Jul 12, 2017

Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada approved a 407.42-hectare land reclamation project in February. On July 9, South China Morning Post reported that architectural firm ho & partners architects (hpa) has been chosen to manage the project at an estimated valuation of US$100 billion.

Dubbed as the City of Pearl, the project is part of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s attempt to revive the trade along the land-based and maritime Silk Road. With the objective of boosting the economy and alleviating the exhausting traffic congestion, the City of Pearl is expected to be a self-sufficient venue for both residential and commercial spaces. The city within a city will also feature a shopping district, the Pac-man stadium, a beach, and an efficient transportation system.

“We want the City of Pearl to provide mobility to the young people of the Philippines. It is a city for the future of the country,” Nicholas Ho, deputy managing director of hpa, told South China Morning Post. According to the report, President Rodrigo Duterte and Mayor Estrada are both supportive of the project.

It sounds good, right? It seems like Atlantis is rising from the waters, but what are the dangers of land reclamation? And, what are the benefits of it?

Environmental factors
Let’s be honest: Land reclamation poses danger to the environment especially to marine life. Although Manila Bay is not as alive as El Nido, Palawan, land reclamation can still disrupt the existing marine life there and, possibly, in nearby areas. Aside from the disruption of the ecosystem, reclaimed land areas are also prone to liquefaction. As a result, earthquakes can easily make tremendous damages.

While those threats are present, land reclamation can also help fight the rising sea levels. The Dutch and Belgians have been using land reclamation to put up a coast defense system against the rising sea levels. Parts of the Philippines are expected to submerge due to global warming, but this is one issue the City of Pearl could hopefully address. Although the project promises the use of renewable energy and a central park, we hope that this reclamation project will be really kind to nature (despite the probable threats) and will also target to revive the Manila Bay.

More opportunities
As said before, this new reclamation project will help the economy. While the plan reveals the abundance of skyscrapers, there are more opportunities the City of Pearl could explore. To begin with, green architecture can be utilized to make sure that the reclamation will not trigger more environmental problems. Aside from that, the development could also look into the incorporation of agriculture to an urban space.

In Japan, the Ogata village in Akita reclaimed land for agriculture. The agricultural land was established on Lake Hachigorata. By following what they did, we can address the issues of food security, employment, and environment.

Previous reclamation projects
When done right and with accuracy, land reclamation is definitely safe. Reclamation projects have been done all over the world for so long. South Korea, China, Japan, and other countries have been doing it. The Manila Bay area is reclaimed. The Entertainment City, Cultural Center of the Philippines Complex, and the SM Mall of Asia stand on reclaimed land.

Header image courtesy of South China Morning Post

Read more:
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Check out these local eco-friendly structures outside the metro
These five NCCA-awarded structures are a short trip away
Remembering the Manila Metropolitan Theater

TAGS: architecture City of Pearl development Ho and Projects land reclamation Nicholas Ho reclamation