Foundree is every architect’s new go-to learning hub

July 4, 2019



Lorenzo Escober

Classical history is replete with accounts of the first academies. These fabled institutions, first established by the likes of Plato and Aristotle, provided a common ground for neophytes to exchange ideas with known thinkers. Here, there was no one-size-fits-all curriculum, no dogmatic approach to the arts, no oppressive grading system. There was only the free economy of knowledge—a remarkably fluid setup that allowed pupils to flourish in their respective fields of study.

Not your typical review center: welcome to Foundree, a progressive learning center for architecture and built environment.

It’s the very model that inspired Foundree, a progressive learning hub for architecture graduates, practitioners, creatives, and just about any professional in the building industry. This isn’t to say that the new establishment is the glittering ideal of modern education. But it does recall the learning centers of yore in more ways than one. By breathing life into the traditional learning paradigm, it asserts itself as a presence to watch out for.

Upon arrival, guests are welcomes by a colorful mural of architecture’s iconic Modulor, done by Anjo Borlarda of Studio Bitto, surrounded by sketches of Filipino traditional homes and other local elements.

While it has yet to launch its comprehensive review for the ALE, Foundree has already taught specially focused classes to help aspiring architects prepare for test day. Among these are the Mock Board Exams and the Booster Class for Rule 7 & 8. One of the enrollees in the latter course, Miko Angelo Balverde, recently placed Top 5 in the most recent boards and gratefully credited Dy for his solid grasp of the concepts. “Foundree helped me build myself mentally,” he says. “In the portion of the boards that tackled Rule 7 & 8, I was able to answer with ease and confidence.”

Foundree is an environment where individuals can learn and share in dynamic ways. It’s a center where you can master the fundamentals, gain new knowledge at your own pace, learn from experts in the field, and access focused courses that enrich your experience as an architect, creative, or designer.

The well-designed space is conducive to learning and creativity, encouraging Founders (all students) to maintain their passion for architecture. (Photo by Bayani de la Pasion)

Instead of just spoon-feeding students, Foundree forges the skills they will need in their practice. It’s a forward-thinking philosophy reflected in Foundree’s name, a portmanteau of “foundry” and “tree.” By galvanizing pupils and nurturing their ideas, the architecture collective is equipping them for real work in the real world.

“Our purpose is to help our students use the knowledge and learnings we cultivate in them to let their careers and creative ideas prosper,” says Gerard Dy, a practicing architect who graduated Magna Cum Laude of his class in 2003. Dy is a founding member of Foundree as well as its head of curriculum. He has used his experience teaching in universities and review centers to create different courses that cater to each person’s needs. “Every person follows a different learning curve. We make sure that no matter how their brain is wired, they’ll understand the material and integrate it seamlessly into their practice.”

Unpainted walls, an exposed ceiling, and a concrete floor make for a hip, industrial atmosphere, drawing attention to inspirational centerpieces like murals of Pritzker Architecture Prize laureates and National Artists of Architecture and images of significant contemporary buildings done by Art De Lite.

This approach isn’t limited to textbook concepts only. Every class taken at Foundree comes with its share of mentorship. Students—or Founders as they’re called—get to maintain a healthy dialogue with their instructors, who help them build confidence, self-awareness, and mental ease: all key components to the practice of architecture.

Dy’s passion for teaching is evident in the way he interacts with the students in Foundree’s small-scale classes. He does live sketches in class, projecting them on a board for the whole room to see. Founders get to momentarily inhabit his mind, following his artistic intuition and formulating their own creative instincts along the way.

One liberating aspect of being a Founder is the respect given to one’s personal learning curve. Instructors sit down with each enrollee to assess their strengths and weaknesses, developing focused, low-density classes where they will be grouped with similar learners. These mentorship courses will focus on the specific topics Founders need to build on, letting them learn at their own pace. To make these classes even more effective, instructors cluster topics strategically. For instance, history is more effectively learned with theory or utilities are best grasped alongside systems, and so on.

Students can look up and seek inspiration from the great personalities and iconic buildings of architecture, brought to life by Art De Lite.

In addition to the Trilogy or the classes focused on the basic concepts of architecture, Foundree also has innovative Booster Classes that enhance specific areas of learning. As opposed to a regular refresher class—which simply rehashes concepts they already learned in school, Booster Classes build on aspiring architects’ knowledge and understanding to help set them apart from other people taking the Architectural Licensure Exam. The Design and Planning Booster, for instance, helps Founders visualize their creative concepts and master the technique of site planning.

To further build these students’ confidence ahead of the ALE, Foundree simulates the entire experience with a mock board exam. The entire atmosphere of the exam day gets recreated—from the all-white attire to the high-pressure time limit. After, mentors go through each Founder’s missteps, analyzing their weaknesses and telling them what to improve on. A recent ALE passer also gives them tips on acing the test.

Even architects who have been designing for years have something to learn at Foundree. The hub offers a special seminar that simplifies the implementation of the National Building Code’s Rules VII and VIII, improving their understanding and interpretation of the laws for practical application. Foundree also taps its own curated network of experts to host special workshops, talks, and other sessions with the primary intent of providing relevant learning to improve their practice. Another benefit is that these workshops let architects accumulate the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) units they need to renew their licenses.

The iconic Sto. Domingo Church by National Artist Jose Maria Zaragoza is across the street from Foundree, so if there are any students who are praying to pass the boards, they can look out the window and say their silent prayers when they see it.

Foundree has a scholarship program that lets interested applicants enroll in the classes for free. To further incentivize enrollees, Founders who took the Trilogy classes and made it to the top 10 of the ALE get an all-expense paid trip to a local island beach vacation.

“What we’re trying to do here is build a community,” says Dy. “A place where young people can learn from established stalwarts.” Going to Foundree, therefore, opens people up to a diverse network of architects and allied professionals. This makes it a key venue to form connections and indulge in conversations with people who share a passion for architecture, design, and the arts.

Foundree’s offerings are not limited to review classes for the architecture licensure exams, but also offer Professional Development Programs with the primary intent of providing relevant learning to improve their practice.

With a beautifully designed Buensalido Architects-designed space, Foundree is, more than anything, a creative space. The lobby evokes a giant notebook, complete with 2D notes and murals as well as 3D samples of actual building materials with comfy lounge chairs and fun little swings.

Unpainted walls, an exposed ceiling, and a concrete floor make for a hip, industrial atmosphere, drawing attention to inspirational centerpieces like murals of Pritzker Architecture Prize laureates and National Artists of Architecture and images of significant contemporary buildings. This casual ambience proves to be conducive to creativity, encouraging Founders to maintain their passion for architecture.

An exciting new development, Foundree stands as a promising learning hub for the architectural community. “Every ounce of effort put into this business was worth it,” smiles Dy. “We’re not just here to provide shortcuts. We’re creating a venue for relevant learning—learning you can take with you throughout your career. Everyone here can share their ideas openly and productively. Gone are the days of keeping things to ourselves—the more we share, the more we grow as a country. Discourse is the key to progress.”

Foundree is located at the 4th floor of Elements Building, 560 Quezon Avenue, Quezon City, Philippines. Please check and @foundree on IG for class schedules and other information, or email [email protected].

Photographed by Bayani de la Pasion

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