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As a child, I was always fond of the idea of flying. I was about a year old when I had my first flying experience. Of course I wasn’t completely aware of what was happening back then. But over the years, I constantly flew from country to country visiting my relatives. We lived in Thailand, and I studied at the International School of Bangkok for 6 years. It was amazing on how I had somewhat adapted to the Thai culture at a very young age. I loved the food, the beaches, parks, my school, football, the temples it was an awesome experience for me. But what I had always looked forward to was the annual fieldtrip to this cool airplane museum. I always bragged about it to my cousins back in the Philippines when I would visit. I had a drink a couple of months ago with the same cousins, and they told me how sick they were from hearing the same story over and over again. I was like a broken record according to them. But those are the silly things you just laugh about now. I only purchased or was obsessed with three toys when I was a kid, Lego’s – of course, this would explain the architect in me but that’s a different story; Micro Machines – specifically the Air Planes, and GI Joes – because yes, I’m old fashioned but that doesn’t mean I’m old or defensive! See, I loved collecting and modeling airplanes. I was such a geek – but hey I was 7, sue me.
Let’s skip a few years. I was about 5th grade when I attempted to write comics. Yes, I am a very random yet talented person. All my closest friends always watched and listened to me narrating my works of art. Ok, to be honest only one person did – is it a crime to pretend I had a social life? One of my best friends until today, and for the sake of privacy which we don’t really practice in this class, I shall name him Bob. So through the years, Bob and I became brothers from other mothers, if you know what I mean. Yes, his significance to this story will soon be unraveled.
Moving on, I was around 16 years old when I started to think about my future. I was in high school and man was I ambitious. I wanted to be an architect during the weekdays and fly my own plane along my private beach strip on the weekends. Yes, I was living the life in my sleep. Naturally like every high school student, I had to engage in talks with almost everybody on what course I was to take up. Then the interviews came and I was feeling like a local celebrity. I only had 3 things in mind during that time, yes to become an architect, to become an engineer and make robots and spaceships – true story, and to become a pilot. So I took the entrance exams in UP, Ateneo, and La Salle with courses in Architecture, Electronics. I failed architecture, it was sad very sad but to create my own robot and eventually fly a plane, why not? That was the most stupid idea, ever. Anyway, so I eventually ended up in La Salle and it was not the best time of my life. So after one whole year in La Salle engineering I was sick of all subjects. I kept asking my self “When do we get to make robots?” or “When do I get to study something at least remotely close to aviation electronics?” And no, we never did. So after my first year I decided on my own, to try my luck in applying to UST architecture since after all it had always been my dream and I was very hopeful. And to add to the eleventy-billion NO’s I was receiving in that stage of my life UST gave me the biggest one. Still I was persistent enough to apply every year. I was already considering finishing engineering in fact I really didn’t mind the subjects which had nothing to do with practicality but theory. Until, across the filthiest avenue in manila there was a voice. Yes sir, DLS-CSB was opened a new program architecture. But at this point I really wasn’t sure whether I’d attempt to transfer or not. Summer was closing in and I had to decide. So in my “Great Works” class, I was asked to submit a late paper – one of the very few late papers, mind you. It was on the 17 floor of the Brother Andrew Gonzales building. I was with Bob, and we were on our way up. Like the usual male species of our kind, confrontations arise on the physically capabilities and capacities that one is blessed with. We did Muay Thai together and we couldn’t wait to spar. So when we got to the pigeon hole – P-hole lol. We passed our papers and we were on our way to train. Take note, at this point I was still unsure on whether or not I should transfer and pursue architecture. Anyway, as we entered the elevator, there was this girl. Very quiet, she was. When the elevator closed, that’s where it began.
