L to R: Jorge Yulo, John Lucas, Terence Yu, Buds Wenceslao, Cathy Saldaña, and Clifford Pearson


Lessons from Anthology: Future cities depend on the present

Shelter Dialogues “Future Cities” underscored that simply building developments does not equate to building progressive communities

  • February 28, 2020

  • Written by Gabrielle de la Cruz

  • Images courtesy of Anthology Festival 2020

What makes a city? “It’s the services that people go to, what makes a city is how liveable it actually is,” answered John Lucas, Associate Director, consulting business leader at ARUP. The Anthology panel was moderated by Clifford Pearson, contributing editor of Architectural Record; with members Cathy Saldana, Managing Director of PDP Architects; Terence Yu, principal architect of Visionarch; Buds Wenceslao, Chief Executive Officer of ULI Philippines; and Jorge Yulo, principal architect of Jorge Yulo Architects, on a thorough discussion on planning and building future cities. 

“Before we plan or build cities, we have to reassess what we need to survive as opposed to what we aspire for,” said Jorge Yulo. Members of the panel focused on urban planning, saying that the problem with the architecture, building, and construction industries is that structures are focused on a vision, not on a solution. They elaborated that in order to plan diligently and build responsibly, planners and designers should look at what is lacking in the present and how can the architecture, building, and construction industries help in filling the holes. 

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“Create reasons for people to remain in the countryside”

Moderator Clifford Pearson said that we should not simply keep building and  developing cities, we should also think about improving rural areas. The panel members then reviewed what cities are supposed to be, saying that the word ‘city’ is not just a title, but a condition or state of a specific area. “Cities are all about progress, it’s not about the number of buildings that you do, it’s about how a building contributes to the entire community,” said Terence Yu. 

John Lucas: “The beauty about planning is that you get to see the problematic areas in the design.”
“We need to direct ourselves towards a certain goal and not just focus on what we want to look at,” Terence Yu said with regards to coming up with city plans.

“We can build city-like environments in provinces, I’d like to believe we’re starting to,” responded Cathy Saldaña, citing UNESCO creative cities Baguio and Cebu. The panel discussion then directed to imagining a future where there would be less congested areas, starting with Metro Manila. “I think another reason why people come to the city is that jobs are everywhere. If we in the industry can start building structures that provide those services for them, maybe we can convince them to stay in their hometowns,” suggested John Lucas. 

“Progressive cities are not just about buildings”

The conversation then led to proper land use and landscape architecture. “When I think of future cities I think about a mixture of buildings, homes, and greenery that breathe together,” shared Buds Wenceslao. The panelists addressed that sustainability is an integral part of design and should never be compensated for the sake of building structures. 

Saldaña’s last remark: “It’s never about plans of the government or those in a certain business. When we plan, we always plan for the people and for the world we live in.”
Jorge Yulo: “The future is not much of a worry if we start facing the problems of today.”

“When we do plans for our cities, we should not just envision how the trees and plants will surround our buildings. We should also think about the way trees could grow, if flowers could flourish,” Yu exclaimed. “Not only that, as city planners, we also have to think about the small things, like how much of the soil will be affected, how we can maximize the landscape area,” Saldaña added. Talking to both students and professionals, the panelists reminded the audience of the value of nature in architecture, and how protecting the environment should always come first.

The dialogue started with the question: “How can we plan and build cities?” It ended up answering: “We need to redefine what a city is.”

READ MORE: Lessons from Anthology: Architecture is not just about visual and functionality

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