A heritage architect and architecture professor shared stories of failure or mistakes in heritage preservation amidst modernization and evolution of cities, during an online session of Grupo Kalinangan’s Pamana Talks for the National Heritage Month on May 23, 2020.

During the online session, Architect Manolo Noche of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) College of Architecture enumerated the factors that affect how built heritage evolve: time, usage or function, ownership, and style or taste.

On the factor of time, Ar. Noche explained that heritage properties encounter structural changes or additions over time, which may or may not be tasteful, depending on the style and function. He cited as an example the canopies that were added to the façade of many colonial-era churches all over the country, which now function as porte-cocheres; however, this had led to the change in function of a church façade as an outside retablo for parishioners passing in front of the church.

Meanwhile, Ar. Noche also explained that change in the usage or function of a structure may lead to a major transformation to the appearance of a building. This was the case for the old gymnasium of UST, of which only a small portion of the structure was retained when the building site was used for an alumni center.

For many cases, it is change in ownership that leads to major changes in the design of a building applied by either the new owner or a new architect for various reasons. Ar. Noche also mentioned transplantation, a recent trend in which heritage properties are taken from their original sites and transferred to a new site, such as the Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar resort in Bagac, Bataan.

Finally, Ar. Noche explained that emerging trends in architectural style, as well as the evolution of technology, lead to changes in heritage structures. He cited as an example the addition of a modern-style dome to the old Department of Tourism building in Rizal Park, Manila, when it was transformed into the National Museum of Natural History.

In closing, Ar. Noche said that, while changes are inevitable, one has to remain sensitive and respectful to history embodied by a structure. One also has to make an effort to keep heritage structures relevant in the evolving world.

To view the recording of this Pamana Talks session, click here.