Architecture best exemplifies the statement, “more than just face value.” Architects design buildings that are not only beautiful but also functional, efficient and relevant. Even with the pandemic, the graduating architecture students from the University of San Carlos (USC) capped their five-year (or more) academic training, by doing their best in applying everything that they’ve learned on a culminating design project. They were determined to come up with their best design proposals after tedious research, data syntheses and conceptualization, and presented their undergraduate theses in Zoom sessions.
This semester’s two bronze awardees (based on the ratings they got from their thesis panel) for the Bachelor of Science in Architecture program theses of USC shows that architecture addresses more than just the need for eye-catching buildings but also the compelling issues in many communities.
Telling Personal Stories
The thesis proposal entitled “The Walls of Silence: A Proposed Survivors’ Museum on Rape,” by Allen Celestino and Fairyssa Canama holds a lot of personal connection to them. After having second thoughts about the topic when it was given the “green light” by their thesis coordinators after proposal hearing, they thought that the topic may have actually chosen them.
Their past experiences helped them pursue the sensitive topic—which is also a relevant social issue that silently affects many—and come up with an architectural proposal to direct the social consciousness into it.
“A lot were factored into our design investigation, from the form, planning, and most especially the interiors. The form was a challenging part for us because both of us are very adventurous in our designs and we had to tame and humble ourselves for us to empathize with the users and our topic as well,” said Canama.
“While doing our design investigation, we made it clear that all our design decisions will have a purpose behind them: why our material was like this, why our facade was too massive or why our interiors were designed this way,” said Celestino.
With the expected load of emotions added to the in-depth research and the usual sleepless nights spent conceptualizing and designing, Canama and Celestino both learned not to get too carried away by the negative experiences that they have had and to fully trust to each other instead in coming up with their intended design output.
The potential for the development of a historical district in Lapu-Lapu City was the driving element for would-be architecture graduates Lorenzo Pestaño and Francis Pio Parado. Their thesis entitled “Redefining Poblacion: A Proposed Redevelopment of Lapu Lapu City’s Center as a Historical District” started off as merely focusing on the Muelle Osmeña ferry terminal.
“As our thesis developed, we considered expanding our scope, by not just redeveloping the terminal, but also the vicinity within Barangay Poblacion. As we explored this option, we found out that there were actually numerous under-appreciated histories that are locked within the barangay,” shared Pestaño.
Their proposal covered other areas of the district where there are historically relevant structures, and with some “urban design” intervention, they were able to come up with spaces and trails that highlighted these landmarks and improved the existing structures there such as the public market and barangay hall as well as the waterfront facing the Mactan Channel.
Asked about something valuable that they’ve learned doing the thesis, Pestaño said it was about gaining confidence.
“If we caved in to the thought of settling with our prior study scope, then we wouldn’t get to appreciate how beautiful and how much potential Barangay Poblacion had to offer.”
The duo is truly proud of their output, which they thought would enhance Lapu-Lapu’s tag as a “Historical Resort City.”
The two teams share challenges such as momentary loss of “creative juices” and getting “virtually” in touch during the pandemic, but looking at what they have produced, it gives a clear idea on how architects are not just rigidly trained but how they are supposed to solve relevant social issues through their creative craft, from research to design.