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Member Profile: Joel Agustin, Int’l Assoc. AIA

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“Architecture” is the art, science or profession of planning, designing and constructing buildings in their totality taking into account their environment, in accordance with the principles of utility, strength and beauty. – The Architecture Act of 2004 (Definition of Architecture), Republic of the Philippines

In legal terms, an architect is ultimately a building professional. Architecture is truly a multidisciplinary field, a marriage of art and science. To practice architecture in the Philippines requires some solid knowledge, a creative spark, a host of interpersonal skills, five years of university education, two years of diversified work experience, licensure – and a drafting table.

I got into architecture because, simply put, I liked building things. Like any other designer, my sense of fulfillment comes from seeing my sketches spring into three-dimensions. At 17, of course, this meant building bird houses.

I spent my first three years in university being trained to draw by hand, design with a technical expertise and develop a sense of quality using a drafting board, a bunch of set squares and a 48-inch T-Square ruler. I carried these tools around with me for the next five years.. I was encouraged to develop visual perception and understand construction as a means of communication of principles through more research, constant discussion and occasional debates with my peers.

I spent my last two years at school exploring more detailed spatial and visual considerations by designing and planning actual projects. This meant more drawings, preparatory studies, research, making actual scale models, lots of hard work, sleepless nights and massive doses of caffeine. Other significant components of my education involved developing ethics, and of course, completing a thesis requirement. CAD, at the time, was not part of the curriculum and was something I had to learn after I graduated.

I have been practicing architecture for almost 20 years. Technology has definitely impacted the practice of architecture, but it has opened doors for other specialized functions in project management, project scheduling and cost analysis, which is my current specialization.
Building design and construction cannot divorce itself from architecture, no matter how impressive technology gets. Trends may change, technology may be exponential, but I still build my own bird houses and I still own a drafting table.

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