Moderator Denise de Castro and panelists Sylvester Seño, Maricel Modesto, and Elita Nuraeny with the student audience of Anthology RAW: Parametric vs Hand last February 8, 2020.


Lessons from Anthology: Never forget the basics of architecture

Parametric vs Hand Anthology RAW emphasized that technology will not be detrimental if the design process remains traditional

  • February 27, 2020

  • Written by Gabrielle de la Cruz

  • Images courtesy of Anthology Festival 2020

What is notable about all the Anthology 2020 RAW sessions is the fact that the discussion all harks back to the basics of architecture. All Anthology RAW sessions turned out to be more than just debates. The moderators and panelists always end up weighing the pros and cons of each stance, finding a way to convince the audience that the two contrasting sides are actually both necessary in the realm of design. 

In this Parametric vs. Hand discourse, moderator Denise de Castro, principal architect of DEQA Design Collaborative; Arch. Sylvester Seño, Dean of the College of Architecture, Adamson University; Elita Nuraeny, Assistant Lecturer at the University of Indonesia; and professor Maricel Modesto from the BS Architecture program of Samar State University concluded that traditional and digital methods in design production are not separate, but co-related. 

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“It all starts with your drawing” 

With the majority of the audience being students, Elita Nuraeny dutifully advised them, “Start with hand drawing before you explore other skills. I believe the concept is the first step in design.” Maricel Modesto supported Nuraeny’s advice and said that all ideas can be manifested first in hand drawing. She stressed that students should always keep in mind that architecture is a skill of both thinking and doing, that programming and other innovations can help in data processing, but the actual outcome is always conceived and born out of creativity. 

Sylvester Seño calls the initial sketch as the “unseen idea.” He added that in the real world, what clients actually buy from you is your sketch. This led the conversation on how the traditional design process helps people develop interpersonal relationships. “Being more personal and sharing our very first ideas actually help us develop more empathy for who we’re designing for,” said moderator Denise de Castro. With this, the panel members agreed that like any other profession, architecture is better when at its most basic. 

Arch. Sylvester Seño: “It is while drawing that you will be able to visualize. You can ask yourself: do we really need to allot this small space, do the clients really need this corner?”
Elita Nuraeny: “I think one problem that we also need to address is that students are just taught how to draw, they are not taught why they need to draw.”

“Parametric methods are more of supplementary steps”

The counterpoint of focusing on the basics of architecture is that we may be missing out on many other options that technology presents to us. It is crucial to have machines that will speed up work and increase production. 

For the architecture industry, parametric methods help in solving the difficulties that designers face. Improved techniques aid in providing more accurate measurements, calculations, and data analysis⁠—some things that cannot be done in plain sketching. “It’s exciting because we are not constricted to a single method,” said Nuraeny.

The panel members discussed that the boundary by which technology becomes part of the design process is when one has already mastered the art of drawing, not before or in between. They reiterated that architecture can never stand on technology alone because there was architecture before technology was discovered, that architecture existed even before it became a practice. However, they furthered that even though some technologies can be difficult to use and too expensive to buy, to be familiar with such creates an added value in knowing the technical side of the profession. “Design is fluid, what is in today might not be in tomorrow. The important thing is to keep in mind that it is actually a process, not a product,” said Seño. 

“We can maximize these technologies, but at the end of the day, we must never forget the basics of architecture. They’re what keeps the practice alive,” ends moderator Denise de Castro.

“Enjoy the best of both worlds”

Towards the end of the conversation, de Castro said that it is not just about which medium should be practiced more, but about how these mediums contribute to the entire design process. The panel members advised the students: “harness your skills in drawing then expand your knowledge on parametric.” However firm they were on this advice, they discussed to the students that they can always play with their options because the best option will always come out later on. Parametric vs Hand reminded the audience that like any profession, the general idea in architecture is to always trace the very first tracks even while venturing into other methods.

The initial argument was that we cannot get things built if we keep on using the same things. The new stand is that we can keep building as long as we stick to the basics of architecture. 

READ MORE: Lessons from Anthology: Architecture is not just about visual and functionality

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