The built environment must respond to existing challenges to determine the future says UAP Dubai President

Vasquez is keen to build on initiatives launched earlier, in addition to ensuring that UAP members are fully informed about technology that is disrupting the discipline

On 1 July, Christian Vasquez assumed the role of President of United Architects of the Philippines Dubai. During a recent sit down with Middle East Construction News (MECN), he said that the built environment must respond to existing challenges appropriately to determine the future.

“In today’s uncertain times, now more than ever, we must envision the future of our profession and the health of our built environment by addressing its most profound challenges. We will determine our own future by how thoughtfully we respond to those challenges. For these reasons, I have established the 2022-2023 fiscal year’s theme: Skip Forward to the Future,” he says.

Outlining three of his key goals for the year ahead, he explains, “Elevating public awareness in promoting and protecting the profession; continuing education; adapting and adhering to new technology is the best way to thrive in a challenging future are priorities.”

He notes that education is a must. “We recognise that continuing education in architecture is crucial to advancing and improving the profession – architects need continuing education to maintain competency to be globally competitive and game-changers in our industry. As the President of UAP Dubai, I will be tasked with overseeing the overall development and welfare of Filipino architects in Dubai.”

“In this fiscal year, I’m looking forward to a resurgent economy, a stronger and greener Chapter recognised for its intellectual, practical, and imaginative leaders,” he points out.

Vasquez has previously led the UAP Dubai Chapter. Speaking to MECN in June 2022, he said that the global organisation has over 60,000 members within the Philippines and abroad, and over 600 registered and licensed architects in Dubai alone. Vasquez is a Business Development Executive and Project Architect at National Engineering Bureau (NEB).

Pressed about what some of the key issues affecting the architecture discipline in the region and his plans to address them, he responds, “Navigating the transition of architects into today’s digital age; Gen Z is about to enters the world of architecture, and there appears to be a growing gap between them and the previous generations of architects. Architects of all ages must find a common ground and everyone must work hard to bridge the generation gap and learn from one another.”

“New architects can bring fresh skills to the table, particularly in relation to technology and wiser generation of architects must accept the fact that what they did 10 – 20 years ago may not be relevant today and in the coming years. UAP Dubai creates and expand the sharing of knowledge and expertise to ensure a prosperous future for the Filipino architects to become a more valued, relevant global Filipino architects in the middle east and around the world.”

During his previous tenure leading UAP Dubai, he notes that the ‘Global Filipino Architects’ initiative was launched in 2018 in an effort to rally the architecture and Filipino community during the economic downturn. He remarks, “Filipino architects engage in programs focused on the series’ core topics: job skills development, presentation skills development and personality development.”

Shifting gears to technology that is affecting and/or disrupting the architecture discipline and the opportunities and challenges he sees, Vasquez explains, “The rise of the digital economy, NFTs, Blockchain and Metaverse. It will be better for us to help define this new digital world than to ignore it. It’s happening, and it’s up to us to decide how we want to participate.”

“The discussion about the role of architects in connecting the physical and virtual worlds has only just begun and will keep evolving as it develops. Architects must embrace the opportunity than to be skeptical or frighten by it,” he continues.

In June, Ali Sajwani, General Manager – Operations at DAMAC and CEO of D-Labs shared his thoughts on the Metaverse with MECN. In July, Lori Hufford, VP of Application Integration at Bentley Systems shared her thoughts on the intersection of digital twins, the Metaverse, and the physical world with MECN.

“It is also our advocacy to showcase Global Filipino Architect’s talent using the latest technologies and we saw the opportunity in Web3, with the rising interest on NFTs or Non-Fungible Tokens, which are unique and secured by blockchain technology. NFT is anything unique made digital through blockchain technology which are used by brands, arts, real-estate, gaming and the Metaverse, awards etc. With this we decided to formulate a series of seminars that are geared towards providing the necessary tools for our members to maximise and created a Global Filipino Architect NFT collection to jump start their journey.”

In terms of his plans with regards to the events that UAP Dubai will host in the coming year, Vasquez is quick to point out that committee programs continue to be the lifeblood of the UAP Dubai. “These programs bring a wide range of expertise and intellectual content to the Centre.”

He elaborates, “UAP Dubai will kick off the new fiscal year with a townhall meeting. It’s a great time for us to provide updates on what’s happening around the industry and where we are headed with the theme: Future-Proofing the Profession.”

In addition, UAP Dubai will host:

  • The Upcoming Realm of Architects Talk series, which will be focusing on embracing new technologies such as the Metaverse, NFTs and Blockchain technology. Alternatively, talks that focus on new design developments, sustainability, building materials and construction methods will still be visible throughout the whole fiscal year
  • The Pitch Deck series – whether you’re seeking partnership or approval for your idea, a pitch deck event is perfect for our members to present and market their companies and what they do
  • The Architects Meet-up series – in today’s world, networking is a necessity. With over 600 members from 500 different companies surely it will be beneficial to our members and their companies
  • Design Summit 2023 – a collaboration between the American Institute of Architects Middle East and the United Architects of the Philippines for the 1st time
  • UAP Dubai Awards 2023 – recognizing the excellent and design work from our members and their design firms, it is a source of inspiration and pride

In June, Middle East Consultant hosted the second edition of its Future of Architecture Summit. Read about the summit and watch its sessions here.

Big Project Middle East’s Digital Construction Summit is scheduled to take place on 14 September in Dubai, while the recently launched ME Digital Construction Awards will take place on 25 October.

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