MyProperty sat down with WTA’s principal architect William Ty Jr. to discuss how his firm is designing its way to change the urban landscape
More than just the usual architectural firm, WTA Architecture and Design Studio is designing not just to create, but to achieve results on a much grander scale. Going beyond the structure and the technical aspect of a project, WTA puts emphasis on its relevance and impact to the society.
With almost 10 years in the business, the collaborative company that now has 90 people under its name is undeniably succeeding in their game. MyProperty.ph recently sat down with its principal architect, William T. Ty Jr., to discuss WTA’s one goal: to serve the community and the next generation through socially relevant architecture.
Following its tagline, “Design, Refine and Define,” the firm strives to craft not just buildings and structures but a place that pulsates with life and purpose. WTA design architectural landmarks that are refined and defined according to its future use and its impact to the urbanity of a city.
A notable brainchild of the company that displays their dedication to develop and nurture is The Book Stop Project. “Libraries today are considered old and musty institutions, especially by the younger era. So to revolutionize this monolithic structure, we gave it a fresh look and reintroduced it to the public in an exciting form,” shared by Ty.
The Book Stop Project in Intramuros. Photo via WTA Architecture and Design Studio
“We locate the book stops in public spaces like piazzas and parks to activate them and encourage people to visit. The idea is, if you have so many of these small stops across the city, people will go there instead of coffee shops,” Ty added.
What started as a data-gathering exercise turned out to be a successful public space where people can convene for knowledge and information. The first foray of the pop-up public library in Ayala Triangle and then Intramuros proves that books never go out of fashion. Over 500 visitors come to the stop every day to donate, borrow, or read a book. Even with the advent of technology that spreads content like wildfire, the satisfaction of reading and finishing a book is still incomparable. The success of the book stop attested that places like libraries are better situated in an accessible public space. Now building its second stop, WTA is sure that they can replicate their success and books will be available for more and more Filipinos.
The Book Stop, one of the many contributions of WTA to the society, is also a finalist in the World Architecture Festival in Berlin this November of 2016.
Redefining the future of architecture
“We take pride in what we build. We study the background and the context before we come up with possible designs. Taking into consideration its long-term use, we always ask ourselves what the future of various building types should be. For example, what a library should be in the next century, what a market or a condo should be. That’s how we explore and create,” explained Ty.
One of the recent projects that WTA is working on is the Luxury Flats in San Juan. Trying to veer away from the numerous townhouses that are sprouting everywhere within the area of San Juan, WTA designed a 12-unit condo where owners can have the entire floor to themselves. “We envision it as a secure and private location that offers a generous floor plate, has no stairs, have windows, good views and ventilation from all sides, and amenities that you cannot get from a townhouse,” Ty said.
“Retail spaces will also be conveniently located at the lower floors of the building. This is how we show the alternative way of moving forward,” Ty added.
The Oriental Legazpi in Albay, Bicol. Photo via WTA Architecture and Design Studio
WTA enjoys designing public spaces, which the team considers their forte, and their mall project is a testament to that. For example, their design of a mall—the ultimate hang-out place of everyone—is different and targeted. Instead of designing the look of the retail areas, WTA conceptualize the public space inside that will complement the shops and boutiques surrounding it.
“Another project that I am most proud of is the Oriental Legazpi in Bicol. This magnificent hotel sits atop a hill looking white and glorious overlooking another splendid gem that is Mount Mayon,” Ty shared. Resembling a white castle on a hill, Oriental Legazpi is also a go-to destination for tourists who want to see the beauty of the perfect cone. Likewise, when the volcano erupts, journalists and photographers alike flock to the hotel to capture history.
“Creative enterprises like ours should be based on ideas. Enriched with collaboration and teamwork, we are shaping functional architecture and grow to different stages,” Ty enthused.
Lauded as one of the top ten architectural firms in the Philippines in 2015, WTA is proud that they make and create edifices that are significant and helpful to society.
Design inspiration and influences
As the principal architect, Ty has three major influences in his craft. Top of it is his love for the narrative structure of books and the wealth of information that everyone can get from them. The architect is also motivated and inspired by various renowned cities that he has visited. According to Ty, he walks around amazed at the diverse cities he has been to and observes how they work. He takes note of how each city is different from the other, reviews all of their aspects, and finds something new that he can explore and adapt. Lastly, as a toy collector, his fascination for toys and science fiction also gave him one of his greatest lessons. “Toys and fantasy allow me to imagine different realities and endless possibilities,” Ty ended.
WTA Architecture and Design Studio principal architect, William T. Ty Jr.
Main photo via WTA Architecture and Design Studio