New Clark City: The Anatomy of a People-Centric City

There is an emerging city that has been creating a lot of buzz lately. As one of the sites of a historic sports meet, its colossal stadiums, huge aquatic center, and new athletes’ village are always on the news. It is in everyone’s consciousness, as a world-class infrastructure complete with such amenities was unbelievably built from scratch.

Unbelievable. This is perhaps the most fitting description for New Clark City, considering the barren, unused land it was sitting on years before. Unbelievable, because the sports complex was completed years before it should be. Unbelievable, because it is ambitious, idealistic, almost utopian – and yet it is here.

The Birth of a New City

The New Clark City was borne out of a pressing, palpable need: Manila’s congestion. In 2017, President Duterte gave an ominous warning that the capital city will be “dead in 25 years,” as he lamented the horrible traffic situation in the metro. However, amid the gloomy forecast, there remains a glimmer of hope. If developments outside Manila will emerge, there is a good chance that the urban locale will be able to ‘breathe’ again.

It was in that 2017 speech in Pampanga when President Duterte singled out Clark, saying, “[It] is a very important arterial place… and the development, because it is very important that we disperse the industries.”

Two years later, speaking at The Outlook 2019 conference, Bases and Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) President and CEO Vivencio “Vince” Dizon, the man behind the “unbelievable” construction of the New Clark City, echoed the need for people redistribution and development of key locations outside Manila.

He emphasized the absurdity of the problem the imperial city is facing, “Everyone wants to move to the big city. Good money, good jobs, a place to be productive. But the paradox is that cities don’t work for people, even though they’re full of them.”

“It’s a pressure cooker of congestion, pollution, and rent you can’t afford,” he added.

As much as people go to cities to work there, the cities should also work for the people. Otherwise, it is going to be another pressure cooker of congestion in the making.

Dizon asserted, “Cities must be built for people.”

The People-Centric City

If one would look at the urban areas of progressive countries, it is apparent that vast spaces and patches of land, as well as nature-inspired sceneries, were made for people to walk on, hang out in, and simply enjoy.

Citing Shinjuku Gyoen Garden in Tokyo, Little India in Singapore, Cheonggyecheon Stream in Seoul, and La Rambla in Barcelona, the BCDA’s President and CEO showed that it is possible for busy, fast-paced cities to experience the peace and quiet of modern life. That is, if cities are built with people – not cars, not buildings, not even road infrastructures – as the top priority. 

The New Clark City, as Dizon confidently shared, is being built for people.

Touted as “the vision of a modern Philippines”, the 9,450-hectare metropolis in Tarlac is set to reflect a people-centered urban design through eco-friendly, sustainable features, Filipino-centric designs and aesthetics, and mobility-oriented infrastructures.

“Clark is envisioned to have the vibrancy of a city without the pressure of city life,” Dizon said.

The low-carbon-footprint city is designed in such a way that public utilities will use green energy sources, such as liquefied natural gas and solar power. At the same time, there will be minimal disruption to the natural features of the land, which meant preserving the river and much of the tree-filled terrain. Lahar, which is volcanic debris, will be mixed with concrete to be used in the construction of the buildings. This reduces the pollution from the particulate matter emitted into the atmosphere.

As for the heritage and identity of the city, its standing structures are already a testament to this. The Athletics Stadium is designed to replicate the crater of Mt. Pinatubo. The Aquatics Center, on the other hand, used capiz shells as windows, while the structural beams are reminiscent of the weaving patterns of fishnets that Filipinos use in rural areas.

Meanwhile, to increase the mobility of people, the construction of key infrastructures are already ongoing or in the pipeline. This includes the Clark International Airport Expansion and Manila-Clark High-Speed Railway.

By 2022, Phase 1 of the New Clark City development will be completed. By then, the public will be able to see not only the athletic stadium, aquatic center, and the athletes’ village, but also retail facilities, healthcare centers, educational institutions, and commercial hubs. 

Aside from decongesting Manila, the rise of the new city in Clark will trigger growth in this part of Luzon, and make economic progress a lot more inclusive.

Reiterating the words of Jan Gehl, a global leader in people-centered urban design, Dizon affirms, “First life, then spaces, then buildings — the other way around never works.”

Check out Lamudi’s The Outlook E-magazine for more articles about trends to watch in the industry. For more details about The Outlook 2020: Philippine Buyers’ Choice Property Awards, visit lamudi.com.ph/outlook2020

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