Anna Sy

Sound So­phis­ti­ca­tion

Red Magazine - - Contents - BY MARA MIANO PHO­TOG­RA­PHY SARA BLACK STYLING RIA PRI­ETO IL­LUS­TRA­TIONS STEPH BRAVO MAKEUP STEVEN DOLOSO HAIR RJ DELA CRUZ

‘ ONCE A STRONG AR­CHI­TEC­TURAL IDEA IS FORMED, I CON­SCIOUSLY TRY TO CARRY IT THROUGH — EVEN DOWN TO THE DE­TAILS. I TRY TO DE­SIGN WITH RE­STRAINT AND DELETE SU­PER­FLU­OUS GES­TURES AND ELE­MENTS THAT DE­TRACT FROM THE MAIN IDEA.’

“I don't feel that ar­chi­tec­ture is a ‘ man's job,' it's just been dom­i­nated by men due to so­cial conditioning that molds women from a young age to grav­i­tate to­wards other fields," ex­plains Anna Sy, a li­censed ar­chi­tect in the US and co-founder of the award-win­ning global firm CS Ar­chi­tec­ture. “I'd imag­ine that the ra­tio of women to men in ar­chi­tec­ture schools has risen through the years. This must be the same for other fields tra­di­tion­ally dom­i­nated by men." She is right, at least in the case of the Philip­pines. A no­table re­port was re­leased by the World Bank ear­lier this year: the Philip­pines is a world leader in gen­der equal­ity with its large share of women in high­skilled oc­cu­pa­tions. Cur­rently, more than half of Filipinos in the in­dus­tries of leg­is­la­tion, busi­ness man­age­ment and govern­ment are fe­male.

The re­al­ity of the ar­chi­tec­ture in­dus­try be­ing male-dom­i­nated, how­ever, isn't news to Anna. Af­ter she grad­u­ated from the Har­vard Grad­u­ate School of De­sign, she moved to Los An­ge­les and worked at a firm that was a typ­i­cal “old boys' club," with con­stant ut­ter­ance of sex­ist jokes and com­ments in the of­fice. “It didn't help that the main de­sign part­ner at the time en­cour­aged and fos­tered this at­ti­tude," Anna re­marks. She knew it would have been more ad­van­ta­geous to work with the in­te­rior de­sign group as a woman, but in the ar­chi­tec­ture di­vi­sion, she un­der­stood her place. She was lucky to be placed un­der the wing of a sea­soned and well-re­spected as­so­ciate who did not con­done such ridicu­lous be­hav­ior. “I didn't plan on stay­ing there for­ever, so I sim­ply took in the ex­pe­ri­ence, learned from it and moved on."

Anna be­lieves that fe­male ar­chi­tects tend to be more thor­ough. They think of the specifics of how a space or a piece of fur­ni­ture is used and de­sign it with the user in mind. “I think of con­text and re­la­tion­ship to the site first and fore­most," tells Anna of her de­sign phi­los­o­phy. “I love lay­outs and spa­ces that con­nect seam­lessly to the out­doors, [with] abun­dant light and ven­ti­la­tion that liven and com­plete the ex­pe­ri­ence." She aims for “a quiet ar­chi­tec­ture" whose drama is sub­tle but pro­gres­sively un­folds. “Once a strong ar­chi­tec­tural idea or di­a­gram is formed, I con­sciously try to carry it through even down to the de­tails. I try to de­sign with re­straint and delete su­per­flu­ous

ges­tures and ele­ments that de­tract from the main idea." Grow­ing up, Anna al­ways loved look­ing at ar­chi­tec­ture, es­pe­cially res­i­den­tial homes. CS Ar­chi­tec­ture's port­fo­lio fea­tures ex­quis­ite res­i­dences, both here and abroad, that ev­i­dently projects her style of non­cha­lantly con­nect­ing the house to the out­doors, cre­at­ing a space where the en­vi­ron­ment is as sig­nif­i­cant as the build­ing it­self, whether the house is in the city or by the sea.

It was only in col­lege that she de­cided to se­ri­ously pur­sue ar­chi­tec­ture, thanks to the highly re­garded pro­gram at Columbia Univer­sity. Be­fore that, she con­sid­ered go­ing into in­dus­trial de­sign, set­ting up a home decor store and be­ing a fash­ion buyer. “My par­ents didn't know much about the ar­chi­tec­tural pro­fes­sion, but were sup­port­ive of my ca­reer path," Anna re­calls. “My dad was a banker all his life, and my mom, be­ing more tra­di­tional, per­haps pre­ferred that I set­tle down early."

She is thank­ful to her par­ents for a won­der­ful child­hood, when they were well-ex­posed through fre­quent fam­ily trav­els and mov­ing around. They moved to Hong Kong when Anna was six, and then moved to Tokyo af­ter­wards. She moved to the US for col­lege and a few years of prac­tice. She is cur­rently based in Manila as a de­sign con­sul­tant. “I've al­ways en­joyed build­ing things with my hands, first with Lego as a child, and later on, build­ing count­less mod­els of my de­sign projects," shares Anna, who adds that it was frus­trat­ing to grow up at a time when toy stores only car­ried model kits for planes or cars, with no al­ter­na­tives for girls who liked to build as well. “My mom re­fused to buy me any toy that was specif­i­cally for boys. I was limited to Lego and thou­sand­piece jig­saw puzzles for many years," she re­calls. “Sadly, I don't think the in­dus­try has changed much since then, where the ab­sence of de­vel­op­men­tal toys that en­cour­age three-di­men­sional build­ing skills for girls is high­lighted."

Anna be­lieves that in any case, unequal op­por­tu­nity should never be a de­ter­rent for any woman. Quiet and re­served, it is sur­pris­ing how Anna deals with ad­ver­sity. “I try not to dwell on things that don't go well. I solve the prob­lem and move on. I learned this from my dad, but I am still not as good in han­dling ad­ver­sity as he is," she ad­mits. “What is im­por­tant is that you work hard and be­have pro­fes­sion­ally, that th­ese over­come what­ever gen­der bias or pre­con­cep­tions that other

Dress, Her­mès,

Green­belt 3

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Philippines

© PressReader. All rights reserved.