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Paris Students Share their Urban Design Proposal for Manila

“Manila used to be one of the ten best managed cities in Asia during 1950’s under Mayor Arsenio Lacson.” says Dr. Butch Zialcita of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology of the Ateneo de Manila University during a presentation of urban design proposal made by Architecture students of Ecole Nationale SupĂ©rieure d’Architecture de Paris La Villette from Paris, France at the National Museum of the Filipino People. For the past 20 years, students from this university studied different cities in Asia-Pacific region that are in the process of rapid change due to forces of globalization, including urban system and transportation. Manila’s five districts: Intramuros, Paco, Sta. Ana, Malate and Navotas were chosen to come up with ideas on how to revitalize these historical places.

Perhaps the most challenging proposal that night is to create more parks instead of malls which raised few eyebrows. This is for the growing trend of people that are slaves of capitalistic empire in forms of giant freezers spread everywhere. One student boldly asked why do people should be encouraged to stay on parks which is hot in temperature when they can go to malls and chill out? “Simply because, we can’t aircondition all the places in Manila!” says Dr. Butch. Statistically-speaking, Manila has the least if not, one of the places with the least number of parks and open spaces in the world. And the most awaited question for the night “Is this proposal already or will be submitted to LGU’s (local government units)?” The answer is “Not yet.”

The questions asked were overflowing mostly scrutinous in nature that it was almost forgotten that these are a proposal from students not in-depth analysis but a detailed recommendation from the views of people who are not living in Manila. But a study like this inspired a few local initiatives like the fleshing out of a plan about Escolta which used to be a commercial business center of Manila. This place has an organized association of private property owners so it won’t be hard to implement the findings in the future. It will focus on the cultural, political, social, architecture and design aspects of the place.

“In 1990’s there was a plan for central Manila to attract heritage tourism but was never enforced. We have too much bureaucracy in the country that those planned are not implemented and vice-versa. We have to educate our local officials to stop tearing down our historical places. We have to lengthen the terms of their office since these cannot be done overnight. We invite individuals, schools and its students to join us in formulation of plans to revive Escolta and if this succeeds, more will follow” Arch. Nathaniel Von Einsiedel, president of Heritage Conservation Society shares his closing remarks for the night.

For the gist of findings about the proposal you may read Yahoo Philippines’  article French study: Manila needs more parks, promenades please click here

Image taken from a paper table mat of a French-named bakeshop but 100% Filipino made

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