Architecture festival tackles role of craftsmanship in the built environment

Building with what you have

Over 150 thought leaders in architecture and urbanism gathered last week to explore how design professionals, and ordinary people alike, could reshape and enhance the built environment.

Architecture festival tackles role of craftsmanship in the built environment
Aesthetic vision. Panelists of the “Shelter Dialogues” included (from left to right): Juan Carlo Calma, Carlo Calma Consultancy; Dominic Galicia, Dominic Galicia Architects; Chat Chuenrudeemol, CHAT Architects; William Ti Jr., WTA Architecture and Design Studio; Manny Minana, Emmanuel A. Miñana, and Associates
Held at Fort Santiago in Intramuros, the Anthology Architecture and Design Festival tackled various aspects of architecture, among them a series of dialectic panels entitled “Shelter Dialogues” moderated by architecture critics. 

One of the panels, “The Craftsmanship of Architecture,” highlighted that while architecture is an art, the aesthetic vision must be practical, usable, and purposeful for the craft to be fully appreciated.

Human touch

“Craftsmanship comes with the act of building itself, it’s the human touch,” said architect William Ti, Jr., Anthology’s Festival director who also heads WTA Architecture + Design Studio.

The human touch, according to Ti, allows spaces to be designed for social and functional purposes. He spoke from experience, having overseen various projects from retail shops, large scale malls, hotels, and massive land development that are influencing how people build communities and way of living.

Thailand-based architect Chatpong “Chat” Chuenrudeemol, who heads CHAT Architects, shared his firm’s take on craftsmanship as designing and building according to the “limited things you have” as exemplified by what he calls Bangkok Bastards. 

“Bangkok Bastards” is a term he coined to refer to Bangkok’s lively, crazy, and unexpected street life and architecture. “It’s the lifestyle and the commonplace elements that gave birth to the signature artistry of our work,” 

Unique experience 

Design professionals were also encouraged to view craftsmanship as ideas transforming into physical structures accompanied by a unique experience. 

Panelist and architect Dominic Galicia pointed to the National Museum of Natural History as a case in point. Galicia, whose firm carries his namesake, was responsible for the transformation of the old Department of Agriculture building in Manila into a museum.

Juan Carlo Calma, head of Carlo Calma Consultancy, underscored the traditional meaning of craftsmanship—the manipulation of materials and the intensive human labor it requires.

Craftsmanship “should be labor-intensive, because Rome wasn’t built in a day,” he said.

Collaborative effort

For Architect Manny Miñana, principal architect of Emmanuel A. Miñana and Associates, craftsmanship in architecture succeeds when there’s a “collaborative effort among stakeholders.” 

Miñana recounted the experience of an architect who won an award for an innovative design, which however could not be adequately translated into building and engineering plans. Such inadequacy ultimately led to the structural quality suffering and costs ballooning, he recalled. 

“Craftsmanship of Architecture” was just one of the highlights Anthology Architecture and Design Festival organized by WTA Architecture + Design Studio. Since the first festival in 2015, Anthology has facilitated the exchange of ideas among professionals while showcasing the design discipline to a wider audience. 

Topics: “The Craftsmanship of Architecture" , Anthology Architecture and Design Festival , WTA Architecture + Design Studio

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