FOR William Ti, principal architect at WTA Architecture and Design Studio, architecture is an art or science that should not only develop a concept that will please the people but also involve a rational process behind every design.
“A design has to project something or throw something out there. In short, I believe architects must focus and be thinkers because we’re more into ideas and not only drawings,” Ti said during a recent interview with the BusinessMirror.
“There is a need to reorient students, who want to pursue architecture, that the discipline is not producing a design. In expounding, the University of Santo Tomas alumnus pointed out that sustainability and functionality are important elements in the study of architecture. Future architects must also think that they should design and build structures that will benefit society,” Ti said.
Further, Ti believes architecture plays a strong role in the development of cities. This means good architecture can transform a city that is liveable and promotes sustainability. “This is also an important element for architects,” Ti said. At the moment, WTA is currently busy preparing for the Venice Architecture Biennale 2014. It has been invited to be one of the exhibitors in the prestigious event in a collateral event called “Time, Space, Existence.” It will present an installation called Fragments: Uncertainties and Characters, which showcases the various cultural, social, and political influences that mold the urban character of the cities in the Philippines, particularly that of Manila.
“We intend to show the world the current state of Philippine architecture. In effect, we aim to stir constructive discourses that will lead to further analyses of our local architecture in a global context, as well as dialogues between our architecture and that of other cultures,” Ti said. “We are putting on display this existing situation so the audience can compare what’s on hand and what we intend to do in the future. We want to bring to Venice the spirit of our place—the genius loci—distinct to Manila,” Ti said.
“We’ve been asking ourselves: ‘Should the cities of tomorrow continue to be set on a formal planned guiderail or can more flexible rules allow for the development of more varied communities? Should the ground upon which architecture is developed continue to be predefined as sites are today? Should we look for a less deterministic framework to guide and define the cities of tomorrow?’ What we present then displaces the multiplicity of building types engaged by the practice,” Ti added.
In pictures, the Fragments exhibit presents a grand view of Metro Manila as seen through their eyes, illustrating the richness and diversity of typologies and character, which make the city an enticing setting. The map shows how each neighborhood is perceived and notes peculiar characteristics that influence WTA’s design sensibilities.
According to Ti, in essence, Manila, which once held barren districts, is now thriving with structures that host multinational companies and iconic commercial and residential developments. Long-standing buildings from old avenues are being preserved through the furtherance of its purpose and role in the growth of its provenance.
He added that the number of city centers, or at least those that are aspiring to serve as one, are on the rise, bringing together the “live-work-play” aspects in a single dense area to fulfill the promise of convenience and modern living.
Founded in 2007 WTA is a relatively young player in the industry and is composed of fairly young professionals.
Ti said that when it comes to design, they put more premiums on social relevance—those that relate to the community, promote urbanity, and develop the society. He says this comes into realization by making sure the firm’s projects are built with foresight, taking careful consideration of how a development would spur growth in its locality and how it would work for people in defining their sense of self and community.
“We tried exploring how we can tackle them both vertically and horizontally. These table maps are a sampling from the greater metropolis and are the fragments that make up and define the city,” Ti added. “The city is our playground, but at the same time, it is our home which nourishes and shelters us. And as architects, we tend to have fantastical visions and unrelenting hopes for our city. It is, however, and will always be non-negotiable for us to prime our projects and even our exhibits with socially aware yet uncompromising design sensibilities.”
After establishing its mark in the Philippines by having marquee clients such as Security Bank, Banco de Oro and Robinsons, WTA plans to expand overseas.
“Two years from now, we plan to open an office in Singapore plus a satellite office in China. In five years, we plan open an office either in Seattle or London,” Ti said.