The Beginnings of a new firm: GK Rustia

  • April 20, 2021

  • Written by Shan Arcega

  • Photos courtesy of GK Rustia

Every architecture firm started out from either the power of prayer or manifestation. GK Rustia seemed to have bloomed from both.

GK Rustia is a new architectural practice born from the prayers of two aspiring business owners looking to start their first groundbreaking project. After giving birth to her daughter, the thought of establishing GK Rustia finally bloomed from architect Katherine Reyes’ mind. Though the firm only began in 2016, and was a fresh face in the industry, architects Katherine Reyes and Gino Rustia were met with their first project. Costing up to 8 million, it was almost an unexpected gift to the duo who were quite skeptical of gaining new clients after just praying for a sign to start up their new firm. Soon after, more opportunities came after this project.

“Luckily, people were trusting my team,” says CEO and architect Katherine Reyes. “Every three months, we had new residential projects. It was groundbreaking.” 

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Prior to GK Rustia, architect Katherine Reyes started off as a junior architect at Jorge Yulo Architects and Associates. “I was inspired by how hands-on he [Jorge Yulo] was with all of his designs: His passion for details, his love for the art, and how he explains his design to us. I worked in his firm for two years.”

Of course, owning a start-up wasn’t easy. Talent and skill get us to high points where we can enjoy the stunning views and breathe in new air, but with this scenic view comes new challenges that force us up to an even higher point. “I told myself, ‘we must start as a company the right way.’ We got business permits and PCAB. The company was run by me as the designer, accounts, payroll, and HR, while Gino was the one in charge of site and all the construction management.” 

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On top of the desk and basic office work, Reyes also juggled designs, renders, walk-through perspectives, and even presentations. “I rarely sleep on weekdays,” Reyes says good-naturedly. “I was only able to sleep in the car on the way to a presentation. Drive-thrus for breakfast, lunch, and dinner was also the best option to save time.”

Despite these hardships, GK Rustia has become a firm with many beautiful contemporary and minimalist projects in its portfolio. Aside from the clean and crisp styles, GK Rustia trademarks its homes with louvres and roof designs, and a practice of putting the client’s needs and wants at the forefront of each project.

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The most important aspect in design is not just its pleasing facade and flow of spaces. But for us, it’s more of the users. The client,” Architect Reyes says. “Not all design is applicable for all. We usually try to get to know the client first. Their hobbies, how they do their daily life, the owners of each room. Sometimes, we architects design what we know, what we studied, what we researched. We tend to forget about the users of each area.”

House on A Cliff, in particular, is one of their newest projects. 

“This house is for them,” says architect Reyes. “My family was its inspiration. I realized it’s actually hard to design for oneself rather than designing for other clients. There were a lot of revisions. The design was actually a design done with Gino, the kids, and our bunso.” 

A joint design by architects Reyes and Rustia, it is the family’s own residence and was built to be a home where architect Reyes’ family of seven could relax and bond.

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“My favorite part of the house is the living room with a seven-meter high ceiling with five-meter high sliding doors that open to the Koi pond at the front. There is also a part of the living room where we can see a part of the master bedroom with a louvre design.”  

GK Rustia has many more projects to complete and hand over soon. These include the two-story Bulacan residence with a view, a three-story Antopolo residence, and a commercial building in Valenzuela exuding a Renaissance revival style.

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