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Architecture students place third in Alterchitecture 2017

Malayan Colleges Laguna’s (MCL) Architecture students Mac Kenley Jones “KenJo” V. Jucom, Jan Gaebielle “Jana” C. Morales, and Evan Gilbert C. Basila, accompanied by Ar. Paul Eugene A. Ong and Prof. Henry Paz, with their winning concept. Photo from KenJo Jucom.

In today’s world where depression is as prominent as the advancement of technology, mental health has now become more acknowledged by society.

As mental health advocates, Malayan Colleges Laguna’s (MCL) Architecture students Evan Gilbert C. Basila, Mac Kenley Jones “KenJo” V. Jucom, and Jan Gaebielle “Jana” C. Morales showed their support by joining Alterchitecture 2017: An Ideas Competition on Architectural Innovation, a design competition organized by United Architects of the Philippines Student Auxiliary – University of the Philippines Diliman Chapter (UAPSA-UPD).

Though first-timers, the team won 3rd place, competing with almost 100 teams from 14 other Architecture schools.

In line with this year’s theme “Arkitherapy: A Mental Health Outpatient Facility,” their team designed an Outpatient Psychiatric Center for victims of anxiety, depression, chronic stress, and post-traumatic stress disorder, avoiding traits that prompt stress: sharp corners, strong colors, small spaces, areas with minimal sunlight, and loud patterns. They also considered the “biophilia hypothesis,” which suggests that humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature and other forms of life.

“We planned the Center to be edgeless – that is why our concept is based on a water ripple, which can be a symbol for growth, cleansing, thirst quenching, and energy rejuvenating. The form was designed to be undulating, finding no corners and making the patients’ experience dynamic within the interior of the building,” Jana explained.

“In addition, the design was accentuated by large laminated glass windows from the front of the facility, to the view deck, hydrotherapy area, and other activity areas for the patients to feel that they are one with nature.”

The trio achieved this plan through ferrocement construction. This existing innovation is cheap, can resist large seismic loads, and can take up any form, making their structure column-less and with a curving façade.

Knowing that Jana and Evan’s thesis, “Proposed Biophilic Psychiatric Center for Mental Health Disorders,” is aligned with the competition’s theme, their fellow Architecture student Ezekiel Tumbokon sent the competition’s page link to them. They then recruited KenJo to join them since he wasn’t able to participate in a different competition. Together with their other thesis mate, Aiyana Sitjar, they were originally a team of four (4).

MCL representatives during the awarding ceremony. Photo from the Alterchitecture: An Ideas Competition on Architectural Innovation Facebook page.

An advantage owing to their thesis, they were already done with preliminary research and interviews with psychiatrists and professionals concerning psychiatric building typologies. Their encounter with their friends who almost took their lives because of depression had led them to supporting mental health and to prioritizing its victims’ betterment.

KenJo, who personally suffered from anxiety disorder, wished that people would start understanding that mental health is real and important, and that the Philippines would further raise its awareness.

They all hope that as architecture evolves it would be used to focus more on specific mental health disorders and cater to their victims, and “to make the public more aware of mental health by engaging them with the patients and eventually ending the stigma.”

First held in 2010, Alterchitecture is an annual nationwide ideas competition that gathers students and young designers in hopes of bringing forth innovation and social relevance within the field of architecture.

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