By Vincent Mariel P. Galang
WHEN planning to build a house, some people think they only need to hire a civil engineer or a contractor, but not an architect. For some, hiring an architect is seen as expensive, unnecessary or prolonging the construction process.
The United Architects of the Philippines (UAP) is hoping to change the seemingly widespread perception that architects are not important when building a house or any structure at all.
UAP President Benjamin K. Panganiban, Jr. emphasized the importance of a architect, noting the professional can combine beauty, functionality, and stability in a structure.
“Just imagine… if you do not get an architect, who has the educational background already of doing all these vertical structures and all of these vertical buildings. Instead, you are just getting an amateur trying out his experimentation on a hospital, and that is something you cannot afford, the client cannot afford,” Mr. Panganiban told BusinessWorld in a recent interview.
Architects are taught and trained on the art and science of a structure. At school, architecture students learn about different international building codes, local laws, relationship of buildings to environment, among others.
After graduation, they will still undergo a two-year apprenticeship under an architectural firm before taking the licensure exam.
All this ensures that an architect will have the knowledge and experience to plan and design a house and other vertical structures.
“You can get somebody who may know how to build a house, but is he properly oriented? That is not their learning that is the learning of the architect. In a residence, maybe that amateur or the allied professional will put the building facing the sun where every day you sleep, you feel very hot, while the architect does a relationship of a bedroom in relation to the orientation, so that is something not taught to other allied professionals,” Mr. Panganiban said.
“Anthropometry, the sizing of the structures in relation to the person living in that residence. All of these are taught well in advance to the architect, so that when a client enters a certain room or his residence he will not find it out of proportion,” he added.
Formed in 1975 as the integration of three architecture organizations — League of Philippine Architects (LPA), Association of Philippine Government Architects (APGA), and Philippine Institute of Architects (PIA), the UAP now has 44,800 member architects around the country.
This year, the UAP is intensifying efforts to educate the public on the role of architects through their advocacy — “For your plans and designs, get an architect.”
“In this advocacy, we want to reach out to everyone… that we are the specialist in this field of work,” Mr. Panganiban said
Architects also have to battle the perception that only the “rich” can afford their services.
Mr. Panganiban said that an architect can adjust the project based on the client’s needs and budget.
He noted for instance, an architect will not build a five-storey chapel made of concrete and steel for a fishing community.
“The architect comes into the picture not for the… money involved, but for the proper functional flow of a certain area. He will relate all the activities of the certain fisher folk community in relation to the chapel… He will not go beyond the limitations also of the client,” the UAP president said.
Because of these misconceptions about architects, Mr. Panganiban noted some have resorted to looking for ready-made house plans available on the Internet.
But Mr. Panganiban noted it is still better to consult an architect because he will know if the structure a client wants is feasible.
He said the plans available on the Internet should only serve as a reference, and architects will still have adapt these plans according to local conditions.
“Modern technology today has provided for plans to be in the internet… It is a difficult part on the architects because apparently the clients can have the opportunity and at their fingertips, plans offered in the internet. Then again, these plans whether it looks beautiful or not, may not fit into the lot of the client. These plans presented in the internet may not be at tuned to the climatic conditions in the Philippines,” Mr. Panganiban said.
“Plans on the internet, the client feels it looks cheap but actually in the construction it may not come out cheap, and lastly, plans on the internet may be beautiful to look at, but in reality as it is built, it may not come out to be at the liking of the client. So, this is where the architect comes in, and it cannot be removed from the architect this ability, creativity. Architecture is an art and a science,” he added.
The UAP has recently launched the second phase of its advocacy to educate the public on different specializations of architects. These include conceptual designs, liturgical architecture, heritage conservation, housing and human settlements, design and build services, material specifications on buildings, commercial and mixed-used buildings, and urban and community design.
For anyone planning to build any structure, Mr. Panganiban offers this piece of advice: “To plan, you design well… To spend your resources better, get an architect.”