International experts to grace green architecture confab

International experts to grace green architecture confab
By Walter Ang
December 13, 2010
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Two international authorities, Emilio Ambasz and Francine Houben, will speak at a national architecture symposium on Jan. 21, 2011 to discuss "Global Green Concepts: Evolution of the Built Environment."

The symposium is organized by Architecture Network (Archinet), the University of Santo Tomas College of Architecture's student organization and will be held at Centerstage Theater, SM Mall of Asia.

Archinet planned the 2011 symposium theme to build on issues that were raised in the 2010 symposium that it also organized.

"The 2010 symposium, titled `Asian Green Cities: Visions of the Modern World,' concluded with a cliffhanger and left an open-ended question that begs to be answered," says Archinet president Mesezabel Montano. "What if we change the perception that `building green is something we can't afford' and, instead, embrace the truth that `we can no longer afford to build in any other way'?"

"Indeed, there is no easy solution when it comes to addressing the issue of sustainability," says Dan Lichauco, principal designer of Archion Architects, an associate professor at the college and Archinet's faculty advisor. "Only by asking the right questions will we get the right answers and therefore the right results.

"In this symposium, we hope to dissect the true issues behind the buzz-word `sustainability,' confront the cynicism that inhibits necessary action, and come up with creative concepts on how we can integrate green principles in our design process so that our built environment can continue to evolve into one which not only serves man but also honors nature."

Industrial designer and architect Emilio Ambasz will discuss how to design buildings that are intricately connected to the natural environment and accessible to the whole community.

Ambasz has a Master's Degree in Architecture from Princeton University. He has taught in the same university and has been a visiting professor at the Hochschule fur Gestaltung, Germany.

Projects include MycalSanda Cultural Center, Japan; Museum of American Folk Art, New York City; and Lucille Halsell Conservatory at the San Antonio Botanical Center, Texas.

He won First Prize in the closed competition to design the Master Plan for the Universal Exhibition of 1992 in Seville, Spain. In 1997, Ambasz received the Vitruvius Award from the MuseoNacional de BellasArtes, Argentina for the innovative quality of his work.

Francine Houben, founding partner and creative director of Mecanoo Architecten, Delft, The Netherlands, will present the philosophy behind her architecture, which is characterized
by a strong contextual sense for audience, user, and environment. She will also showcase a selection of her international projects which focus on energy consciousness, sustainability, and cultural value.

Houben has designed buildings in recognition that sustainability is a social responsibility and that buildings must inspire their users to be socially and ecologically responsible.

Houben is one of the few women to have reached a position of eminence in the field of architecture. She is a visiting professor at Harvard University. She lectures all over the world and takes part as jury member in many prestigious competitions. Her views on architecture where published in 2001 in the book "Composition, Contrast, Complexity."

Recent projects include Montevideo in Rotterdam and FiftyTwoDegrees in Nijmegen and Theatre and Congress Centre La Llotja in Llerida, Spain. Currently in development is the National Performing Arts Center in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.

"The symposium will address issues and challenges that face a developing nation like the Philippines in light of the current state of the global environment," says Montano. "Architects, designers and planners play crucial roles in offering solutions to these problems facing the nation."

"In addition, the symposium serves as a prelude to the celebration of the UST College of Architecture's 82nd anniversary in February 2011," she says. "The symposium is also a few days prior to the Grand Opening of UST's Quadricentennial Celebrations to be held on January 28, 2011." January 28 is the feast day of St. Thomas Aquinas, the patron saint of the university.

"Global Green Concepts: The Evolution of the Built Environment" is on Jan. 21, 2011. For details, call 09178966378. Register at

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