WTA’s Horizon Manila Wins WAFX Water Category

William Ti to present WTA Architecture and Design Studio’s winning masterplan for the 419-hectare reclamation project this July 14

Images WTA Architecture and Design Studio

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The World Architecture Festival (WAF) announced today the festival’s picks of some of “the world’s most forward-looking architectural concepts,” winners of the WAF Futures (WAFX) 2021 Awards. Twelve projects were chosen, addressing twelve of the world’s most pressing challenges: Climate, Energy & Carbon; Water; Food; Ageing; Health; Re-use; Smart Cities; Construction Technology; Cultural Identity; Ethics and Values; Social Equity; and Digital Technology.

Filipino firm WTA Architecture and Design Studio is one of the twelve WAFX Award winners, its Horizon Manila reclamation masterplan earning top prize in the Water Category.

WAF Programme Director Paul Finch said: “In a period of profound change across the world, architects will play an important part in creating buildings, cities, public places, and landscapes that respond to the challenges we have identified. There are immense amounts of research being undertaken across the profession which we hope we can draw attention to, and which we intend to support through publication, exhibition, and funding initiatives. These are big-picture initiatives which concern architects both individually and collectively, and we want WAF to play a part in promoting initiatives which are aimed at making life better.”

Principal architect William Ti will be presenting his firm’s project with the other WAFX winning architects at WAF Futures, a three-day online event this July 12 to 14. During the three-day event, Finch will host the presentation sessions with Festival curator Jeremy Melvin. They will be joined by a guest and the winning category architect to discuss each topic.

William Ti’s presentation is scheduled for July 14, 2021, 9:30 – 11:30 BST or 4:30 pm – 6:30 pm Philippine time.

Another Filipino firm, Carlo Calma Consultancy, won the WAFX Food category with Cagbalete Sand Clusters, and Construction Technology category for his Museum for Architecture + Residences.

Ti’s and Calma’s wins at WAFX automatically shortlists their projects in the Future Project category of WAF’s Building of the Year competition, where finalists will present their projects before a live audience and jury in Lisbon, Portugal, on December 1-3, 2021.

William Ti’s past appearances at the WAF

GROHE Philippines, which has been supporting shortlisted Filipino architects at the WAF and celebrating their wins, has expressed their delight at the news of the three wins. “WAF is a global stage for Filipino architects and designers to showcase their talent and ingenuity, for the world to see what they can offer, the significance of their work and how it will help the Filipinos to solve real-life challenges,” said GROHE Philippines Country Manager Joralyn Ong, who immediately sent her congratulations to the two architects upon learning they won.

William Ti is a veteran of the WAF, having been shortlisted for five projects in 2015, 2016, and 2017. “William is visionary and a firm believer of sustainable architecture. I like how generous he is in sharing his experience and providing tips,” Ong says about Ti, referring to the events GROHE organizes where colleagues and WAF veterans like Ti come to toast, coach, and encourage first-time shortlisted architects before they make the trip to the festival. GROHE is the founding sponsor of the World Architecture Festival, one of the most prestigious and the world’s largest architectural event. Wilcon Depot’s SEVP and COO, Rosemarie Ong, was quick to extend her regards to the men of the hour: “On behalf of Wilcon Depot, Grohe’s exclusive distributor in the Philippines, congratulations to William Ti, Jr. and Carlo Calma for your exemplary, award-winning work in WAF and for showcasing Filipino ingenuity and talent to the world!”

WTA’s Horizon Manila project description follows, along with the images the firm submitted to the WAF earlier this year.

Horizon Manila

Cities are the engines of human civilization. They provide incredible opportunities for citizens and represent the pinnacle of human development of our age. Manila is the densest city in the world and its restricted space has hampered its growth and development, resulting in a sprawling metropolitan area plagued with horrendous housing and transportation issues.

Horizon Manila is a 419-hectare reclamation project that will be the first and largest reclamation project in the City of Manila in over a century. The project is meant to serve as a new hub for growth and development for one of the densest and largest mega cities of the 21st century.

How can we grow a city that would reflect the character and vitality of Manila? The Manileño concept presents a bottom-up community-centric organic growth model in contrast with the archetypal command-driven top-down master plan. It centers on creating shared experiences and building distinct community identities by establishing soft boundaries and edges.

This masterplan is composed of three islands bisected by a four-kilometer-long canal park that recalls the identity of the Tagalog (River) people who settled along the mouth of the Pasig River. Manila is composed of 16 distinct districts and 897 barangays (neighborhoods) which reflect the hyperlocal settlement patterns of its people. The history and culture of the city is defined by the character and variety of these settlements, which together have created a vibrant mixture of people and places.

