Architecture is not only the art and science of designing space — it is a social statement. And if the recent wave of constructions in UP Diliman (UPD) were indeed any indication, the UP administration seems all geared up towards a pretense of modernization.
BY ELISE SOPHIA S. FRANCISCO AND JERRIE M. ABELLA
Posted by Bulatlat
Vol. VII, No. 26, August 5-11, 2007
Architecture is not only the art and science of designing space – it is a social statement. And if the recent wave of constructions in UP Diliman (UPD) were indeed any indication, the UP administration seems all geared up towards a pretense of modernization.
Architecture for “progressive people”
In 1939, shortly before World War II, the construction of UPD buildings began when the 493-hectare lot was acquired in Diliman. National Artist Juan Nakpil, head of the architectural firm in charge of the constructions, designed an architectural style that is expressive of the belief in a “free and progressive people.”
The use of the color maroon, derived from the name of a Jamaican tribe which defended their independence and freedom from slavery, represented the fight for freedom. Even the Oblation, a sculpture by Guillermo Tolentino, with its arms outstretched and face pointed upward, expresses selfless dedication and service to the nation.
More buildings were erected after the war, indicative of the university’s optimism for expansion projects. The Church of the Holy Sacrifice, for example, was built in 1955 for the Catholic community. The church was designed to be round, with the altar placed at the middle, allowing a more keen and intimate interaction between the congregation and the priest, and in effect, giving an impression of dismantling the hierarchical structure of churches.
Designs for constructions and renovations in the university come from the Office of the Campus Architect (OCA).
The selection of contractors is subject to government procurement laws, where the contractor with the lowest bid within the budget allotted for the project gets the job. At present, the price for constructing a square meter of a building ranges from P15,000-P20,000 ($327 – $436 at an exchange rate of $1=P45.84).
Compared to the mostly neoclassical architectural style of the earliest buildings in UP, recent constructions, however, are now more modern in design.
Curves and waves, plastered on walls and surfaces, illustrate an advancement in technology. Plain cement is now applied with more colors, mostly brighter, displaying the current trends in architectural design.
The College of Architecture (CA) and the Office of the University Registrar (OUR) are two of the latest works of the OCA, while the Physics building was designed by Arch. Francisco Nakpil.
While these buildings still use the cream and brick motif first employed in earlier buildings such as the Quezon Hall, Palma Hall, and Main Library, new designs are also implemented, and aspects of aesthetics and function are weighed.
The new OUR building’s roof is partly fiberglass, utilizing sunlight as a source of illumination supposedly to lessen electricity consumption. Curves and dancing lines, meanwhile, are predominant in the CA building’s design.
Brighter colors and abstract designs also typify the glass motif of the new Physics building, with an atrium and a skylight inside.
On shaky grounds
UPD, no doubt, is seeking transformation in the “outpouring of investments into modernization.” An article in UPD’s official website affirmed the administration’s commitment to modernizing facilities and services as it looks forward to its centennial year.