Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Work! Day 1


And so it begins...our intensive labour of love! Enough galavanting to faraway site visits like Carmona Cavite - a town floating in rice fields an hour outside of Manila, or Santa Rosa - where CCT is negotiating property for development right alongside a railroad slum community, or even Tagaytay - where we find the Taal Volcano, dormant for 30 years.

To the drafting tables!

For this whole week, we have the privilege of working with four Hong Kong architects (Davis, Fred, Robert and Fan) and one urban planner (Frank), practitioners who've donated their time to help us with our designs. I'd better take the time to mention our contact and facilitator for this whole venture - Freeman Chan. It was through him that we came to Manila and through his contacts that we were introduced to the projects we are now engaged in. And it's through him that we have the opportunity to work with such knowledgable people from Hong Kong.

Today was the first day we spent almost entirely indoors. We have a deadline already - we need to present our ideas in a comprehensive manner on Saturday to the board of CCT, so that they can look for financing for the projects.

We are focusing primarily on three projects, which will in turn inform our decision-making for the three or four other projects we have on our list. So we all divided up according to our interests and began...

One project, Carmona Cavite, is a site that has been purchased in a rural setting that will house ten families. These families lived previously in the town of Cavite under the highway bridge on government land. The government has recently decided to expand the overpass and has demolished the houses. We visited the the demolition site and had the chance to speak with some of the previous owners of the now destroyed houses. They all expressed a desire for each to have the same house size and shape, so that they could all be equal. This is despite the fact that one of the ten families has 9 children! I have a vested interest in this project in particular because I grew up on construction sites and would like to explore affordable housing in the futur. Yet the concept of having equal housing for small and big families alike seems absurd. We are scheduled to have a lecture on the Filipino Concept of Space later this week. Hopefully this upcoming session will put my mind to rest. The relocation lot is 120 sq.m. and must house ten families...that leaves 10 sq.m. each...equally. Good news is that my team has two of the five working with us: Davis, Fred, Me, Matt and Andrea. This project requires all of our knowledge, imagination and innovative skills to come up with a viable solution.

Another project is the property in Santa Rosa. This team consists of the most members: Frank, Robert, Yan, Jillian, Cindy, Hans and Omar. This property must accomodate between 400-500 houses, including circulation and communal spaces and facilities, as well as a potential school and church. This group has started hashing out numbers - for density, housing area, housing cost, etc. I am excited to see how the master plan will develope.

The third project is the one in Tagaytay - a training and retreat center. This is a project that CCT has envisioned as a way to serve the people. This would be a place of people empowerment, were the focus would be on teaching the poor - emphasizing entrepreneurship and business management. This is a beautiful, visionary project that Fan and Manu are diligently working on with the quiet wisdom of Freeman.

It was a long day, but we made good progress...now that we have a regular schedule, we just need to worry about how we're going to manage our eating habits.....

Comments:
Hello guys!

Congratulations for your first activities in the field. We are all very proud of you. I wish you the best for the work with the community. I am sure you are learning many new things. Keep working hard! and hope to see you soon and hear more stories about the experience there.

Gonzalo Lizarralde
 
Wow, sounds like you have all had some great experiences already! I am so proud of you all for doing this. I am very pleased you have the blog too, so we can hear about your work. The projects look very interesting and it seems that you have some clearly defined goals. I am interested to know more about this filipino concept of space you are talking about! Sounds like people live in some pretty small spaces.

Good luck to you all and I will check back again soon.
 
I agree about making all housing units equal in space.Otherwise it would seem that you are encouraging people to have larger families hence larger houses ...
 
Your blog is the next best thing to being there. Keep it up. I hope your enthusiasm continues as you encounter the inevitable bureaucratic hurdles that can dampen even the most idealistic planners.
Jerry Wiviott
 
Thanks for the comments.. it's nice to see that we are generating some interest.

Regarding the equal housing unit size, the main reason for it being this way is that the families want to have the same amount of space. They have agreed that they will have no more than the poorest of the 10 can afford. There doesn't seem to be any link between family and house size.. a family will have more children and cram them in somehow.
 
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