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VIA Architecture + Design: Empowering Spaces with Nature's Palette and Unity of Humanity

Women only started getting senior positions and becoming recognized well into the very late 20th century, with expectations vastly different from men. However, this didn’t stop Ar. Monique Loise Chiong of VIA Architecture + Design (VIA A+D) to make her own step into the industry.

VIA Architecture + Design (A+D)/ Ar. Monique Loise Chiong, Ar. Prime Daryl Deliman and Ar. Keisha Alexis Plaza
VIA Architecture + Design (A+D)/ Ar. Monique Loise Chiong, Ar. Prime Daryl Deliman and Ar. Keisha Alexis Plaza

Homing in on the core values of authenticity, adaptability, and accessibility - with two of her partners, Ar. Keisha Plaza and Ar. Prime Deliman - VIA A+D is a multidisciplinary design group with over 20 years of combined experience and work portfolios. Through creative workflow management and streamlined design process, they deliver responsive and responsible outputs with stakeholder engagement as their core purpose. Research, design development, and critical collaboration are their key platforms to refine and uphold architecture and design as honest, as approachable, and as flexible as they can be.

“My natural fit to be in writing, criticism, operations, and project management, complement my two partners at VIA Architecture + Design, Ar. Keisha and Ar. Prime, as we believe in the value and idea that furthering our architecture should be a coherent system with distinct parts to make a whole – instead of overlapping similar forces that create architecture.” Says Ar. Monique.

VIA A+D aspires to uphold the human experience and celebrate the virtue of collaboration and communication between designers and stakeholders.

They exemplify these design principles through their highlighted projects, MaxiLife Headquarters and Baha’i Center Cebu.

MaxiLife Headquarters

VIA Architecture + Design - MaxiLIFE Headquarters
VIA Architecture + Design - MaxiLIFE Headquarters

The MaxiLife Headquarters is located in NCR, Philippines. Its conception in 2022 is a notable one as it will be the first office for the new insurance company, VIA A+D understands that the spaces must have a critical impact since it is MaxiLife’s opportunity to present itself to the market.

Premium. Forward-Thinking. Fun. These were the three pegs decided together to arrive at neutral colors, bold accents, and mid-century modern shapes to highlight MaxiLife’s organic and functional lifestyle offers to their existing and new clients while embodying timelessness and reimagining the traditional.

Through the mindful play of forms and textures, pops of color were introduced through furniture and furnishings. This shows the flexibility and diversity of MaxiLife without straying too far away from formality and sophistication through a hierarchy of interior tones and hues.

As coworking spaces are the future of business and work lifestyle, the space configuration is adaptable for hybrid work, celebrating collaboration and championing the people for and with MaxiLife. Modern strip lighting, varied spaces ranging from private to synergistic, purposeful graphics, and choice of colors that represent the brand heighten value alignment, productivity, well-being, and efficiency.

VIA Architecture + Design Baha’i Center Cebu
VIA Architecture + Design - Baha’i Center Cebu

Baha’i Center Cebu

Situated at a modest dead-end of a residential area, the Baha’i Center Cebu is surrounded by trees lush with an ecosystem that’s quite kept to itself. The client requested a complete replacement of the retreat center due to its age and its need to house more community members from all over the world with a communal kitchen.

The continuous relationship between structure and nature answered the need to maintain the sense of spatial spirituality and sacredness.

The gravity of how well this space can function in enhancing the spirit, mind, and soul of the faithful was evident. To handle these delicate and essential needs, VIA A+D Focused on three approaches: the incorporation of symbolism and sacred elements, climate-sensitive tactics and climate-responsive strategies, and proper linkages and circulation between passive and active zones. Through light and shadows, the canopies and masses were created around existing open spaces.

This programming and layout then made their way to breathing spaces where natural cross-ventilation, proper zoning, and user circulation can be achieved -- introducing sensitive green spaces wherever it can and framing the low-lying forms and warm tones of wood. With curated layers of concrete, steel, and latticework, aging is an important effect to be implemented in the design.

Lending colors and the idea of transparency from nature, patterns of light, shadows, and air with the natural red brick clay signify a cohesive mass of tangible and intangible – unity of God, unity of faith, and unity of humanity.

Overall, the proposed Baha’i Center aims to continue the horizontal and vertical dimensions and to maintain the two aspects the faithful hold proper: mankind’s relationship with nature and God, deep ideals, and high hopes for enlightenment.

The general expectations of being a woman are much different from being a man in the architectural scene. On reviewing her roots, Ar. Monique notes that she’s fortunate to be in a family that empowered her early on. She is glad to run an office that celebrates diversity and critical thinking, to have partners that support one another, good clients, teams, and allies, and to be in a country with substantially better gender equality than most.

“There’s still a lot of room for improvement and there’s still a long way to go regarding visibility, opportunity, and equal treatment. There are three ways we can improve from it – an excellent value of work, collective and bipartisan deconstruction of gender biases through systemic and meaningful change, and a competent platform and/or agency to make way for this dialogue. Integration of all can be a leap forward to a safe and confident space for women to work in the design and construction field.” – Ar. Monique Loise Chiong

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