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Roanna Reyes (Architect)

What Comes To Mind When You Hear The Word 'Life'?

Life for me is experience and continuous discovery. Experiencing the world, your surroundings with all your senses.

Life is a system of processes, self sustenance, growth, feeling, learning.

Life is painful, exhilarating.

What Do You Think Your Purpose Is?

My motivation, my purpose is to provide for my children as well as to always keep myself and my loved ones happy…it’s a challenging purpose but that’s what I aim for everyday, every second.

I started my architecture firm because I wanted to create structures, to express my creativity, make my drawings, my designs come to life – this makes me fulfilled, purposeful.

These are the elements that connect to achieve my purpose.

What inspired you to be an architect?

Besides my parents being both architects, both being a big part of my career inspiration- I always loved to draw, to sketch and doodle and to dream, to visualize.

I would sit beside my dad whenever he worked and drafted on his big architectural drafting table, I would watch him draw those lines, the trees, the structure itself, the people, the pen strokes, the colors he used, I was mesmerized.

My mom was a professor, she was the first female dean of the College of Architecture and Fine Arts in the University of Santo Tomas, she taught me how to be resilient in a then male-dominated profession, to be strong and to always know my worth and never to give up.

The strength, the passion from my parents, and the creativity - this never-ending thirst for conception- guided me to my chosen profession.

Today, I am continually inspired, motivated. It’s a feeling of wanting to explode. There are some days where I wouldn’t know what to do when I have all these ideas running in my brain, I couldn’t even draw because there’s just too much.

I clean my house, organize my closets, walk outside, meditate, drink wine… then when my thoughts are calm, I write, I draw, I sketch… I believe that when there is no chaos around you, that is when you can think clearly.

Do you consider your designs as a parallel universe or do you try to stay grounded in your own reality?

That is what I love about design. You can start conceptualizing from nothing to everything to anything. Of course, we need to come back down from our flying imaginations when we need to put our design on paper.

I always consider my clients’ requirements, opinions, budget and concerns. Architecture, design, is not just about conceptualizing something, it is problem solving, learning how to articulate the space you are creating into the built and natural environment, it is a process.

Therefore my designs are not entirely as a parallel universe or dimension but there is a part of my alternate reality that I share, the part of my DNA that I provide with a touch of imagination.

What do you think of Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead?

I believe that book isn’t just about the architecture world but about pride, ownership, stubbornness and at the same time integrity. Comparing the characters, the protagonist against all the other men in the story shows how the world then and now perceives success.

It’s heartbreaking, really. I think about it all the time… what does it take for people with integrity - honest, good hearted business people to succeed? Do we need to play the game of pretentiousness in order to get up there?

The book, of course, shows us how we fight for what we believe in, our “style”, our designs when the world does not understand your creation. But in the end, someday, one day, you will build that skyscraper.

Is It Possible For A Human To Fathom The True Depths Of Reality And Existence?

I believe one can never truly understand how life is supposed to work. How reality and existence function. It’s trying to answer the question – What is life? There is no right or wrong answer.

Thus, for humans to fully grasp our being in this world - why we do the things we do, why do we wake up in the morning and breathe, what happens when you die – it follows a whole unending number of answers and additional questions.

It’s a web of interconnected fibers of time, experience, science, philosophy and numbness.

In this process of life, we aim to survive.

Do you have a specific creative process when working on a project?

Yes. It varies. But I always start by talking to my clients. I assess. I need to know them, I want to know what their requirements are, their needs, their wants, their personalities, their families, their current home. I also do a site visit whenever I can.

I want to see the property, the lot, the location, the surroundings, it is better to feel and experience the current situation before you start something.

After which, sometimes, designs just hit me and I can start the conceptual drawings right away. Sometimes, I need inspiration. I read magazines or skim through a book, I watch a documentary, I walk outside, stay on my balcony and just visualize shapes, forms.

I want my designs to be customized for each and every client, to have a purpose. I want the users to experience something, to feel something when they visit the space.

I also want my users, my clients to know who I am so we create a partnership and maintain our relationship. Your clients need to trust you when you’re a designer. So that is also part of the process.

Did You Experience Failures? If So, What Did You Learn From Them?

Of course. From a failure - I get up, assess what happened and learn from my mistakes.

Sometimes, I would realize that it was not just a good fit and I always try to think positive that the universe just saved me from a bigger problem, so I am grateful for that failure.

What do I learn from failures? To accept them as hurdles, bumps, a way of seeing things on a positive note. Do I get upset? Hell yes. But I do my best to be aware of my feelings, of the situation and I am lucky to have a great support system as well, so I stand back up and try again.

What do you want your legacy to be?

I want to leave my children a legacy of kindness, respect and integrity. I want them to understand that their mom never gave up and to remember me as a person who created wonderful, astonishing and remarkable structures, designs for people to experience.

I want to leave a legacy to the community through designing an ecological village in my home country, the Philippines, showcasing vernacular and sustainable materials, my way of giving back to my roots.

I also want to design a house in which my client will give me the trust and freedom to create such an outstanding piece of art, inside and out, for me to express my boundless ideas of transforming space.


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