Bob and I were arguing about how strong I was. I wouldn’t give in so like the very rational and intellectual individual I was, I just had to try and open the elevator doors. I just had to. I knew I wouldn’t be able to, because I tried it before. But for some strange reason, I opened the door. I could see the concrete right at my face, It was open for around the length of one whole floor. I was like “Holy… check this out man!” And to our surprise, the elevator doors snapped and we dropped all the way to the 11th floor. In that short amount of time, Bob along with myself and the random girl saw our lives flash before our eyes. We didn’t say a word until the elevator pulled us back up to the 17th floor, violently swaying from side to side. In was indescribable. It changed me. As the elevator doors opened to the 17th floor, Bob screamed at me, curses in every language! All I could say was, I’m sorry man. Then we ran out and took the stairs down, it was the longest walk down the stairs. Not because of the experience but because of us ending up back at the 17th. Anyway that experience produced a string of epiphanies that would later mold me to the man I am today. I am afraid of heights now. I don’t trust electronic or mechanical equipment now. And it definitely gave me the big push to simply live life and pursue my dreams which from that experience excluded the airplane part.
Architecture has been constantly defined and governed by concepts and philosophies. These beliefs and ideas are the products of influence, experience, and inspiration. The scopes of these intellectual studies are as extensive as the human mind. This never ending cycle of learning only aids the emergence of new concepts and philosophies as well as creating new processes behind its formulation. These processes with regards to architecture vary in style and arrangement. Diversity is reflected in its outcome.
Deconstruction is one of the many processes that have graced the world of conceptual architecture. Once a way of criticizing literary and philosophical texts have now been integrated into architectural conceptualization and formalization. The French philosopher, Jacques Derrida was the founder of “Deconstruction.” He believed that architecture is a kind of language for communication using the linguistic philosophy. His method of deconstruction has been the platform for many of the celebrated architects today.
The manifesto, a powerful tool of expression and declaration in literary form is the perfect ticket to an architect’s mind – if he ever so writes one. The “New Modern Theories” is a compilation of manifestoes of architects who practice the method of deconstruction. It is an offset from the technical side of this evolving art.
In the manifestoes of Eisenmen, Kipnis, and Wigley, the architect is challenged to move away from history, theory, and accepted constructs. He is told not to limit or restrain himself to the ideas, norms, and rules of what is considered universally aesthetic.
Eisenmen describes such a move by proposing that architecture must be realized as an independent discourse free from both the influences of the past and present as well as any external values. Architecture must be a completely separate other, a timeless space in the present, signifying nothing but what it is with no determining relation to the past or future. Thus, architecture’s starting point must not come from the natural order or from deductive reason. Rather, it must be strictly arbitrary—it is chosen not because of a universal value but because of an individual preference in a certain point in time. In effect, architecture must only be a representation of itself, of its own values, and its own internal experience. (Eisenman, The End of the Classical: the End of the End, the End of the Beginning)
He makes a further point by discussing the need to create a new architectural vision because of the shift from the mechanical paradigm to the electronic one. A new vision is needed because this shift redefines reality in terms of media and stimulation—that is, it values appearance over existence, what can be seen over what is, which is radically different from the Renaissance or Classical vision. As such, Eisenmen proposes a view that, rather than looking at the subject and understanding it in relation to a particular space, should allow looking back—detaching the subject from the rationalization of space and the traditional constructs. This can be done by first, detaching what one sees from what one knows, and second, by inscribing the space in such a way that it is capable of looking back at the subject. He illustrates this by discussing folding. Folding, he says, changes the traditional space of vision because the subject realizes that it can no longer conceptualize experience in space in the same way that it did in gridded space. Therefore, changing the vision constitutes detaching reason from vision. (Eisenman, Visions’ Unfolding: Architecture in the Age of Electronic Media)
Kipnis describes such a move by enumerating two ways on how to transcend what he calls the traditional rational design theory. According to him, architecture is not and has never been theory or history at all. Rather, it is the morality of the design process, a gaining of permission for some forms, surfaces, materials, and a prohibition against others. As a result, the design process is a negotiation between the architectural ego and design rationales. In order to transcend this, the moment of design must have no authority, no imperatives, no priorities or precedents, no cultural and aesthetic responsibilities that can restrain all the possibilities of material form. This can be achieved by either the absurd or the surb. The absurd processes accept that while the rational design theory has questionable authority, it is still maintained if the criterion for its evaluation is displaced from traditional architectural decision-making. On the other hand, the surb processes, not unlike Eisenmen, focus on silencing rationality as much as possible so as to allow the entire self to govern the design. (Kipnis, Forms of Irrationality)
For Wigley, this move is not so much the demolition or dissimulation of accepted rules and values but rather, a different way of looking at existing traditions and structures. He proposes looking behind the perfections for the hidden dilemmas and conflictions, thus radically disturbing conventional architectural conditions. Thus, deconstructivism for Wigley means challenging stable, coherent identities and exposing its hidden flaws and imperfections. Therefore, unlike Eisenmen and Kipnis who propose to overthrow tradition, Wigley does not want to forget tradition altogether. Instead, he proposes to go to the center of what is already universally and traditionally accepted and disturb it and challenge it, rather than overthrow it or demolish it. (Wigley, Deconstructivist Architecture.)
