FuturArc Interview

Jan-Feb 2017


Principal, Asian Architects
Chairman, Green Architecture Advocacy Philippines

by Harry Serrano

Mike Guerrero is perhaps one of the most active personalities in the Philippines’ sustainability front. He is the principal of Asian Architects, a design firm founded three decades ago. His design ethos hinges on the principles of good design, and his work is a showcase of intense passion and advocacy on sustainability. Guerrero is indefatigable in spreading the gospel of sustainability across the country, believing that it is for all. Harry Serrano, FuturArc Philippines correspondent, caught up with him for an in-depth conversation.

HS: Can you walk us through Green?
MG: I have a simple definition of Green architecture: designing with nature. You go to the site and analyse the environment. What is the climate? What are the resources? What is the slope? Then you design accordingly. You avoid sunlight coming into the building from the west and east. You get natural light coming through the north and south. And (you create) as much as possible, big windows and not deep building plates so you don’t have a dark spot in the middle.

I believe that (by) simply adjusting to the site, you’ll actually come up with Green design. People say, “you need to be a specialist to do Green buildings”, but we do the opposite. There’s no mystery. Good design equals Green design.

HS: You are the chairman of Green AP. Tell me more about that.
MG: Green Architecture Advocacy Philippines, or Green AP, was founded in 2009, and put together by volunteers. We’re architects and a few other professions. (This) was at a time when Green building rating systems were coming into play. LEED, the US Green Building rating system, was talked about. The first (local) rating system was coming up—BERDE by the Philippine Green Building Council. As a group, we thought that Green rating systems were quite expensive, (affecting only) a few buildings. What happens to a great majority of buildings? (And) so we put up an advocacy group. We were not putting up a rating system, not selling any product. (This was) pure and simple advocacy, so more people can understand sustainability, people (who) practise small- and medium-scale projects. Our motto is sustainability for all. Dot. Dot. Dot.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not against Green building rating systems. I think they’re good. They protect the buyers (of) these big projects because they conform to a standard that is checked by a third party. We have no problem with that.

I wrote for our group, Ten Steps to Sustainability: block the sun… let the light in… catch the breeze… insulate the roof, etc. Every last Wednesday of the month, we (host) a lecture. Every year we have a forum, a two-day Green forum. This year, our theme is Climate Change: Killing Me Softly.

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Previously Published FuturArc Interview (Abstracts)

Nov-Dec 2016

Chitra Vishwanath is an architect based in Bengaluru, India. She is one of the influential architects in making sustainability a household term in India.


Sep-Oct 2016

Bill Browning is widely regarded as one of the foremost thinkers and strategists in the world of Green design, and an advocate for sustainable design solutions.


Jul-Aug 2016

Born in Jakarta, Indonesia, Sigit is an emerging architect and urban designer best known for his design projects and research in architecture, urban planning, and environmental and social community movement.


May-Jun 2016

In her seminal book—Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature—she described an emerging discipline that emulates nature’s designs and processes to create a healthier, more sustainable planet.


Mar-Apr 2016

The roots of architect Harrison Fraker’s distinguished career lie in the US energy and environmental crises of the 1960s and 1970s. A key figure in the development of US environmental design, Fraker founded the University of Minnesota’s architecture school. 


Jan-Feb 2016

A pioneer of biomimicry, Michael Pawlyn founded his London-based practice Exploration Architecture in 2007 to concentrate on solutions found in biology. He was shortlisted for the Young Architect of the Year Award and the Buckminster Fuller Challenge in 2008. 


Nov-Dec 2015

Madhura Prematilleke, at one point, was seen to be anti-Bawa by some in the architecture fraternity in Sri Lanka. This was a misreading of his position on the well-known Sri Lankan architect, Geoffrey Bawa. In an interview with FuturArc editor-in-chief, Dr Nirmal Kishnani, he explains why the Bawa legacy is complex.


Sep-Oct 2015

David Orr headed the effort to design, fund and build the Adam Joseph Lewis Center, which was named by an American Institute of Architects (AIA) panel in 2010 as “the most important Green building of the past 30 years”, and as “one of 30 milestone buildings of the 20th century” by the US Department of Energy.


Jul-Aug 2015

The Singapore hospitals that Liak Teng Lit has managed as CEO—particularly Alexandra and Khoo Teck Puat—are seen to be game changers in design for healthcare. He is now the chairman of Singapore’s National Environment Agency.


