Glasshouse: The "Living Architecture Exhibition" reminds us that an environment worth living in is created with human needs at the center.

In plain sight
Pam Musni (The Philippine Star) - March 9, 2018 - 12:00am

This exhibition highlights the way architecture can be used to create a balance between nature, culture, and technology.

MANILA, Philippines — When we talk about the arts, we usually talk about visual displays, whether it’s a painting, installation, photo, or video art. Every so often, that conversation extends to culinary arts, music, and literature. Most of the time, however, there’s an aspect of art that is often left out, despite being there in plain sight: architecture. Done right, it can merge form and function in ways that make structures both beautiful and living. But how is this possible? And what makes architecture come alive, exactly?

It’s these questions that Artkitektura 2018 seeks to explore. The whole event is centred around the “Living Architecture Exhibition" — only recently presented to the English-speaking world — which maps out the journey and evolution of organic architecture throughout the years. The surroundings we live in, notes the exhibit, is largely made of manmade structures. Much of it poses an influence on the way we live and the natural environment surrounding us. But if a lot of modern infrastructure is taken into account, the impact isn’t necessarily a good one. The exhibit then notes that an environment worth living in is created with human needs at the center— not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually. And most of the time, this also involves taking care of the natural landscape.

Talk of the town: Arkitektura 2018 festival supplemented the exhibition with talks and workshops.

“Living Architecture,” then, highlights the way architecture can be used to create a balance between nature, culture, and technology when creating living environments by citing examples throughout history. You might even spot some familiar names and structures. Presented at the UP Vargas Museum, the exhibit looks into the works of pioneers such as Frank Lloyd Wright (Fallingwater) and Antoni Gaudí (La Sagrada Família), as well as more contemporary makers like Jørn Utzon (Sydney Opera House), and Wilkinson Eyre Architects and Grant Associates (The Gardens by the Bay).

To further the message, the festival supplements the exhibit with various talks and workshops that revolve around its themes, with speakers the likes of Gregory Burgess, Patrick Bellew, and Pieter van der Ree, the exhibit’s curator. For instance, what does a human being need to thrive? And how do you create life-supporting, life-enhancing environments? It’s especially relevant now, when we’ve seen how faulty infrastructure and transportation systems can hinder the way we live instead of elevate it. And with a slew of development projects slated in the upcoming years, it’s a message that needs to be heard now more than ever.

Ultimately, Artkitektura isn’t so much a showcase as it is a way to “plant seeds,” in the words of festival director Sarri Tapales. Whether it’s an idea, a technique, or a nugget of information, there’s something to take away for everyone, architecture student or not. From its three-part structure to its three-year timeline, it’s a festival that aims to gradually impart the need for healthy architectural developments in a rapidly expanding region, all the while showing how architecture can be used to solve unique local issues. By doing so, it hopes to inspire a generation who can perhaps make the dream of green, living cities an actual reality.

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Arkitektura 2018 International Exhibition runs until March 31. For more information, visit

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