Words Patrick Kasingsing
Images The Architecture Drawing Prize
We have our winner! Pampanga-based architect Eldry Infante has been proclaimed overall winner at the 2023 Architecture Drawing Prize — the first-ever Philippine-based honoree of the prestigious drawing competition, which “…celebrates the importance of drawing as a tool in capturing and communicating architectural ideas,” according to organizers Make Architects, the World Architecture Festival, and the Sir John Soane’s Museum. The good news came after an online webinar held at 5 PM GMT hosted by the Sir John Soane’s Museum, where the three category winners were invited to discuss their work. Kanto covered the discussion and announcement live and on location with the support of GROHE Philippines.
A stimulating discussion with hand-drawn winner Ben Johnson, digital winner Eugene Tan, and hybrid winner Infante about the art of architectural drawing transpired, chaired by WAF founding director Paul Finch and with a panel comprising Louise Stewart, Head of Exhibitions at Sir John Soane’s Museum, Ken Shuttleworth of Make Architects, and Narinder Sagoo of Foster + Partners. The panelists touched on the enduring importance of architectural drawing, with Shuttleworth sharing that it expresses the pulse of the architecture world and that the Prize was initiated to celebrate the various means of expressing spatial visions. Regarding the various tools available for the artists to draw from, Sagoo stresses that the tool is the enabler, but the narrative should be king. “At the end of the day, what we see on canvases submitted, whether digital or paper, should evoke a reaction.” Stewart closes with yet another open call for artists to join the upcoming edition of the Prize, anticipating the variety, but also the depth of thought that this year’s edition showcased.
The anticipated winner’s announcement came after. Infante’s hybrid entry, (Re)membering the See Monster, was adjudged the year’s best architectural drawing. Infante’s entry continues the ongoing trend of hybrid drawing category winners claiming the top plum, which started with French-Pinoy architect Clement Luk Laurencio’s Apartment #5, a Labyrinth and Repository of Spatial Memories, in 2020. Infante’s entry, both a faithful and deconstructive reimagining of NewSubstance’s infamous See Monster art installation, is notably the first overall winning entry depicting an existing structure (albeit demolished); previous overall winning drawings were largely of fantastical, visionary spaces.
Infante shares a statement with Kanto on the event of his win:
“I extend my sincere gratitude to the Drawing Prize for this incredible honor. My heartfelt thank you to the jury for recognizing the process and ideas behind my work.
Congratulations to the 2023 batch of the Prize, especially Ben and Eugene, with whom I shared category wins. Your exceptional drawings inspire me, allowing me to explore and interpret topics crucial to the architectural landscape.
Being in London for the first time in Europe is truly exciting, and accepting the award at Sir John Soane’s Museum is an immense honor. My illustrations have always been a way to appreciate structures from afar, and now, I have the opportunity to see some up close. I am grateful to those who celebrated this win with me, particularly my family, friends, and supporters who contributed to my journey.
I look forward to witnessing more Filipino architects and artists participating. Our rich contributions can significantly enhance the international drawing conversation regarding artistry, depth, and skill showcase. Additionally, I advocate for a greater emphasis on, exploration of, and appreciation for the skill of drawing. As architects, it clarifies our work and allows it to mature and develop.”
Details of Infante’s winning work (Re)membering the See Monster
Infante’s (Re)membering the See Monster joins fellow category winners and shortlisted finalists at the 2023 Architecture Drawing Prize exhibition at the Sir John Soane’s Museum from 31 January to 3 March 2024. The museum, the one-time home of legendary neoclassical architect Sir John Soane, also plays host to his extensive collection of cultural objects, furniture, and architectural artworks and models.
The Architecture Drawing Prize is a sister event of the World Architecture Festival, the largest live architecture competition of its kind, set to be held for a second year in Singapore. First awarded in 2017, the 2023 edition of the Architecture Drawing Prize attracted nearly 250 entries worldwide for its three main categories: hand-drawn, digital, and hybrid (a combination of the two previous approaches). Infante was one of two Pinoy entrants in last year’s edition. The competition will kick off a new edition in July 2024.
Kanto had an exclusive sit-down with prize founder Ken Shuttleworth of Make Architects and overall winner Infante from last year’s World Architecture Festival where we talked about the prize’s continuing relevance, Infante’s winning entry, and the advent of AI and its effect on the creative community. Watch out for it soon on our website.
Thank you for once again bringing honor to the Philippines, Eldry! Luid ka! •