These three architects believe in radically challenging ideas and questioning norms and standards. While their theories may differ in definition, form and function, they all essentially say the same thing: that just because set rules and constructs exist in architecture does not mean that architects should be limited by them. More often then not, they are merely guides that allow architects to break boundaries and innovate ideas. Thus, an architect must view the world with a philosophy that questions, challenges, and is not afraid to take risks.
For Coop Himmelblau, deconstructivism is far from a movement. It is more a syndrome of concerns and constructional tactics pursued by various architects in parallel. In his manifesto, he proposes that the expressions ‘safe and sound’ are no longer applicable to architecture. The architecture of present reinforces this discrepancy until, it becomes schizophrenic. He views reactionary architecture as a tool to obscure problems rather than a tool to propose solutions to create a new urban awareness. He writes about the honesty of contemporary architecture and how it reflects the image of urban reality. In this process, pockets of the city will now be landmarks of desolation. He speaks of change that shall arise from the development of self-confidence and courage. This will be the result of a certain degree of urban decay and the only remaining solution is to hold possession of the city and alter it. (Coop Himmelblau, The Future of Splendid Desolation)
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I believe that architecture is and will always be a manifestation of one’s ideas translated into an aesthetically pleasing and practical solution to the necessities of man. I believe that man is obsessed with beauty in his own context and that man will constantly rise to the occasion when it deals with his very own survival. I believe architecture as a product of these philosophies would be no less human than we are. Architecture from my perspective, suggests that the reason for its existence would be our ability of creation. This process of creating things, as we have all been accustomed with, will always be the derivative of an inspiration, experience or influence. Therefore, architecture will always be the product of our thinking process. It is what we want and need it to be.
Through the course of history architecture has made a mark that is not so easily erased. Today, we are still able to bask in magnificence of sublime ancient architecture that we know so little about. We are only left with intelligent assumptions based on precarious evidences. We no longer have the privilege of understanding its deeper meaning through the eyes of its designer. But what we have now, is a new breed of architects whose designs are well documented both technically and aesthetically. We are entitled to learning about the concepts that molded the structures we experience today.
The process of conceptualization was somewhat new to me when I ventured into the world of art. It was a wild experience and I honestly did not know what to expect. But the deeper I got into the study, the more I became appreciative of the social sciences that reflect our lives. The concepts used in art are so broad that it may take years to study with the possibility of never getting to the bottom of it.
On the fourth session of our second Theory of Design class, we were given three groups of images and we were asked to somewhat categorize them. The first set of images comprised of the Burj Al Arab, the Eiffel tower, the Empire State Building, the Sydney Opera house and other recognizable structures that share the same status of greatness and serve as icons to their respective cities. The second set of images showcased impeccable technological principles integrated into its designs. This set is comprised of the Pompidou Centre, HSBC Hong Kong Headquarters, Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in London, and other technologically sound structures. The last set of images would instantaneously give you the feel of the whole context of the structure as a major design consideration. This set includes the Cultural Center of the Philippines Complex, The New York City Grid, Tjibaou Cultural Center, and the Office Block in Westminster.
Basically, the short activity we had in critiquing those sets of images would definitely be good start to being more observant, creative and aware as designers, as far as conceptualization is concerned.
“Communication is the key,” would be the general philosophy governing my life. I believe without communication we would not exist today. There are countless forms of communication in our world and as human beings we just keep creating, modifying and practicing these forms to our liking. The application of my said general philosophy to my design philosophy was very simple. I just thought of instances wherein architecture did not involve communication, there were none.
