DLS - CSB - School Of Design And Arts (Courtesy: DLSCSB Website)

When it was my first time to enter the School of Design and Arts, the feeling of unending ethereality was the only thing present: entering and walking inside, knowing it will be my school for years while in college. It was a simple recap of the “ultimate sublime” in appreciating what my eyes saw, looking up to designs I wish I could do after decades of experience and learning the process of design itself; however, while the different dimensions is moving continuously during my stay in the said building, I started questioning myself: is the structure really standing with its architectural integrity or am I just “getting used to it”?

 After a few months of mentorship and learning the status of knowing what is beyond the level of mediocrity, I slowly felt that the structure itself is standing with pure artistic and technological presence in terms of aesthetics. As a current arts student, classrooms were noticeably distorted and beyond the expectation of an average audience. The distortion of each room bugged me in knowing what was really its function; but I believe that the desired form changes were actually for acoustics and amplifying the speaker’s voice through the resonance, which will help in bouncing the wave of sounds on the concave sides of the walls. The rooms were designed as blank canvasses with post – modern patterns but usual principles of amplification and natural ambient lighting.

SDA Corridors (Courtesy: Yahoo Images)

The unusual aberration may be an aid also to the transmission of wired and wireless signals such as Wifi and the other analog components. These distorted cubes are elements of the structure wanting to procure imaginations from every student who will go in: they demand us to think what is really inside and challenge our capabilities about art if the college building is really utilitarian or just a plain artistic sketch. Interior wise, the rooms are good for twenty students to thirty at its max and voice can be compensated easily because of god acoustics. The natural lighting however, which comes from the left wall of most rooms when you are inside, is not proficiently built. The whole left side of each room is built with glass pivot – window panels without tint and are not covered with materials that should lessen the intensity of light passing through the windows; because of this, the projected screen placed in front of the class is not clearly seen by its set of audience due to the intense light going in whenever there are presentations and lectures by the educators or the students themselves. The projection on the screen can only be seen clearly with full – rendered accurate colors during gloomy days or daily, every time beyond four in the afternoon. Each classroom has its own knot of oversized elongated, black – painted tables enough for five students each. In my opinion, having larger set of furniture was a good approach to express that designs were actually specialized to be useful for the consumers/students inside. The tables were lofty and was seemingly ostentatious because of their dark – rendered surfaces that were out of the context to the whiteness of the rooms; however, the formed contrast of two opposite hues gave the life to the room itself that background and sides were painted light while the utilities are dark – colored. Rolling, computer chrome – pated stools with covered black synthetic leather foam were adequate for each table. The selection of standard, economical stools in each room at the Architecture floor and other design levels were suited, though they look cheap and average while the plastic back rest desks on the other floors are the same in terms of presentation. The quality of the interior was just above the average line: it was not the most excellent in terms of aesthetics but was still designed with discipline and maturity; even the project is constricted to be used for art students.

SDA - 9th Floor, Corridor (Courtesy: Google.com/images)

Calma’s repetitive use of lines in the extraneous sides of the building formed an impression of its techno, post – modern, anti – contextual emplacement. The enormous futuristic structure in the middle of Manila slums was an extreme disrespect to its neighboring appearances of each house: it was plainly a confection of inspiration and arrogance; in accordance to this, I can say that I LIKE the building because of being of the context. According to Nietzsche’s philosophical outlook of “Will To Power” and the “Death Of God”, he explains that for one to have a completely outrageous and symbolical presentations, one must adhere to himself of becoming “Existent” against his surroundings. He shouldn’t care of what others might think, whether it is light or dark, because beauty is never an objective thought. It should survive and adapt what is being thrown to it.

Being outside the expected aesthetics was Calma’s success – he didn’t think of the slums nor the primitivism of the vicinity and at first, people never really wanted the building as a symbol for education because it didn’t have respect for the elements around it; but like Nietzsche said, “God Is Dead” and so the designer’s plans were never followed accordingly to the current structures built back then. The philosophy of existentialism under the statements of Nietzsche fits the School Of Design And Arts: it transcends to a whole new level of complexity because it endures for its own and lets itself stand out through its “Will To Power”. From Calma’s presentation of the structure, it remained controversial; there is a widespread disagreement about their interpretation and significance but as Nietzsche said: “Become no longer ashamed of your uniqueness in the face of a supposed morality, become what you are.” – and so the college building become the lift of inspiration for the following design of structures in the Vito Cruz, Taft vicinity area.  What the architect did, having the structure’s will then survived and adapted what was precedent. It embarked to speculations and certain contradictions; however, the struggle to survive made a drive for evolution that centered itself to ignore even nature itself. Certainly, the desire of this college building for the expansion of its power was then claimed.

The School Of Design And Arts was both mathematically and dynamically inclined of sublimity: enduring with nobility with efficient incentives and forces of personality. The “Ultimate beauty” was from the “tension” it casted against the streaming laws in design during the time it was nearly finished with evident of being a post – modern and a “deconstructivist”. It was ahead of its time even we think that objects are neutral (Reid), but it became beautiful for the ignorant Filipino minds who pass by the façade of the building. The structure is currently standing with veneration among the others around it; however, it is not pure in terms of daintiness. I don’t like the interiors of the building because of its mediocrity; but, these interior properties created the external details of the building, which made spaces that, are decent and unimaginable. I can speculate that the corridor of the building with repetitive glass panels is a revised plan: the original plan for the corridors is to be open and should be built as “balcony type” walkways because there is a provided drainage system in these parts.

From my deconstruction, the concurrent execution of lines represents the slums of Manila surrounding the building, while the shape of the amphitheater is a portrayal of the “Jump to Modernism”. For me, it is a shuttle being filled with a multitude of people wanting to reach the skies of modernism. The cantilever represents the boundaries being set in the current issue of the area: People inside the “Shuttle/Spaceship” are the people who wants to fly and set themselves apart from the ground of ignorance and poverty. These cantilevers and distortions of the external features of the structure tell us that this is the School Of Design And Arts: we provide prestigious, latest and high quality of education that is from different ideas and sources. We are the school that is built unimaginably and beyond the expectations of the current arts present in the country.   From these visuals and speculations, the De La Salle, College of Saint Benilde – School of Design and Arts will remain misunderstood until its environment follow what it tried to implement, visually and atmospherically.

The structure is constructed with pure Architectural integrity and a mix of “controlled Pragmatism”: it suffices what the users need inside and gives them the utilities without pressuring the stress levels of each consumer. The exterior is superior in terms of engineering, architectural design and concept: even it is anti – contextual, the tension it made from its current environment was the cause of the endless sublimity that it presents to its audience. It always creates a mood that the building is symbolical and filled with imaginative theories from powerful artists. In my opinion, the project is more of being representational and symbolic rather than being a literal piece of art: it is a definition even it a contradiction to the lives of its palisades.

De La Salle, College Of Saint Benilde - School Of Design And Arts (Courtesy: Google Images)

It is enveloped completely with empowering symbols of the future Manila; question is: “Will it forever be anti – contextual?”