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01.10.2018, 10:58

Re-envisioning Manila

Company News, Architecture & Interiors, Events, APAC
AECOM, together with Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD), has hosted a public forum to mark the opening of "Manila: Future Habitations", an exhibition at the San Ignacio Church and Mission House in Manila that envisions the future of the Philippines' capital city.


The public forum which engaged more than 300 key stakeholders in a discussion on how Manila can overcome and address challenges to sustainable development and renewal, with particular emphasis on the design of human settlements, new types of dwellings, the connective tissue and common ground of cities, and the challenge of designing for the human condition against future tensions. It also highlighted the need to future proof and establish sustainable development in the identified areas in Manila.


“The aspiration for a more livable city was palpable when we were here in February for the first public forum.  What this six-part studio collaboration has reiterated is that while each city has a unique history and character, the aspirations of its citizens and the challenges of its policymakers are universal and representative of so many of the world’s urban-centric issues, such as the economic drain of traffic congestion and homogeneity,” said Mohsen Mostafavi, Dean and Alexander and Victoria Wiley Professor of Design, Harvard GSD.


“The Southeast Asia Studio project has been a very successful and meaningful collaboration with the Harvard Graduate School of Design because we are shaping the mindsets of new and existing generations, through the students’ design research and the public forums. It is imperative that we consider the future through new eyes and from fresh perspectives. We hope that the insights and proposals gained from the bright minds in this design exercise will be beneficial to Manila,” said Sean Chiao, President, Asia Pacific, AECOM.


The Manila design studio illustrated urban design as jigsaw puzzle solving, and demonstrated how local coherence across four sites was achieved by considering beyond the challenges of individual sites.


“The four sites of Intramuros, Manila’s historic core, offer a series of unique opportunities for examining contemporary topics in Manila urban development. From re-programming the Port Area, to developing a construction framework for future housing expansion in Baseco, to addressing the wall at Intramuros, to rethinking connectivity across the Pasig River, the urban issues this studio focused are current pressing needs for Manila. However, many of these are also common”, said Spela Videcnik, Design Critic in Architecture, Harvard GSD.


The Intramuros Administration, the Philippine government agency with responsibility for administering the historic district, partnered with AECOM and the Harvard Graduate School of Design to sponsor and support the Manila Studio research project.


“We are excited to be part of the study, and to unveil what AECOM and the Harvard University Graduate School of Design are proposing as a different and enhanced future for Manila under this program. The research proposals provide valuable insights and practical solutions which can be considered for implementation. We hope to increase livability and improve the quality of life of the Manila citizens through design,” said Guiller Asido, Administrator, Intramuros Administration.

Manila: Future Habitations is also the final part of the three-year series on Southeast Asian megacities, following Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur, and the sixth year of the AECOM-Harvard GSD collaboration aimed at providing some of the GSD’s top students with exposure to the urban design challenges and opportunities resulting from the hyper-growth across Asia’s cities. The programme provides a platform for policy makers, urban planners and architects, and business leaders in the subject city to engage with each other and with new generations of talent on future development.

Manila: Future Habitations will be open to the public from 28 September at the San Ignacio Church in Intramuros. It features proposals for four adjacent sites in Manila, covering the Port of Manila; the Baseco compound; the Pasig Riverfront; and the Intramuros. It also showcase actual size housing prototype structures, scale models and graphic plans reflecting the studio research outcomes.

About Harvard Graduate School of Design

Founded in 1936, Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD) has roots dating back to 1874, when academic degree programs in architecture and landscape architecture emerged at the University. In fact, Harvard can be credited with founding the disciplines of landscape architecture and city planning prior to the establishment of the School, and founding the discipline of urban design in the 1960s.


As the premier design school in the world, the GSD has a legacy of leadership, innovation, and social responsibility. The School sets the standard for design education, regularly ranking number one in two of its core disciplines. GSD alumni and faculty are world renowned for creating the modern era’s most iconic buildings, landscapes, and city plans, and the School is proud to have the highest number of Pritzker Prize winners and AIA Fellows of any design school.


Today, the GSD continues to explore vital, global issues with authority, synthesizing research and practice in a collaborative, holistic approach that empowers the design community to make a difference around the world.



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