Digging Out of the Sandbox
Architecture has a lot of definitions, based on different points of view. Coming up with my own and explaining it is very tough for me. In fact, this is my first time to formulate a personal definition for architecture. I have not thought of it before because I was too preoccupied with the designing, drafting, and such. However, I realized that there has to be a reason I do all those activities. Just like what was mentioned in our class, I need to know those reasons to know my next move, to set goals, and to basically become a good architect. Honestly speaking, I at first lost track of the flow of ideas during our class discussion. Perhaps I needed to dig deeper into what architecture really is to me. Later, I thought that one way to come up with my personal definition is through finally picking up the shovel and digging deep for the buried memories of where it all started. Well… where it all started in me, at least.
My earliest memory was my childhood in Pag-asa, Quezon City where my parents rented an apartment. That apartment wasn’t our house alone; much of the ground floor was occupied by my papa’s bike shop and half of the second floor was my mom’s dental clinic. Their workspaces were all crammed in that small building we called home. I even remember a time when my mother brought crates of mangoes from our province and sold them right in front of our house. However, I don’t remember myself complaining about it at all. That’s because in spite of our apartment turning into a market, I still found places where I could dwell in as the childish little girl I was. Aside from the small area which was left of our second floor as the only bedroom, I was free to play and run wildly outside, specifically at the empty lot behind our house which connects to the home of my other relatives. There, my cousins, my big brother, and I spent enjoyable hours together. We sometimes equipped it with furniture and kitchenware to play “bahay-bahayan”. Perhaps, that was where I began to have a little feel of what architecture is. That small and trashy lot which served as our common service area with a poorly cemented ground became my home, my space.
However, as I grew up, I learned that my space is not forever limited to that small vacant lot. When I started to study, I moved to my grandmother’s house in Fairview. I discovered a lot of new things under her care, although my old experiences remained cherished. She brought me to different cities and took me to her office in Makati. I was fascinated by the high ceilings and the elevators with glass walls, gasping at every beautiful structure out of utter amazement. I learned that from an empty lot, we can create sky scrapers and structures of irregular shapes. I was exposed to the huge malls, parks, hotels, and such. What struck me, though, is the fact that all these were still for the people. I noticed that designed spaces, empty lots or a tall offices, still address the needs of the people. When I realized, through these experiences, how infinite the possibilities actually are, I was somehow convinced that architecture is course worth taking; there, I won’t only design, I would also give.
Through my experiences as a child, I was able to prove to myself that architecture indeed is an environmental design. Architecture for me isn’t just about the walls and pillars that rise from the ground. It is the art of arranging space and involving ourselves into it, just like how a man lost in a forest eventually finds his way out – through familiarization of such spaces. This is also the same as how a little girl suffocated by surrounding adult businesses finds a means of escape into a paradise of play, all through designing and familiarizing space. I also proved that architecture truly “means something” to the people involved. Today, I live in a whole different area, setting, space. But one thing’s for sure: when I get a glimpse of that small service area behind our house in Pag-asa again, it would no longer appear to me as a mere dirty portion of land. Lastly, architecture, no matter what form it may take, addresses to the needs, and perhaps wants, of the people.
All my experiences from childhood up until now are very important to me. What is significant about them is already mentioned all throughout my story. But why are they significant? My answer is that they formed me into who I am as an architecture student with strengths and weaknesses. If not for those experiences, I won’t be able to come up with my personal definition of architecture which can be summed up as: the designing of space to address the people’s needs and to make them “feel” through infinitely many possibilities. That, dear reader, is the definition of architecture for me. It is anyway a product of my experiences. Should it sound broad and weak, it only means I have more to experience and more to explore. But at least for now, I have dug deep enough and I have an idea where I’m going.