Manila Port: Gateway to the New Urban District

by Chengzhe Zhang (MLA ’19), Chenghao Lyu (MAUD ’18), Chi-Hsuan Wang (MArch ’19)

In order to transform the industrial site of the Port Area into a newly generated city, our team, with a focus on future user groups and activities, introduces new typologies and programs to the site.

Considering the diverse user groups that relocated to the Port Area, we find opportunities to generate new housing typologies, which try to conquer the issue of hierarchical segregation within the Philippines, and intend to trigger mutual interactions between inhabitants of different backgrounds. We hope these interactions will not just take place within public spaces but also within residential areas and neighborhoods.

Manila Port masterplan
Port site plan proposal.

The housing typologies are designed to accommodate different user groups. The act of integration implies the core principle for these dwellings: augmentation of social equality and enhancement of communal synergy. After the visit to the Manila Port, our team recognized the importance of civic lives for locals, and how public activities have become a primary element of people’s daily routines in Filipino culture. Keeping this understanding in mind, our designs are driven around the concern of how to connect and reconnect each gesture back to the larger network, both conceptually and physically. Wishing to preserve the animated atmosphere within the residential area, all building modules are placed and reoriented around a central public core, which could be used for community gardens, libraries, small exhibition spaces, temporary theaters, or simply as playground for residents. The placement of the public core is intended to ensure its accessibility by all units, while still following general building codes. The public core, which begins from the ground level, also provides the opportunity to associate with and even structurally relate to adjacent typologies; we wish to extend this shared space into a greater system.

The introduction of these new dwelling strategies is not only to provide more organized spaces to revive the spirited environment, but also to produce job opportunities for future residents. Discovering how many working class populations suffer from poor working conditions and frequently need to be separated from their families to work, we develop a type of housing unit that allows the workers to reside with their families while working on-site, in nearby facilities, or on the port. The worker housing units are not meant as another form of mundane dormitory, but are rather designed as livable spaces that contain shared dwelling chambers and open areas.

The shared spaces for BOH units are interconnected; the interweaving chambers allow inhabitants from different units to interact and socialize. The shared chambers act like another corridor system revolving around the elevator and egress core, which allow the workers to travel freely through different levels.

The main objective for the mixed-user housing is to try to integrate people from different backgrounds and minimize segregation by means of positive interaction. To activate the neighborhood, and even the surrounding communities, the residential tower is supported by a central atrium connecting the terrace garden and tower garden. This central atrium could be used for a variety purposes, such as a library, small classrooms, or simply open green space. The continuous public spaces within this piece of architecture will allow a series of interactions between residents.

We consider the school as one of the most important public facilities within our new urban district. It would provide equal educational opportunities for kids from different social classes, and more importantly, serve not only as an educational space, but also as a community center providing shared cultural and recreational public facilities that can be used by all the people from the community.

The use of this space can be divided into two time periods. During the day, it would function as a

school; after school, some of its facilities would open to the public, such as the basketball courts, cafeteria, library, auditorium, gallery, gathering spaces, and art-related classrooms (for music, dancing, fine arts), among other areas.

The spatial character of the educational space is inspired by the spontaneous settlement in Manila. There are two main inspirations. The first is the extraordinary diversity of the space within the spontaneous settlements. From our on-site experience, we find that kids gather and play in many spaces, from the rooftops to the streets, from terraces to courtyards. We think these void spaces of various sizes between building volumes provide opportunities for kids to occupy and use by themselves, and this play can stimulate their curiosity. The second inspiration is social equality. When we look at photographs of the spontaneous settlement in the city, we can immediately acknowledge that human beings live under the same sky. Conceptually, for the school and cultural center, everyone would study, communicate, and play under one single large roof. We see this as a metaphor of social equality: under this roof, people would share the space no matter where they come from.

We believe that the flexible spatial arrangement can create a unique learning environment for all of Manila.

Manila Port
A dynamic new social core that bisects through the site provides a critically needed public artery for the residents and the city of Manila.