BANNER PHOTO: Landscape Architect Paulo Alcazaren's conceptualization for the redesign of Plaza del Carmen, located near San Sebastian church. Photo by author.
We all complain of the daily traffic, the voluminous amount of vehicles on the road, and the apparent lack of roads in the metropolis. However, for landscape architect Paulo Alcazaren, the real problem does not involve all of these issues the everyday Filipino would rant about.
In fact, Alcazaren has a more interesting proposal: Instead of adding more roads, the Philippines should focus on developing more open spaces such as parks and plazas.
Landscape Architect Paulo Alcazaren during the "Plazas, Cities, and Urban Design" talk. Photo by author.
“We should recover space for people, and not cars!” Alcazaren exclaimed, during his talk entitled “Plazas, Cities, and Urban Design” at Yuchengco Museum in Makati City on September 9.
During his presentation, Alcazaren noted that through history, open spaces such as parks and plazas played an important role in designing a city. Aside from making a city more organized with a clean layout of where key buildings such as churches and municipal halls are located, open spaces act as a place of refuge and relief from open spaces.
Sadly, Alcazaren noted that it seems that architects are not focusing on making a city not just more humane, but more economically and socially sustainable, evident with present real estate-related issues happening in the Philippines these days.
While there are remaining plazas around Metro Manila that still exists, Alcazaren does think that a little redesign and some vision can help in bringing these plazas back to life, and make Metro Manila be at par with cities like Paris, France.
“We have good public spaces that can be reclaimed and reutilized,” Alcazaren said, referring to the remaining plazas in Manila, which includes Plaza Roma, Plaza San Lorenzo Ruiz, and Plaza del Carmen.
How Alcazaren reimagines these plazas? By adding more trees, benches, and walkways, and making them “selfie-approved” for those visiting these plazas. While it may lessen the spaces for cars, Alcazaren points out that designing a city should give more emphasis to humans over cars and buildings.
“Build with a balance of architecture and open space,” he added.
In fact, he said that such vision is not impossible, as evident with the case of Iloilo Esplanade and Pasig Civic Center.
Iloilo Esplanade is a perfect example of what Alcarzen meant about making open spaces for people. Photo from Choose Philippines.