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Future-ready architects in the better normal

IT is with great enthusiasm that the United Architects of the Philippines (UAP) announces the grand launching of the 48th UAP National Convention (NatCon 48) with the theme, “Future-Ready Architects in the Better Normal.”

The launching of the 2023 national convention will be held on Jan. 27, 2023 at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) together with a press conference. This also marks the start of the official registration of delegates for the annual national convention which will happen on April 19 to 22, 2023 at the same iconic venue, the PICC.

The 48th edition of the architects’ national convention is a symbolic stance signaling the architects’ readiness to face the challenges of the times, particularly because the world economy has finally opened again after a hiatus of more than two years due to the recent pandemic. This year, we celebrate and pay homage to National Artist Arch. Leandro Locsin as his masterpiece, the PICC, has been declared our National Cultural Treasure by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.

Our keynote speaker is no less than Arch. José Luis Cortés, the president of Union Internationale des Architectes, a federation of national professional organizations working to unify architects, influence public policies and advance architecture in service to the needs of society. His talk will focus on the main theme of the convention, “Future-Ready Architects in the Better Normal.” He is poised to challenge the convention delegates how to respond to the challenges of the future considering that every component of the built environment has a societal purpose, and there is a need to think and explore how it can evolve; consider the environmental fabric and offer solutions to it by not only attending to the immediate challenges but also going beyond.

We have invited Dr. Christine Bruckner, an architect who is known to bring her design focus on sustainability, best practice and the public realm to the forefront, and advocates for an improved built environment globally. She will do a lecture on “Decarbonization in Design, Toward a Sustainable Healthy Built Environment.” She will expound the discussions on this important aspect of being future-ready architects.

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This national convention of architects will also be graced by another prolific architect — Thomas Vonier. He is a leading advocate for applying research to architectural design, advancing the use of innovative technologies in buildings and cities, and integrating unobtrusive security measures with architecture and urban design. His plenary lecture will be on “Architecture and Planning in the Better Normal.” What should our best response be to another pandemic, natural disasters and other calamities? He will explicate innovation and complexity in architecture, design and urban planning to usher in the creation of better communities that can adapt to the so-called better normal.

Every architect’s convention offers highly curated activities that will address the needs of the architects in attendance to improve their craft as the prime professionals in the built environment. This year, we focus on the idea that architects are practitioners with various special roles in society, thus, the need to specialize. Currently, the prominent engagements of architects include project management services, design and build services, while others are into green and sustainability services. Others focus on the architectural designing track particularly specializing in tourism and hospitality architecture, liturgical design, and some practice hospital and health care architecture. There are architects who are also heavily involved as members of the academe, and those who serve in the government. All these specializations of architects will be part of this year’s national convention through a whole day interaction in the Brown Bag Sessions.

The concept of a Brown Bag Session was introduced in the corporate world as a meeting over a “brown bag lunch.” It is usually informal and often collaborative in approach. For NatCon 48, we have developed the Continuing Professional Development seminars on specialization, which are curated seminars during the Brown Bag Sessions, which will be a great way to interact with your colleagues in the industry and learn new things in a relaxed atmosphere. Sessions will be more casual to encourage more participation from attendees, and therefore more productive.

This year’s edition of the convention also introduces the “TentTalks: a Design Discourse under the Tent.” Inspired by the huge success of TED Talks, the UAP will curate thought-provoking discourses into the design thinking. As the title suggests, it will be held, “under the tent” of the PICC, the Forum Tent, thus the activity name, “TentTalks.”

TentTalk 1 looks back at the rich history of the CCP Complex, an 88-hectare reclaimed property in Pasay City designed by Locsin, and the reason it’s been tagged as the “Edifice Complex.” It includes the CCP main building, Folk Arts Theater, Philippine International Convention Center, Manila Film Center and Coconut Palace. This will be curated by architect-historian Dr. Gerard Lico, the author of the book with the same title.

If TenTalk 1 is “looking back,” for TentTalk 2, Arch. Buck Sia from Cebu is curating a talk on “looking forward.” He has formulated a discussion about “Addressing Future Forward Architecture” to address impending societal issues crucial for the future. It posits, “How can architecture be a response to the future of the built environment?”

The 48th National Convention of Architects promotional poster.

The 48th National Convention of Architects promotional poster.

The 48th National Convention of Architects promotional poster.

As a parallel and equally important event of the national convention, we will also have the much-awaited Conex 2023. The UAP Convention Exhibits (Conex) is one of the Philippines’ premier building and construction exhibitions. Yearly, it exposes state-of-the-art products and is a perfect ground to promote technologies, equipment and materials on the Philippine market coming from all construction industry sectors. Conex aims to showcase the organization’s industry partners and allow the architects to be more knowledgeable about the latest building innovations, latest building materials and even structural systems. More so, during this exhibition, Conex 2023 will promote networking between architects and industry partners. It will likewise provide unlimited opportunities for collaboration for current and future undertakings of the architects.

In Conex, we believe that today’s world presents many challenges that require architects to think beyond traditional building methods and materials. As technology continues to advance at an exponential rate, architects must be prepared for the future by discovering innovative design solutions that are sustainable and cost-effective.

Let this article serve as our invitation to all architects to register for this year’s national convention. NatCon 48’s theme “Future-ready Architects in the Better Normal” will allow us to bring back the camaraderie and reunite with our colleagues, and of course, our much-valued industry partners as we enjoy a new NatCon experience. It’s time to once again acquire more knowledge while having fun at the same time through our nightly festivities especially conceptualized by the NatCon Organizing Committee for all the delegates.

The writer is the immediate past secretary-general of the United Architects of the Philippines and the current convention director of the 48th National Convention of Architects.

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