In the dynamic world of architecture, women architects are carving out their space, reshaping skylines, and transforming communities through their creativity, innovation, and dedication to excellence. Among these trailblazers are Nikki Buensalido, Nikki Tayag, and Rebecca Plaza-Ti, whose architectural journeys highlight the transformative power of education, vision, and perseverance.

As they navigate the intricacies of the built environment, these women reshape the physical landscape while championing inclusivity, sustainability, and social impact.

Nikki Buensalido: Redefining Contemporary Philippine Architecture

Nikki Buensalido’s journey in architecture is a testament to her resilience, vision, and commitment to Filipino identity. Graduating magna cum laude from the University of Santo Tomas, Buensalido’s academic achievements laid the groundwork for her illustrious career in architecture. After honing her skills through internships and passing the Architecture Licensure Exam, she officially joined Buensalido + Architects in 2011, where she played a pivotal role in rebranding the firm and shaping its distinct identity.

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Buensalido + Architects specializes in contemporary Philippine architecture, characterized by an experimental, process-oriented, and context-driven design approach. Buensalido’s passion for her craft extends beyond the confines of traditional practice. She is deeply involved in various aspects of architectural endeavor, from business development and project management to design approval and community engagement. Her firm’s projects, such as the Redenza Suites, exemplify her commitment to sustainability, vibrant aesthetics, and user-centric design solutions.

The Redenza Suites project holds a special place in Buensalido’s heart. It embodies her family’s legacy and her vision for contemporary Philippine architecture. From conceptualization to completion, she infused the project with a sense of vibrancy, warmth, and functionality, creating spaces that resonate with the Filipino spirit. The project’s success underscores Buensalido’s ability to marry innovation with tradition, creating spaces that inspire and uplift communities.

Nikki Tayag: Illuminating Spaces with Architectural Lighting Design

Nikki Tayag’s architectural journey is illuminated by her passion for lighting design and her dedication to education. After completing her Bachelor of Science in Architecture at the University of Santo Tomas, Tayag pursued a Master of Fine Arts in Lighting Design at Parsons School of Design in New York. Armed with a wealth of knowledge and experience, she returned to the Philippines to found her boutique firm, 33rd & 3rd Architectural Lighting Design, with a focus on user experience, creativity, and collaboration.

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Specializing in architectural lighting design for interior, exterior/façade, and landscape/land development, Tayag’s firm is at the forefront of innovation and creativity. Her projects showcase a deep understanding of light as a design tool, enhancing spatial experiences and creating environments that are both functional and aesthetically pleasing. Beyond practice, Tayag is committed to education. She serves as the Dean of the College of Architecture and Design at Enderun Colleges, where she imparts her knowledge and passion for design to the next generation of architects.

Tayag’s expertise and dedication to her craft have earned her recognition and accolades. This includes a nomination in the Women in Lighting Awards by The Light Collective, UK. Her leadership in architectural lighting design shapes the physical landscape and redefines how we experience and interact with our built environment. Her commitment to improving lives through architecture is reflected in projects like the BSP SNR Complex, which symbolizes hope and upliftment for the Filipino community.

Rebecca Plaza-Ti: Building a Better Future through Social Architecture

Rebecca Plaza-Ti’s architectural journey is marked by excellence, social impact, and a commitment to lifelong learning. With academic accolades from prestigious institutions such as the University of Bath and the University of Cambridge, Rebecca’s architectural prowess is matched only by her dedication to community engagement and social justice.

Plaza and Partners, now integrated into WTA Architecture and Design Studio, champions social architecture. They place people at the forefront of design. Through her firm’s projects and advocacy efforts, Rebecca strives to create inclusive and barrier-free environments that promote discovery, exploration, and societal development.

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Rebecca’s journey in architecture is characterized by her unwavering commitment to excellence, her dedication to social impact, and her willingness to challenge the status quo. As Managing Director of WTA Architecture and Design Studio, she continues to lead by example, inspiring others to push boundaries, embrace diversity, and create spaces that empower and uplift communities.

Balancing Motherhood and Design Excellence

As women architects continue to make significant contributions to the field, their journeys serve as inspiration for future generations. Buensalido, Tayag, and Plaza-Ti exemplify the transformative power of education, innovation, and a commitment to excellence in shaping the built environment and empowering communities. Through their leadership, mentorship, and advocacy efforts, they pave the way for a more equitable, inclusive, and sustainable future in architecture.

