GAJ’s Christine Espinosa discusses her endless drive to be a top architect

Before moving to Dubai 10 years ago, Christine Espinosa gained valuable work experience early on in her home country. In the Philippines, after graduating from the PLM College of Architecture and Urban Planning, she chose to work with small, boutique firms on projects that, today, remain iconic structures.

Such projects include the Mall of Asia and MOA Arena, and according to Espinosa, they sparked a national dialogue and passion for architecture, which previously had been lacklustre.

“A decade ago, architecture in the Philippines wasn’t a strong industry,” she said. “The architects were mostly foreign and we weren’t getting international designs, until Mall of Asia came about, which I worked on.

Architecture in the Philippines largely consisted of vernacular architecture, which is something I try to learn from and incorporate in my work today.”

Hoping to test her luck, Espinosa relocated to the UAE with her husband in 2008 and found work at larger architecture firms, but it wasn’t until she joined Godwin Austen Johnson that she felt she had a place to settle into.

To date, she has worked on several contemporary buildings, interior design, horizontal and vertical developments, and masterplans, as well as schools, retail, commercial, office, hospitality and heritage projects in the UAE and the greater Middle East. Her project list includes Marsa Al Seef, Al Bait Boutique Hotel and Cranleigh.

“I really admire Sou Fujimoto’s work. I met him during a design seminar and he’s a great person,” she said.

“He said that the success of a building doesn’t stop when you build it, but five years or more after its completion to see whether or not people are still enjoying it. And that meant a lot to me because I want to leave something behind that adds onto what society has already created.”

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