Architect Maya Franco builds structures, pursues ideals
By Fiona Patricia S. Escandor
WHEN Maya Franco was 12, an uncle who saw her drawing of a fictional village casually suggested to her to become an architect. Having a keen interest in the arts, Maya harbored the idea until it was time for her to make a decision.
The deal breaker? The architecture school she planned on attending was a 10-minute walk from her house, and two of her high school buddies were also going there.
Maya, though, soon realized that architecture was more than just doodling.
“By the time I was in my third year, I was literally in tears and begged my parents to allow me to shift,” Maya admitted. “But they’re really big on perseverance, so I wasn’t allowed to. Even when I got my license, I still wasn’t sure I wanted to pursue it.”
The turning point came when she took her first job as assistant in an international architecture firm, which saw her works actually built. “The first time I witnessed the lines on paper become wood, stone, walls and ceiling—I was on a high,” she said. “And even after 10 years, seeing something I drew built is still a thrill, each and every time.”
DESIGN GROUP. From her two-year stint with the firm, in 2006 Maya established her eponymous design group, known for its works in residential, retail, restaurants and hotels. Among her current projects are an eight-storey hotel that is going to soft open this month and a 10-storey building that will ground-break soon.
“This is our firm’s first eight-storey building,” she said, “And there’s another hotel opening in a few months where we did the interiors and I like how it is turning out. But asking me to pick a favorite is like asking a mother to say who her favorite child is—I can’t. I always fall in love with each project I work on and I’m proud of each one.”
Maya said she’s easily attracted to structures with subtle elegance and sophistication. “I like a lot of natural light, clean and simple lines, and using tasteful, non-fussy bright color combinations and natural textures,” she said. “I feel that color balance, clean and fine finishes are important to achieve an elegant look.”
LEARNING PROCESS. For Maya, a typical week goes from creating new designs in her workspace, to running off to different properties in the city to oversee construction. Sounds tough, but it’s also the very reason that had kept her going the past 10 years.
“I always tackle a different challenge every day,” she said. “Each project comes with a unique set of parameters. No two designs are alike and that’s really refreshing.”
She has learned a lot, too. “I meet a lot of cool people and I’m always learning. I have learned so much about different industries—BPO, real estate, restaurants and hotels—all because of the projects I do for them.”
WHAT’S REAL. The thriving architect said she enjoys spending her free time dabbling in arts and crafts and cooking. “I invite my friends to the house and test new recipes for them,” she said. Or sometimes, when her friends are not around, she prepares homemade dog food for her dogs Jaeger, Rumpy and Kiki. “My dogs love my cooking!” she said teasingly.
As if her day job is not enough, Maya also admitted that she often finds herself playing the city-building simulation game, SimCity.
“When I’m really bored, I like designing “ideal” cities,” she said. “It’s still related to my field of work, so once I’ve had enough real-world experience and saved up enough money, I think I would like to pursue urban planning, then my ideal cities”—or villages for that matter—“will be more than just make-believe and won’t be just a hobby.”
Photos: Alfred Gregory E. Bartolome
Hair & Make-up: AJ Airraveche
Assistants: Chelzee Salera and Abegail Kionisala, UP Cebu Interns
Locale: Zerenity Hotel