The masterplan focuses on people and local activities as the main determinant for diverse and organic growth. Shared experiences that tie the communities together are developed through activated public spaces with programs that strengthen the vitality of the streetscape. Placemaking features that stimulate local experiences define these spaces. They range from the ubiquitous streetball culture of Manila to lush tropical gardens, from water gardens to civic and religious plazas. Each place is a kernel of ground activity that evokes the culture and lifestyle of Manileños.

Identity is reinforced by creating soft boundaries and edges. The various communities will each develop their own distinct typologies with building envelopes that form an urban valley. These defined edges and boundaries, together with the urban geography will facilitate the growth of distinct communities that will each have its own character and language. Park towers, urban villages, riverfront communities, garden residences, or market districts, each district will be unique and made richer with their geographical and programmatic identity.

The goal is to grow 28 unique communities or barangays along the water’s edge. Each of the 28 communities will have its own development guidelines and will promote mixed-use development in each locality. Barrier-free developments with complete accessibility for all will be obligatory and urban infrastructure promoting social connectivity will be the defining framework for the city.

Horizon Manila is an alternative planning model for the megacities of tomorrow. Hyperlocal, intimate, accessible, and socially connected. These are the features that will allow us to function in the increasingly massive and dense urban regions of our world.

Framework: The proposed masterplan capitalizes on the development’s unique site by integrating canals to connect the three islands. This strategy is extended to the planning of the districts, creating a porous and publicly accessible fabric of urban blocks.

Quick Q&A:

Kanto was fortunate to grab a very quick interview with William Ti before he hopped on a plane to a site visit. Here’s Kanto’s quickie with the architect:

Congratulations! How did WTA get the job?

We were engaged by JBros Construction.

What’s the scope of your services?

Concept masterplanning and Phase 1 detailed masterplanning. Reclamation begins Q1 2022. We will be involved throughout the project up to the architecture of the public buildings. Right now, we’re just about to finish detailed masterplanning for Phase 1.

In what way is The Manileño concept a bottom-up model? What data gathering and feedback methods make it bottom-up?

Data from the LGU (local government unit). And I grew up walking Manila. I can walk you through Manila pretty much from Tondo to Binondo to Ermita and all the places in between. A bottom-up approach means we’re not planning this as a typical land-use plan where top-down command and control tools determine development. Instead, we are looking at each district and how they can grow and determining how they connect with each other.

The development seems comprised of retail and social activity centers, like a gargantuan we’ve-got-it-all-mall rather than families in a neighborhood sharing characteristics and a micro-culture. How will it be community-centric?

It’s actually comprised of 28 different districts centered on public spaces and plazas. What makes a complete neighborhood? It is not houses but, rather, access to public facilities that make a complete urban community. What makes a community a community are the shared experiences that they have of their neighborhood.

What do you mean by “hyper-local”?

It means every district should consist of a diversity of uses. Live-work-play within a 15-minute radius. Besides that, we are looking at the entire city as an accessible community with everywhere being within 400 meters away from the nearest tram station. Each community is centered around a piazza and a public building. These buildings determine the character of the district and also influence the development guidelines drawn up for each.

It’s so very upscale. Any strategies to make it diverse and inclusive, such as mixed-income housing and places the man on the street can enjoy for free?

There is a planned district for public housing that can accommodate ten thousand families. This has been planned in coordination with the mayor’s public housing project. There is a 70-hectare park on top of the plazas and squares, street courts, museums, theaters, libraries, a zoo, etc.

That area is awash in Manila, Pasay, and Paranaque’s garbage. What will be done about that and not add pollution to Manila Bay?

We will be having district sewage treatment plants in place for each island.

Tell us about the integrity and stability of the reclaimed land.

Same as Roxas Boulevard, which has pretty much stood for a hundred years.

How will Horizon Manila fare against tidal waves and storm surges?

The islands are three meters higher than the existing Ermita area. Their perimeters will be 70% lined with protective mangroves.

What about destruction of local ecosystems, mangroves that sustain marine life and nesting grounds for migratory birds?

There are no mangroves or fisheries in the area.

Mitigating changes in the chemical and biological content of the water?

No change. The fill will be coming from Manila Bay itself, so it’s moving sand from one area of the bay to another.

Whose views of Manila Bay will The Horizon block?

We’re three kilometers away from the shore. I would rather have the views be accessible to the public than for the condo owners along Roxas Boulevard.

Congratulations again for the win! Are you determined to attend in-person in Lisbon?

I will go only if there’s no quarantine protocol.

This is your sixth shortlisted project. Did you think this one stood a good chance of winning the WAFX?

I wasn’t expecting it at all. WAFX isn’t a category or a separate competition to join. We submitted our entry into the WAF, Masterplanning Future Project category. We were surprised when WAF emailed us to say that Horizon Manila won a WAF Futures Award. Nice surprise. Fun. Haha!

Well, then, bigger congratulations to you and WTA!

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