Friday, October 1, 2010

Office of the city architect

Thursday we went to the office of the the city architect. The chief, Danilo M. Fuentebella, took some time off his schedule to tell us about architecture in the Philippines and the ongoing projects in Tacloban. Right now the biggest priority is to organize and upgrade the seaport, which today is a bit messy and unfuctional. This however, costs money that is not in the budget, and the office is now pumping out attractive proposals and renderings to try to get funding from inverstors from the state and the private sector. Other projects in the works are extending the mayors office and building a new bus station. Mr Danilo is a busy man who also has a thriving private practice, and his assistant architect Siegfried B. Solajes was ready to continue our converstation. Before we left the chiefs office, we were invited to go on a guided tour of the city's construction sites, which sure will be interesting.

Siegfried showed us around the office, which basically was one middle sized room, where everyone from draftsmen to structural engineers were sitting and working at their computers. We talked about education (the architect himself being a teacher), and the big difference in conditions for architecture in our two countries. Here in Tacloban the most used materials are concrete, hollowblocks, steel and glass. There is a skepticism towards using wood because of the high moisture content and problems with termites. Wood is also expensive in this region. He told us that architecture in the Philippines is largely inspired by American architecture. Many projects even have a touch of postmodernism. Native materials like bamboo are at the moment basically only used in interiors. We are now looking for an architect we can collaborate with on our project, and before thanking for our visit, we got the contact information of a local architect who has a lot of experience working with bamboo and other native materials.


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