May-Jun 2015

Rahul Mehrotra is an architect, urbanist and educator. He is founder principal of RMA Architects, Mumbai, as well as professor and chair of urban planning and design, at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design.


Mar-Feb 2015

Chrisna Du Plessis has been both an articulate advocate and a blunt critic of the sustainability movement, a global thought leader often seen presenting keynotes at sustainability conferences worldwide. 


Jan-Feb 2015

Robert Engelman is a Senior Fellow at the Worldwatch Institute, a globally focused environmental research organisation based in Washington, D.C. He originally joined Worldwatch as vice president for programmes and was named president in 2011. 


Nov-Dec 2014

Daniel Kammen is an internationally known energy expert, and former Chief Technical Specialist of the World Bank’s renewable energy and energy efficiency programmes. Kammen is a professor at the University of California – Berkeley’s Energy and Resources group.


Sep-Oct 2014

Ridwan Kamil is an award-winning architect and urbandesigner who, since September 2013, has been mayor of Bandung city, Indonesia. Dr Nirmal Kishnani, met with Mayor Kamil at the 2014 World Cities Summit in Singapore, where they talked about how being an architect affects his worldview as mayor.


Jul-Aug 2014

Considered one of the most influential individuals in the Green building movement today, Jason F. McLennan’s work has made a pivotal impact on the shape and direction of Green building in the United States and Canada. He is a much sought-after presenter and consultant on a wide variety of Green building and sustainability topics around the world..


May-Jun 2014

The FuturArc Competitions Jury, by Dr Nirmal Kishnani

Over two days in March 2014, four experts—Adi Purnomo (Indonesia), Sanjay Prakash (India), Vo Trong Nghia (Vietnam), and Nirmal Kishnani (Singapore)—met in Jakarta to decide on the winners of FuturArc Prize and FuturArc Green Leadership Award. The fifth juror—Herbert Dreiseitl (Germany)—joined via teleconference.


Mar-Apr 2014

The foundation focuses on capability-building and employment-generating projects and is known for initiatives such as the Design Against the Elements (DAtE) competition, Liter of Light, and the Bottle School project. Since 2008, when he was named a Young Global Leader of 2008 by the World Economic Forum in Geneva, Diaz has garnered accolades and much international media attention to his cause.


Jan-Feb 2014

Ada Fung has no easy job. As deputy director in charge of Development and Construction at the Hong Kong Housing Authority, she literally must answer to millions. As of mid-2013, approximately 30 percent of the Hong Kong population lived in flats developed and managed by the Authority.


Nov-Dec 2013

No matter what the regulatory level, I believe in voluntary higher-level standards. We have to raise the bar, reward it with incentives, PR and tax credits, and anything we can to keep pulling towards net zero and beyond. I don’t believe in either/or, I believe in both."


Sep-Oct 2013

SIR NICHOLAS GRIMSHAW - Architect, by Y-Jean Mun-Delsalle

I certainly love structure, but it’s not the be all and end all of our work by any means. Our architectural solutions evolve out of an investigation and understanding of a project’s programme, the careful balance of elements that make up architecture."


Jul-Aug 2013

“Architecture, as we understand it, is going to change quite drastically in the next 10 to 15 years because the act of building something new is itself inherently unsustainable. Old is soon to be the new black.”


May-Jun 2013

KEVIN MARK LOW & SANJAY PRAKASH by Dr Nirmal Kishnani & Bhawna Jaimini

“Architecture, as we understand it, is going to change quite drastically in the next 10 to 15 years because the act of building something new is itself inherently unsustainable. Old is soon to be the new black.”

Mar-Apr 2013
“To excite people to take up sustainability it’s not enough to have highly efficient, low-energy buildings. When people go into places and feel, for many reasons and on many levels, ‘yes, this is how I want to live, and believe we should live’, that’s when sustainability will be embraced with enthusiasm.
Jan-Feb 2013

DR ARAB HOBALLAH - Chief, Sustainable Consumption and Production Branch, Division of Technology, Industry and Economics, UNEP by Dr Nirmal Kishnani

“It is complex and frustrating. Someone in Sao Paulo said to me recently ‘I want to buy a hybrid car, I’m really concerned about environmental issues, etc.’ I asked him ‘How many cars do you have?’ and he said, ‘This will be my fourth’.




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