Moreover, these three women are not just architects reshaping skylines and transforming communities. They also balance the demanding roles of being moms. Their ability to navigate both professional excellence and motherhood highlights their resilience, dedication, and exceptional time management skills. Balancing design meetings, site visits, and project deadlines with family responsibilities requires careful planning and flexibility. Yet they demonstrate that it’s possible to excel in both realms, inspiring others to pursue their passions without compromising on family life.

In her architectural journey, Buensalido emphasizes the experiential nature of design, highlighting the importance of engaging all the senses. She believes that architecture should evoke memories, appeal to the brain, and touch the human heart. Spaces should elicit emotional responses and inspire lasting experiences. Buensalido draws inspiration not only from renowned architects like Le Corbusier and Rem Koolhaas but also from local icon Bambi Manosa. Her commitment to community and art resonates deeply with her. Additionally, her children serve as constant sources of creativity and inspiration, reminding her of the limitless possibilities of imagination and play.

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For Tayag, the element of light holds paramount importance in architectural design, particularly natural light. With a deep understanding of its potential to enhance spaces and improve well-being, Tayag strives to optimize light as a fundamental design tool. Drawing inspiration from architects like Tadao Ando and lighting designers like Tino Kwan, she incorporates simplicity, site context, and innovative lighting solutions into her practice. Despite the demands of her profession, Tayag finds joy in designing landscape and land development projects. She relishes the opportunity to integrate diverse elements into cohesive and visually engaging spaces.

Plaza finds inspiration in her partner, both personally and professionally, as they share a mutual passion for architecture and design. Their intellectual exchanges and shared appreciation for architectural giants like Rem Koolhaas and Le Corbusier shaped Plaza’s approach to design. She emphasizes the importance of placing people at the forefront of every architectural endeavor, recognizing the profound impact buildings have on individuals and communities. Plaza’s dedication to prioritizing human-centric design reflects her commitment to creating inclusive, sustainable, and socially impactful environments.

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As architects, Nikki Buensalido, Nikki Tayag, and Rebecca Plaza-Ti excel in their professional endeavors. But they also demonstrate remarkable resilience and dedication as mothers. Balancing the demands of architecture and motherhood, they continue to inspire others with their creativity, passion, and unwavering commitment to excellence in both realms.

Innovation and education are central to the architectural endeavors of Nikki Buensalido, Nikki Tayag, and Rebecca Plaza-Ti. They continually push the boundaries of design while imparting their knowledge to others.

Transforming the Future of Architecture through Education and Innovation

Buensalido’s role in innovation shines through her firm’s experimental and context-driven design approach, constantly seeking new ways to marry tradition with innovation. Her dedication to education is evident in her involvement in various aspects of architectural endeavor. From mentoring young architects to engaging with communities, she fosters a deeper understanding of design’s impact.

Tayag’s passion for architectural lighting design exemplifies innovation, as she continually explores new techniques and technologies to enhance spatial experiences. As the Dean of the College of Architecture and Design at Enderun Colleges, she plays a crucial role in shaping the next generation of architects, instilling in them a commitment to creativity, collaboration, and lifelong learning.

Plaza-Ti’s commitment to innovation is reflected in her firm’s focus on social architecture, creating inclusive and barrier-free environments that prioritize human-centric design. Through her advocacy efforts and leadership roles, she actively promotes the importance of education in architecture. She inspires others to embrace innovation and push the boundaries of design to create meaningful impact in communities.

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Collectively, Buensalido, Tayag, and Plaza-Ti exemplify how innovation and education are integral to their professional success. Both are essential for shaping a more sustainable, inclusive, and impactful future in architecture.

Related Read: Meloy Casas and Bong Recio: A Powerful Partnership Leading the PIA

Project Credits

Text: Rick Formalejo
Photographer: Kieran Punay of KliQ Inc.
Videographer: Excel Panlaque of KliQ Inc.
Video Editor: Brylle Joseph Sarmiento
Sittings Editor: Arch. Geewel Fuster
Creative Direction: Jehd Francisco
Art Director: Marc Yellow
Makeup Artist: Cats Del Rosario
Hairstylist: Marj Cabarrios
Stylist:  Siya Daryani and Roshni Mirpuri
Shoot coordination: Mae Talaid
Shot on location: Casa Bella Home and Living Showroom.
Wardrobe from The Closet Culture and Homme et Femme

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