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Architecture Dept dialogues with SoFA Institute Dean on ‘Design Pedagogy’

August 30, 2019

A meeting took place between Holy Angel University’s Architecture Department and Architect Tobias Guggenheimer, Dean of the School of Fashion and Arts (SoFA) Design Institute, the country's first specialized design college based in Makati City – for a dialogue on design pedagogy on August 27, 2019 at the university’s SFJ building. Architect Guggenheimer gave his insights on design and architecture education that were based on his extensive experiences as a practicing architect, designer, builder and educator, in the Philippines and abroad.

The discussion focused on the concepts of design values and creativity. According to Ar. Guggenheimer, there are many ways to learn design and it is important for students to look deeper within themselves to bring out their creativity. He recognizes that each student thinks, feels, and expresses differently, and thus, emphasized the educator’s role in the character formation and empowerment of students. He said that it is important to encourage students to be their own selves for them to be able to produce designs that manifest who they really are. He also mentioned a couple of strategies that they employ in SoFA to develop their students’ creativity. He highlighted the supremacy of individual training and the prevention of plagiarism (copying or using other designers’ works as inspiration) as key factors to molding future design leaders. Furthermore, he emphasized the value of the design process and explained how a student’s success or failure should be measured.

Through the dialogue, the faculty members were able to validate some of the best practices of the Department and also identified some points that can be enhanced to further the architecture education being offered. Areas that could still be improved include: 1) the practice of critical evaluation/discourse within bigger groups; 2) the encouragement of more self-directed projects; and, 3) the employment of smaller class sizes (15 for design and design-related courses and 30 for lecture courses) to ensure that a substantial amount of time is provided by the professor to each student. Ar. Guggenheimer also stressed on the significance of training faculty members to be “globally-pertinent” to be equally competent in preparing the students for the “borderless practice”.

The 4-hour meeting with Ar. Guggenheimer was made possible through the efforts of the University President Dr. Luis Maria R. Calingo, whose insights posed a great challenge to the faculty members to provide the best architecture education possible. The attendees of the dialogue include the Department of Architecture Chairperson Ar./EnP. Shalla Gayle B. Billano, faculty members (Ar. Ian M. Billano, Ar. Archival D. Elauria, Ar./EnP. Rachelle S. Morales, Ar. Rameses P. Pineda, Ar. Franz Allan M. Rodriguez and Ar. Justin R. Santos), School of Engineering and Architecture (SEA) Dean Dr. Filipina I. de Guzman, and SEA Associate Dean Engr. Michael Almeida. The dialogue was also graced by the presence of Dr. Alma S. Espartinez (VP for Academic Affairs), and Ms. Edna Marriza C. Santos (Assistant to the President and VP for Institutional Effectiveness).

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