Describe the urban development of Metro Manila in one word and there are plenty of possibilities that spring to mind – dense, crowded, congested, to name a few. Today, 100 kilometers north of the metro, developers, businesses and ordinary Filipinos have the opportunity to shape New Clark City into an area 40 times the size of BGC, the last planned community in the Philippines.
But how do we approach the design of the city of tomorrow and what implications does this have for the properties that would define Clark’s cityscape? Sylvester Wong, vice president of AECOM, the senior planner of New Clark City, offers some lessons in human-centered development.
âA lot of people think the main planning is physical design,â Wong explains, âbut good planning is about people – who are the people who would want to live and work there?â
He explains that the cities of tomorrow must attract the best talent from IT, media, design and other creative disciplines – industries that define future innovations rather than succumb to them. While manufacturing hubs and free zones represent the models of urban development of the past, the city of the future must be a âknowledge-based economyâ, welcoming a diverse set of industries and led by an equally diverse set of thinkers. .
How does a senior planner attract the best and brightest to a new and unfamiliar place?
Prioritizing quality of life through human-centered design, says Wong. Cities should be “permeable” rather than monolithic. Instead of eight-lane highways surrounding a dense center, there should be shorter blocks, mixed-use developments, abundant parks, and narrower but multi-use roads that prioritize pedestrians over cars. Thus, it must promote traffic in and around the city and make green spaces accessible to all rather than to the privileged few.
Another crucial factor is to integrate the unique factors inherent in this region. âEach location has its own advantages, so it was all about figuring out what was unique to Clark and then exploiting it,â says Wong. He says the overall planning of New Clark City meant building on the legacy of central Luzon as the country’s agro-industrial capital, along with its world-class aviation infrastructure and proximity to the Port of Subic. In this way, Clark and other new towns like this can attract top local and regional talent to take traditional industries to the next level.
Above all, cities need to harness technology as a way to empower people. âThe best smart cities are data driven and technology independent,â says Wong. Various technology platforms are expected to work together seamlessly to improve quality of life, while analyzing the vast amounts of data collected creates new opportunities for employment and innovation.
âTechnology needs to be seamlessly integrated into all aspects of life, from smart grids and street lights to mobility, safety, security and healthcare,â says Wong. Essentially, each property in the city of the future should be its own technology hub, constantly interfacing with adjacent systems to improve quality of life and ultimately uplift the city to be more competitive and resilient. .
Resilience takes on new meaning in the context of a city. For Wong, it’s not just physical and environmental resilience at stake, but economic. As important as it is to prepare for the inevitable consequences of climate change and natural disasters, “the true measure of resilience is when a city’s inhabitants are able to remain globally competitive as the world changes.” â, Explains Wong. The implications for a new city like Clark are that workplaces must be spaces of collaboration – R&D centers, laboratories, design studios, etc., to create knowledge-driven communities resilient to technological and economic change.
As with any large-scale project, general planning is a work in progress. Over the next few decades, New Clark City is expected to house one million residents and create 800,000 new jobs. But in the short term, the priority is to attract the right mix of first arrivals who would appropriate the city and make it constantly evolve. In the end, according to Wong’s plans, the city may not look anything like the original sketch, “but if what you attracted has motivated people to come and invest and keep evolving, then that’s it. is an excellent blueprint “.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Joseph graduated from Ateneo de Manila with a degree in management engineering, but realized decades later that he would have preferred to study architecture. He received his MBA from the University of Cambridge and owns a furniture business and a fixture technology business. He was born in Davao, raised in Manila, and spent short periods in Shanghai, Beijing, Canberra, Sydney and Cambridge. His travels have instilled in him a fascination with cities, homes and buildings as physical spaces where learning takes place, great businesses are created, art is created and shared, families nurtured and societies formed. . Writing about the property through PROP UP is Joseph’s way of continuing his adventures and sharing the possibilities of the places we shape to live and love.
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