Architecture Schools and Programs in Philippines

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Architecture Studies in Philippines

The Philippines is a uniquely fascinating place to study architecture, due to the vast range of different architectural influences that can be seen throughout the country. Over its long history, this island chain has seen the coming and going of countless different cultures – Indian, Chinese, Islamic, Japanese, Spanish, and, recently, American. In addition, the indigenous architecture of these islands, which consists of unique thatched-roofed huts hoisted up on stilts to keep them dry, continues to exert a strong influence even on modern-day architects in the Philippines.

Although the Indians, Arabian traders, and people from the East China Sea (Japan, China, Korea) have been coming to the Philippines for many centuries, most did not stay long enough to build any elaborate or ornate structures. Thus, unlike in nearby Indonesia or Southeast Asia, there are no ancient Hindu or Buddhist temples to be found in the Philippines. However, the Asian cultural influences can still be seen on later architecture. Take, for example, the Fuerza de Santigo (Moog ng Santiago), one of the most important historical and architectural sites in the country. Located in the center of Manila, the Fuerza was built by Spanish colonizers in 1570, yet it looks remarkably different from Spanish forts of a similar period found in Latin America or indeed in the Spanish homeland. Its ornate front gate is reminiscent in many ways of the architecture found in pre-colonial Indonesia, a testament to the power of cultural memory in this diverse island nation. Since World War II, when many old buildings were destroyed, Philippine architecture took a decided turn toward the modern and avant-garde.

One striking example is the Cultural Center of the Philippines (Sentrong Pangkultura ng Philipinas) in Pasay City. First unveiled in 2003, this massive complex is still under construction, but its incredible architecture can already be seen. At its front is the huge cantilevered façade of the National Theater (Tanghalang Pambansa), which bears more resemblance to the Prairie Style of the American Midwest than to any indigenous Asian style. Inside, however, the center has an organic, curvilinear feel that is quite unique – indeed, some have said that it bears more resemblance to a well-lit sandstone cave than a work of human architecture.

These remarkable architectural achievements constitute one of the main reasons why people outside the Philippines come to this quiet island nation to study architecture. Today, studying architecture in the Philippines appeals to many people in the South Pacific because this country has a low cost of living, high educational standards, and (outside of some sectarian violence in the more remote southern islands) remarkable safety and stability. And, of course, the diverse cultural heritage of the Filipino people enables people from all over the world to feel right at home as the join the long list of travelers who have stopped over on the Philippine Islands throughout the ages.

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