‘Water, water everywhere, and relationships all around‘

The transformation of Manila’s urban waterways into dump sites and residential areas for informal settlers recently posed a challenge of 23 budding innovators from the country’s leading architecture schools gathered to create a design solution that would hopefully address the issue.

‘Water, water everywhere, and relationships all around‘

“It is all about relationships,” said Architect Maria Cynthia Funk, cluster associate dean of the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde (DLS-CSB) school of design and arts (SDA) environment studies. “When you throw something away, it means that you do not have a relationship with it anymore. But the truth is, whatever you throw does not go away, it just goes somewhere else.” 

Issue: lack of relationships

Funk explained that the residents’ decision to throw their garbage into the waterways reflects their lack of relationship with their surroundings. “The estero is currently the receptacle for the solid and water wastes of four cities in Metro Manila. We can ask everyone do their part and help our communities to be its guardians,” Funk said. “It’s a feat but we can start now.”

The group (Seen in photo) was comprised of innovators Philip Nathan Jude Sy from the University of the Philippines Diliman; Marcelo Luteria, Al John Carl Ramos, and Francis Gester Fernandez from the Adamson University; Frances Abigail Vinluan, Rovianne Santiago, Michael Angelo Reyes, Leslie Anne Vital, Hana Richelle Tan, Maria Julia Andrei Malicdem, Marielle Joy Villamayor, Oscar Kevin Castro, and Jianne Libunao from the University of Santo Tomas; and Jon Russell Sy, Sebastian Francisco, Giuseppe Luigi Abcede, Katrina Ruiz, Louie Nathaniel Kiu, Noelle Alido, Eunice Miracle Clemente, Carla Andrea Rosario, Matthew Jonathan Gan, and Liam Anthony R. Tangan from the DLS-CSB.

They were mentored by a panel of industry practitioners and educators including Bamboo architecture expert and consultant Ar. Christian Salandanan, UP Architecture’s Ar. Gerard Joson, and Benilde’s Ar. Lyle La Madrid, Ar. Harry Serrano, Ar. Joel Deocaris, Ar. Cesar Concio III and Arnold Rañada.

The team took an intensive two-week global summer school (GSS) 2019 of the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC), a Barcelona-based center for research, education, production, and outreach to meet the challenges in the human habitability for the early 21st century, accredited by the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC).

Making a bigger space

In their research, the group discovered that the estero has two additional parallel bridges that connect the residential area to the street. “One of the bridges is covered and people really stay there to hang out. The GSS students thought that if the residents really want to hang out at the bridge, why not make the space bigger?” Funk queried. 

The students maximized their skills and came up with a prototype using bamboo and digitally fabricated bamboo connectors, a simulation of their desired solution – a large scale parametrically designed pavilion that will connect the two existing bridges together and will serve as a common ground where people can play, eat, and hang-out (Seen here). 

 “The idea is that it establishes a space for the people to share,” Funk said. “A well-designed public area would inspire our community to take care of their own surroundings. If this becomes what it ought to be, people will learn how to create relationships, build community, and respect one another.” 

With the help of plastic drums and 250 bamboo poles, the students were able to manually transform their design concept into one-fourths of the actual output and placed the base platform and the first segments above the waters. 

Bayanihan to the core

The installation process also espoused the concept of modern-day bayanihan among the residents who wish to see change and inspired a group of out-of-school youths who are willing to help continue the project.  

‘Water, water everywhere, and relationships all around‘

The team hopes that respective planning offices and local government units, as well as the private sector, would be encouraged to help in pushing through with the completion of the project. 

Topics: Maria Cynthia Funk , De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde , Philip Nathan Jude Sy
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