details and furniture.

 

We Need Architects to Capture the Filipino Soul in Our Buildings

 

[Remarks of Senator Nene Pimentel at the Fifth Anniversary celebration of the Architecture Advocacy International Foundation Inc., in Makati City, on September 15, 2007]

I wish to congratulate the Architecture Advocacy International Foundation Inc., on the occasion of its 5th Anniversary today.

Architect Greg Timbol II and the other members of the Board of Trustees of the AAIF deserve our applause for getting the foundation organized and for getting it to pursue the lofty ideals of the profession of architecture in this country.

A quick search for the meaning of architecture in Wikipedia reveals the following: "Architecture, or building architecture, is the art and science of designing buildings and structures. A wider definition often includes the design of the total built environment: from the macrolevel of town planning, urban design, and architecture to the microlevel of construction details and furniture.

Wider definition

I would suggest that as a nation, we should go for the wider definition: the design of the total built environment from the macro-level of town planning, urban design and landscape architecture to the micro-level of construction and details and furniture.

In my view, it is time that we encourage our architects to design buildings and structures from its macro-level perspective as in town planning to the micro-level objective of construction details.

I would like to see the Filipino spirit captured in the structures of steel and wood that our architects could conceive of in doing urban planning or landscape architecture and even in furniture making.

Implement RA 9266

The fastest way to do this is to insist that Republic Act No. 9266, The Architecture Act of 2004 be implemented now.

I realize that there are man-made obstacles to the full implementation of the law mainly coming from some engineers who want to hog the construction works especially in local government territories even if the law says that plans for the works must bear the approval of architects.

In all honesty I fail to see the validity of the position of those who oppose the implementation of the law. The only argument that they can allege is that as engineers for a long time they have been the planners and the implementers of government projects.

But that was before Republic Act No. 9266 was passed into law.

Ruskin's view

Now that the law is there, it must be implemented. Otherwise, it won't change the building environment of the nation. We will keep on putting up structures helter-skelter without any serious attempt at beautifying what we build. But constructing buildings and beautifying what we build are two different things. Any carpenter can construct a building but only an architect can beautify what he builds. As John Ruskin, the social and art critic, said in 1848, "Architecture is exalting discipline. It dignifies and ennobles public life. It preserves the beauty of the material it uses and serves a source of power and renewal for the society that produces it."

It is, thus, the architects in my opinion who can put the soul of the nation into the buildings that we build today. Unfortunately, by and large, we do not see the distinctiveness of good architecture that Ruskin speaks of in his work, the "Seven Lamps" in the buildings that dot the landscapes of the country today. Missing in those edifices are the basic characteristics of architecture that Ruskin says flow from the virtues of Sacrifice, Truth, Power, Beauty, Life, Memory and Obedience. These fundamental qualities bring about the best in architectural achievements and necessarily differentiate architectural works of art from the products of the mere act of constructing a building or building a construction.

But to go back to our thesis, it is precisely because the constructions that we see today do not reflect the Seven Lamps that Ruskin speaks of that I want the law, Republic Act No. 9266, followed now.

Legal action needed

I have tried to be restrained in my statements regarding the problem of implementing the law and to counsel patience and negotiations between the engineers and the architects. It looks like such an advice is not moving the law at all.

I therefore suggest either of two things:

1. To sue before the Sandigan Bayan the persons responsible for blocking the implementation of the law and the local government officials who are abetting them for anti-graft and corrupt practices, or

2. To compel whoever is responsible for blocking the implementation of the law by filing a proper case with the Regional Trial Court or possibly with the Supreme Court, itself.

Naturally, you must get your legal team involved in this effort.

One more time

Lastly, I wish that even as I am sure you are already at the end of your patience and are probably preparing to take the legal route, you should try one more time to get the officials who can settle the matter extrajudicially to mediate the problem.

It is always best to go the route of peaceful negotiations when you can avoid having to go to court to vindicate your rights.

Congratulations again to the AAIF, your board of trustees and members. # # #



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Last Updated on Sunday, 16 September 2007 03:43
 

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