Top architects and designers gather in support of the World Architecture Festival’s Filipino contenders

September 16, 2019



Kristoff Sison

Four esteemed Filipino designers will be presenting their projects at the World Architecture Festival (WAF) this December 2019 at Amsterdam. Celebrated designers Kenneth Cobonpue, in collaboration with Buck Sia of Zubu Design Associates, and Carlo Calma of Carlo Calma Consultancy are joined by the sibling duo of Jesy and Jaemi Cruz of Alero Design Studio and JR Santos of John Ryan Santos+Partners to round up the contenders. The three-day festival will host the brilliant minds behind over 500 of the world’s best projects as they present their concepts and structures before an international panel of judges as they vie for the illustrious World Building of the Year, Future Project of the Year, and Small Project of the Year titles.

From left to right: Jesy and Jaemi Cruz of Alero Design Studio, JR Santos and Pauline Bato of John Ryan Santos+Partners, Buck Sia of Zubu Design Associates

As an expression of solidarity among the community of architects and designers in the Philippines, and to promote peer-to-peer critique, BluPrint in partnership with Grohe and Wilcon hosted the World Architecture Festival Filipino Finalists’ Sendoff last September 10, 2019, at the Grohe Showroom, Wilcon IT Hub, Makati. The event was attended by reputable architects, designers, and previous WAF winners and finalists, such as 2017 Completed Buildings – Civic & Community and Small Project of the Year winner Sudarshan Khadka, 2018 Future Project – Civic winner Benjee Mendoza, Terence Yu and Jorge Yulo, shortlisted in 2017, and the first Filipino to be shortlisted into WAF last 2014, Manny Miñana.

Emily Besavilla, Philippine Marketing Manager of LIXIL, and Philip Cu-Unieng of Philippine Star
Architect Don Lino, BluPrint Editor Judith Torres, Interior Designer Jesy Cruz, and Architect Sudar Khadka of i.incite
Eden Godino, Vice President of Product Development at Wilcon, welcomes the finalists and audience to the Grohe showroom and promises Wilcon’s “unrelenting support” for architects and designers who will represent the Philippines at the World Architecture Festival
From left to right: Reginald Yangzon, Reena Santos, and two members of the mock jury, Joseph Javier and Benjee Mendoza listen as Judith Torres explains the format of WAF crits, which the BluPrint-Grohe crits simulated

John Ryan Santos, Jesy and Jaemi Cruz, and Buck Sia took the podium and presented their projects following the festival’s format and time-limit, then taking questions from the mock jury composed of WAF finalists, with members of the audience eagerly chiming in. First up was Sagip-Kanlungan by John Ryan Santos + Partners, the compact hospital model for disaster-prone rural areas in the Philippines. “Sagip-Kanlungan is a work of architecture at its most fundamental and basic,” says Santos. “The design is like a loving parent to a child: always in the background but can always be relied upon. Humanity invented architecture to give dignity to its shelters. This project continues that core purpose–to give shelter.”


JR Santos of John Ryan Santos+Partners
Budji Layug of BUDJI+ROYAL Architecture and Design has the floor. Others in the audience: Roy Villarosa of R. Villarosa Architects and Terence Yu of VisionArch, a WAF finalist for 2017

Next to present were Jesy and Jaemi Cruz of Alero Design Studio with their shortlisted entry into the Future Projects – Civic category, the Baliwag Community Center. The multi-purpose complex is poised to be the premier hub for convergence and trade in the town, spearheading culture preservation and communal activities. “Once completed, this structure will honor the built and the builder, and return the spotlight to the community,” says Jaemi. The center honors the contributions of laborers, carpenters, farmers, painters, Buntal hat weavers, and artisans through its materials and spaces inspired by local structures and handicrafts. “We believe it’s about time we pay tribute to the unsung heroes who continue to build the cultural identity of not only Baliwag, but that of the whole Philippines.”

READ MORE: Who’s up against Alero Design Studio’s Jesy and Jaemi Cruz at the WAF 2019?

Brother and sister Jesy and Jaemi Cruz of Alero Design Studio begin their presentation
Alero Design Studio is based in Bulacan and recently opened a branch in Manila. The sibling duo also work the family business, MSC Construction in San Rafael, Bulacan. Jesy owns a hardware store, as well as a furniture store called Arterior, in Kapitolyo.

Lastly for the event, Buck Sia of Zubu Design Associates took the stage to present his collaboration with Kenneth Cobonpue in the Cor Jesu Oratory of the Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu. The structure provides a spiritual sanctuary for the 3,000 students in the campus, celebrating local craftsmanship through the use of bamboo, and the keeping nature at the fore through its humble footprint preserving the surrounding decades-old mango trees and leaving ample space for a garden at its side. “With the erection of the Cor Jesu, the Jesuits, the students, and the alumni not only have a venue to celebrate their mass but finally have a physical symbol of their faith,” says Sia. “People often comment on the beauty of the Cor Jesu. But more than that, the best compliment we have heard is that it has helped people pray,” he adds.


Buck Sia of Zubu Design Associates, the architect-of-record for Cor Jesu in Cebu designed by industrial designer Kenneth Cobonpue
Standing: Joey Yupangco, former dean of the School of Design and the Arts, College of St. Benilde

After the night’s three presentations, BluPrint’s Editor-In-Chief Judith Torres, along with LIXIL’s Philippine Marketing Manager Emily Besavilla and Wilcon’s Vice President of Product Development Eden Godino, led a toast for the country’s contenders.

Back row, from left to right: Emily Besavilla (Lixil), Carlo Malantic (Grohe), Terence Yu (VisionArch), Sudar Khadka (i.incite), Buck Sia (Zubu Design Associates), JR Santos and Pauline Bato (John Ryan Santos+Partners), Jorge Yulo (Jorge Yulo Architects & Associates), Manny Miñana (Emannuel A. Miñana and Associates), and Benjee Mendoza (BAAD Studio) Front row, from left to right: Joralyn Ong (Lixil), Jesy and Jaemi Cruz (Alero Design Studio), Judith Torres (BluPrint), Dheza Paras (Wilcon), and Air Zaragoza (Grohe)
From left to right: Jesy and Jaemi Cruz, Buck Sia, JR Santos and Pauline Bato

Stay tuned for BluPrint’s live coverage of the World Architecture Festival 2019 as they compete this December 4-6, 2019, at RAI Amsterdam.

READ MORE: Four Filipino Firms Make World Architecture Festival 2019 Awards Shortlist

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