The power of communication has been constantly transforming our lives. Our freedom of expression gives us the chance to showcase our creativity. The uniqueness of every individual’s characteristics is simply astonishing. I believe that architecture is a medium of communication used to create an expression of one’s character through edifice. It can be interpreted as the most innocent character to the more complex of personalities. Architecture is a gateway to the past wherein the process of interaction would require you to personally experience this evolving art. I believe that time is an essential factor to all mankind. With regards to architecture, we design the present and the future, as past architects have designed the past. This connection in time suggests that architecture is indeed a form of communication. In some instances, it may speak louder than words.
The French philosopher, Jacques Derrida was the founder of “Deconstruction.” Jacques Derrida believed that architecture is a kind of language for communication using the linguistic philosophy. The Linguistic Philosophy is an actual study of linguistic practices in many subjects; aesthetics would be one of them. As a practitioner of his method of deconstruction, this will serve to reinforce my design philosophy as we both believe that architecture is a kind of language, thus a medium of communication.
The late Eero Saarinen was a Finnish American Architect who was known for the variations in his style based on the demands of his projects. He said “Always design a thing by considering it in its next larger context - a chair in a room, a room in a house, a house in an environment, an environment in a city plan”. As Eero Saarinen created his designs based on the restrictions and the demands of his projects, the client communicating their wants and needs to him is already a form of communication. Another would be based on a quote, Eero Saarinen designs in context, through this design method he is creating a collaboration of architectural elements that communicate with each other. Through his discipline in designing based on demands, he constantly expressed his character through versatility. Though he was criticized for not having an identifiable style, it was because of his devotion and adaptation to each client and their demands, which once again is a perfect example of how communication should be used.
My last case study would come from an article written by Architect Joseph Javier. He wrote that “Language is a living instrument that unites a people and develops a culture. Architecture as an evolving art is an inaudible language yet at times is so deafening you cannot ignore it.” In relation to my own design philosophy we share the same vision, as we see architecture as a language. He also stated how this language as an instrument can influence the environment, specifically the people and culture. I believe that having the knowledge of how to view and use architecture is a very important aspect in our profession. I believe that this is reinforcement to my own design philosophy.
Having established truth and solidity in my design philosophy, I will now move on to my vision and application. I will begin with establishing a connection with the client. I want to create my designs as a collaborative expression of our character. I will establish harmony in my design, I want each element to communicate and work with one another the same way I want my designs to communicate with its environment. I want my designs to display a sense of cultural value. I believe that cultural awareness is one thing we need to develop as architects. I want to see architecture evolve in the Philippines. I have a dream; to experience each province displaying their own respective architectural expressions based on their culture, but will have a common denominator wherein we as one nation will communicate through our Filipino- tropical designs on an international level. Having such a dynamic design philosophy, I am very excited as I have so much to work with. Inspired by the architects who somewhat have the same ideals and beliefs, I am compelled to achieve and to learn more as I mature in this world of thinkers and designers.
Philippine National Railways, Buendia Station Proposal
Designer: Carlo Estado
General Philosophy: “Communication is the key.”
Design Philosophy: “Architecture is a medium of communication used to create an expression of one’s character through edifice.”
Design Process: Iconic
Design Concept: Traditional Chopsticks
Balance and Arrangement (Inspired by music)
The Philippine National Railways experience was an exceptional one. I was able to practice and apply my philosophies on architecture and communication.
My design philosophy requires interaction between myself and the client. During my PNR experience in Buendia, I interviewed a couple of regulars along with the ticket seller and security officer. I learned a lot about their experiences with the PNR waiting shed. There were many problems with regards to space, seating, noise, and adjustment to the climate.
Our objective was only to find the form, but since I could not apply my philosophies without interaction I had to consider function as well.
In my design, it is very evident that I used supports shaped like chopsticks. What could be the reason behind this? Traditional Chopsticks are very simple and durable, but combined, it can form very complex yet balanced forms. Steel support compared to cement would use much less space, it will also be more flexible. I angled my “Chopsticks” to maximize the space of the shed, so that people can move freely without having to bump into each other.
I also introduced the use of glass and wood in my design. I also incorporated the use of brise soleil or sunshade. The reason would be to create a more efficient source of lighting at the same time block out the heat from the sun. If you would notice, my design is very open, allowing the breeze to flow through the station continuously. Another reason would be the minimization of noise bouncing into the station.
