DESIGN champ Royce Mar Nicdao never thought his dream of becoming a comic book artist would lead him to a first-place finish in a Russian architectural derby.

The artistic vibe of the Archstoyanie Festival in Russia caught Royce Mar’s attention, so he and his team decided to submit two entries in the design competition in Nikola-Lenivets, a small village that is home to Russian contemporary artists. There, their work stood out.

“Initially, I thought of the idea but the team handled the creation of the design,” said Royce Mar who worked with a team from the WTA Architecture and Design Studio.

His work, Sousveillance: Under Big Brother's Skirt earned him his biggest success in the field.

From his love of the complexities and diverse beauty of architecture, Royce Mar hoped to improve himself and reap fruits in his future endeavors as a Thomasian architect.

“It’s nice to be in the international scene because it coincides with building up with yourself, your country and your school. You improve all together,” said Royce Mar, who earned his license in 2009.

Drawing boards

The former Varsitarian staffer never thought of becoming an architect. He said all he wanted when he was young was to become a comic book artist.

“I remember drawing sketches of soldiers back then, I don’t know why, so I really thought I was going to be a soldier but never ended to become one,” he said.

Even in high school, Royce Mar had no idea what he wanted besides his love for drawing.

“Your dreams evolve in the different stages of childhood. But my hobby for drawing somehow got stuck. Maybe that’s the commonality to everything. There’s that kind of feature—the desire to create,” he said.

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Royce Mar is the design director of WTA Architecture Design and Studio, a design firm established in 2006 that creates architectural designs for various clients and developers.

He recalled that Interior Design was his first choice but he felt a bit aloof since most students taking up the course are girls, making him to enroll in Architecture instead.

With his artistic vision in designs, he studied in UST as he felt “at home” with the environment that includes a church, which he said is a good example for architectural study.

“‘Yung UST mas homey,” Royce Mar said. “Eventually, I learned that the program was okay especially with the theories. I was more inspired with the history and the theory than the design.”

Summer Festival

A festival of landscape objects, the Archstoyanie Festival is the first Russian project that finds new approaches in developing parks and agricultural territories through creative competitions.

Royce Mar joined the annual Summer Festival in the small village of Nikola-Lenivets, a site filled with art objects in the Kaluga region of Russia near Moscow. The Summer Festival, which began in 2006, features creations from artists and architects around the world.

“Parang exponential ‘yung saya,” Royce Mar said as he described what he felt after winning this year’s competition.

The Open International Competition, which was part of the Summer Festival, required to design a 24-meter high observation deck that could be accessed through ramp or stairs.

An observation deck is an architectural structure situated on elevated platforms for distant viewing purposes.

With the theme, “Three Belvederes,” one should be able to see the panoramic view of the creative surroundings from above the belvedere or observation deck. A total of 227 entries were submitted by participants from 35 countries in the prestigious event.

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“The process and the conceptualization is a bit instantaneous. Here in the office, the effort is collaborative. It’s like the idea came out of the blue,” he said.

Instead of following the requirements, his architecture team built a suspended lens-shaped mirror without any ramps or stairs wherein the viewer would see the reflection of the surroundings from underneath.

“Sometimes, you have to become disobedient to the rules because you would end up becoming stuck within the parameters,” said Royce Mar.

Construction and development is still underway, then we have to fly over to the site to collaborate with the Russians,” Royce Mar said.

The unveiling of his masterpiece will be during the Archstoyanie Festival in the last week of July.

Growing up in ‘V’

A practitioner for five years, the award-winning architect said he initially learned to create architectural objects and designs through studying other people’s works and ideas.

“When you have created a deeper understanding of their works, it’s not the structure that you would copy, it’s the idea. From there, you could formulate yourself,” he said.

In 2005, out of his inclination to improve his creativity, Royce Mar joined the Varsitarian to become an artist.

“There was a point in studying architecture that I only got to construct buildings. In the Varsitarian, there’s some sort of factor that the things you do may vary,” he said.

He added that being a Varsitarian staffer taught him a lot of things especially in how to efficiently handle pressure and work with different kinds of people.

“You would also evolve professionally,” he said. “The best thing about this is that you’re in a nice place with your friends.”

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