San Miguel Corp (SMC) has left no doubt as to its vision to build the country’s most sustainable and resilient city.
SMC president and chief operating officer Ramon S. Ang recently announced that the company has tapped “green” architect and urban planner Felino “Jun” Palafox to help master plan its airport city development in Bulacan, as well as integrate sustainability features into its upcoming Pasig River Expressway (Parex) and other future infrastructure projects.
Palafox will also help find ways to sustainably retrofit the company’s existing road networks to further meet social, economic and environmental needs.
Palafox, founder and head of architectural firm Palafox Associates, is one of the country’s top urban planners, known for advocating and incorporating sustainable features and environment planning into its projects.
“From the beginning, we made it very clear that for both the airport and airport city projects, we will make sure that that they are designed with sustainability in mind, ensuring protection and enhancement of the environment, and positive social impacts. I am very glad that Architect Palafox has joined us on this mission to build the best and most sustainable airport, city, and infrastructure network in our country,” said Ang.
He said that in building the airport city development, which is separate from the airport development itself, both SMC and Palafox are looking to correct some of the shortcomings in the development of other urban centers, including Makati and BGC.
“What we hope to do is have even better urban planning for the airport city. First, access will not be a problem, we want to avoid traffic jams which is the result of poor transportation and limited road networks leading into and out of the airport city. Second, we want to improve on open spaces, to have more of them, perhaps make them interconnect. Parks, wider pedestrian areas, dedicated bicycle paths—these are just some of the things we want to include in the masterplan,” Ang related.
“We also want to enhance the natural environment while minimizing our impact on them. Most importantly, we will incorporate design and engineering measures to mitigate environmental risks,” he added.
Apart from helping master plan the airport city development, Ang said that Palafox is also being tapped as a consultant for all its upcoming expressway and mass transit projects, including the Parex project, which includes the much-awaited rehabilitation of the Pasig River.
“Our expressway projects are all designed to decongest Metro Manila’s major roads by diverting more private vehicles and freeing up space for commuters and public transportation. But they are also designed to serve as a platform for other modes of mobility, including mass transportation such as bus rapid transit (BRT) or high-capacity point-to-point (P2P) transport systems. Palafox will help us bring all these to reality,” Ang explained.
Apart from BRT, Ang said the company is looking to incorporate more people-centric, sustainable urban design into all its future projects.
“In the last 30 years, our population has grown so much. There are millions of cars on the road. But our urban planning and the number of roads did not increase. So for the most part, what government has been doing is to catch up. For our part, for more than a decade now, we have also been investing significantly on infrastructure, to help address these problems and provide long-term and scalable solutions,” Ang explained.
“For our next-generation developments, like the airport, airport city, Parex, and expressway and mass rail projects benefitting our provinces, we can be more deliberate and purposive in terms of urban planning and design. We can incorporate learnings from previous developments in the country and around the world,” he added.
For example, Ang noted that with plans to include mass transport systems on elevated expressways, work can commence on creating more pedestrian lanes, bicycle lanes, and even parks on public roads and spaces.
“This is where Palafox can help us greatly, because he is a visionary with a lot of great ideas and solutions to start solving problems we encounter living in our cities today. It will be a process and it will take time, but I believe we will have better, more efficient, more comfortable and pleasant cities interconnected by sustainable infrastructure in the future,” Ang said.
Palafox has led and managed Palafox Associates in the planning of over 16 billion sqm of land, and the design and architecture of more than 12 million sqm of building floor area in 38 countries. The firm has also received more than 200 awards and recognitions in the past 25 years, most notably as the first Filipino architectural firm included in the Top 500 Architectural Firms in the World of the London-based World Architecture Magazine in 1999, the only Southeast Asian architectural firm included in the list.
His landmark projects include the urban planning of Dubai and Sharjah Healthcare City in the United Arab Emirates, the Phu Quoo Island Master Plan in Vietnam, and Sudan Bonyan City in Khartoum.