The roof is shaped like a trapezoid and is angled giving the waiting shed a more abstract feel with a nice sense of space.
The stairs are a semi-circular form, I thought that this would give the design more balance like the music that inspired it.
Now, moving on to the architect whom I least admire. Frank Gehry, a big name in the building and design industry has made quite an impact. He was responsible for the Concert Hall, the Guggenheim museum and many others. Frank Gehry has also won numerous awards such as the Pritzker Prize and the AIA Gold medal which is very impressive.
Why I am not impressed? In spite of his achievements in the field of architecture, it bothers me that his designs are not as eco-friendly, because of his lack of adjustments to the climate. Another reason would be the use of unnecessary elements which only contributes to form and not function. I also believe that the only reasons he can get away with such seductive forms are due to the scales of his projects. I see him, as more of a lucky artist than a skilled architect. One more reason would be because of his building’s ignorance to its surroundings, very anti-contextual. It seems to me that he does whatever he likes, and seldom makes adjustments. Among all the “Starchitects” it is Frank Gehry whom I least admire.
After a series of lectures on notable architects, I was somewhat lost. This activity was very significant to me. This was a big step wherein I, an architecture student, would have the privilege to experience such admirable professionals showcase their masterpieces before me. This activity opened my eyes to the different styles and disciplines of architecture.
Among all the famous architects mentioned the said activity, the one that had the most impact with regards to my interests was no other than Santiago Calatrava. As I glanced upon his works, I was – at an instant – captivated by the detail and grandeur. His use of material and how he maximizes its potentials simply amaze me. It makes me feel like a Prehistoric man stepping in the busy, complex, and active world of New York City. His designs are just out of this world. Such a unique style deserves all my admiration.
Another reason why I appreciate Santiago Calatrava is because he is also a structural engineer as well as a sculptor. I can see how he creates and combines his knowledge in these fields along with his architecture producing such unique marvels. I am an admirer of his technical skills, due to my personal experiences in the field of engineering. I can only wish that I would be able to achieve what Santiago Calatrava has at only the age 59. As a student of this art I am compelled by his achievements, to do my very best in contributing to the world of architecture.
“There was a wish to get something exceptional. I also wanted to deliver something technically unique.” -Santiago Calatrava
I can never say that I hate architecture. I just really dislike how the corrupt and irresponsible people manipulate everything. If there’s one thing I hate it would be the politics around architecture. Followed by the greed that we have to control and live with. These are just a few negative traits that lie along the plane of this pure art.
The wrong use of architecture has put many lives in jeopardy with history as its witness. From the slavery of ancient architecture unto the construction industry of the present which has constantly been killing our environment.
This has got to stop. Now!
As I learn and gradually enter the new generation of architects, I am determined to study and design eco-friendly houses and buildings aiming to inspire and motivate my colleagues to do the same. We only have one home to us all, and that home can never be replaced no matter how great the architect.
We all know that when the word “architecture” or “architect” is given, it would somewhat give an impression that the subject would be about the design process, blue prints, building, construction and the like. But what I have, in this manifesto, is a presentation of my deeper understanding. This manifesto contains my philosophies, and what the art of architecture is for Carlo Luis Gan Estado.
Architecture is a medium of communication used to create an expression of one’s character through edifice. It can be interpreted as the most innocent character to the more complex of personalities. Architecture is a gateway to the past wherein the process of interaction would require you to personally experience this evolving art. I believe that time is an essential factor to all mankind. With regards to architecture, we design the present and the future, as past architects have designed the past. This connection in time suggests that architecture is indeed a form of communication. In some instances, it may speak louder than words.
In the past, I have always felt a sudden rush of unexplainable emotions every time I witness architectural masterpieces of grandeur, detail and expression. When trapped in this state of disbelief and admiration, the only way to get out is to trust that there will always be another that would connote the same feeling. It is, as if the architect is telling you a story that never ends and will never be as concrete as the pillars that support it. I believe that architecture is a service. To work on such a form of art that gives such an abstract yet human expression would be a privilege and an honor that not everyone can enjoy.
Having experienced such amazing walks in the different periods of architecture, I too, have decided to take part in this never ending building, protection, documentation and preservation of our humanity. Architecture is my drive. Architecture is my passion. Architecture is life.