2015 trends in architecture, urban planning and real estate


First of two parts

LET’S end 2014 and start 2015 with an optimistic outlook. No one can accurately predict the future, but in our professios where we plan, design, and engineer future communities and cities, we are always on the lookout for the latest innovations that will propel our professions and designs forward.

Here are our expected and continued global trends in architecture, planning, and design:

Focus on the behavior of Millennials and Baby Boomers
Almost all major businesses are looking thoroughly into the preferences and behavior of these two generations as they become the major consumers and users of new spaces. These two generations may present, at first glace, unequal and diverse requirements, but essentially, their needs and preferences are quite similar. Today’s millennial generation have been raised into adulthood by the baby boomer generation, so things like economic mobility, continuing education, preferences for urban-like places, use of public transit, and prime modes of transportation like walking and biking have all been observed in both generations, which will continue to influence how the built environment is planned and designed.

Multi-family housing construction
More people (especially those from the millennial generation) are moving into the city because of their proximity to their places of work all around the world. And these have propelled architects and planners to design developments that would answer the projected saturation of the housing market. A direct result of the changing family size and dynamics have spurred developments in multifamily housing in the Philippines. Multifamily housing ranges from low-rise apartments to high-rise condominiums, and they will continue to be a popular choice for consumers in the next decade.

Mixed uses and vertical, compact developments will continue to increase economic value
Compact, mixed-use developments provide economic benefits to developers through higher property values, marketability, and quicker sales and leasing, especially among baby boomers and millennials. The resurgence of urban development through vertical urbanism is helping provide more compact, high-rise residential housing for key workers.

Based on the data provided by Council for Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) on the number of under construction and proposed buildings in the Philippines, the number of residential and office/residential buildings still dominate the list and all of them are conveniently located in the cusp or within walking distance from each of the major central business districts in Metro Manila. Efforts made by private developers to help proliferate vertical urbanism in order to minimize suburban sprawl, decrease the country’s carbon footprint, and save more space for the development of green open spaces hopes to inspire future developers and leaders to help shape a more conducive cityscape.

Sustainable, resilient architecture will be a big thing
New York, Singapore, Hong Kong, and other progressive cities are adapting sustainability and resiliency into their future plans, now that climate change has made its presence felt all around the world. Typhoon Haiyan was a grim reminder that the country’s existing crisis management systems and adaptive capacities is in dire need of re-framing to generate new and long-term alternatives. Each city varies enormously in terms of adaptation and vulnerability, two important factors that determine a city’s resiliency. Just like societies, a city’s adaptive capacity is dependent on governance, institutions, technology, wealth and the propensity to plan. A city’s resilience must be looked at from the business context and the human context.

Retail-tainment will remain a big real estate player
Increasing spending power equals to more diversified choices. Thus, expect more retail developments in the Philippines that will cater to an overall retail experience. Our commercial centers and shopping malls are slowly turning into small cities with integrated mixed-use and multi-use developments. Shopping malls have now expanded to include hotels, offices, residential spaces, and bridges to transportation
More focus on health and wellness
Walkable cities are livable, healthier cities. This has become a global advocacy by architects, designers, and planners. The US, for example, have taken the issues on health and wellness to a macro scale through infrastructure developments, improvements and government policies that promote people to walk, bike, or take the public transit. However, there is a knowledge gap between research on human health and wellness with implementation in the built environment. Well-designed and well-planned buildings and spaces lead to better health outcomes elsewhere in the world and the principles that the Philippines can adapt to.

3D printing will change how designers and clients see their designs
3D printers have revolutionized how we view tangible things. It makes an architect and designer’s visions one step closer to reality and in turn, help clients better visualize their visions that computer renderings and animations might not be able to convey accurately. Architects and designers can now test each structural element of their designs and improve design efficiency early in the design process. This significant advancement in technology will drive the practice and change the design process for the better as 3D printers continue to evolve in size and capacity. Down the road, we might be able to print building components to scale.

(Part 2 appears next week)


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  1. wilmer andrada on

    The Philippines should adopt a Marshall Plan to eliminate our slums and squatter problem and it should be given a national priority. I have suggested in my several comments that we should copy Israel’s old model of Kibbutzim in our mass resettlement . This will all be government sponsored and will be designed for self sustainment.. Another option will be the mass production of mobile homes to replace all the slums Each community should have a Park District , waste management and sanitary districts which will be tax based, All construction should go to a planning and development process and there should be a code enforcement for all existing buildings and homes together with an environmental regulatory system. Our leaders should also learn the art and science of outsourcing to multi national corporation to help us design and plan out metro areas transportation, infrastructure, crowd control etc. Disney Corporation will have the expertise and the brains to transform Metro Manila into a wonderland with different teams all over complete with monorails and electric transport .The water passages and banks along the Pasig river can be dredged and cleaned to make it a little Venice or Bosphorus River .All the public markets should be designed with emphasis on beauty and cleanliness like Singapore. Shangri-La or Four Seasons can pull out our International Airport and domestic airport from the worst airport in the world.to the top.Japan can partner with us on a bullet train from Ilocos To Bicol. Cut all the red tape and bureaucracy to make way for international corporations to set shops in the Philippines like what they do in China. Clean our Government of corruption and pass the Freedom of Information Bill.

    • Sounds good. Except the reality in the government is truly a challenge. I read about streamlining the bureaucracy and cutting the red Tape more than 30 years ago in 1982 under the Marcos regime. The news dispensation spoke of the same after EDSA 1. Then 18 years after Cory in 1992, her son Noynoy became President in 2010 whose administration is characterized by sheer incompetence and unbridled corruption in spite of their Daan na Matuwid which has proven to be a sham. Any change, if any, will be after the term of President B.S. Aquino III in 30 June 2016.

  2. Eliseo Jr. P.Tenza on

    All planning will come to naught if there will be nobody pushing for its implementation.
    The Philippines needs somebody to do the Master Plan for development for the next twenty years.
    I believe that if we have an Architect/Planner for Vice President of the Philippines, the development of the Philippines will not be ad hoc but well planned. There will be a real authority for the proper Master Planning, and implementation. As what I see right now developers are developing projects anywhere they want to. This has resulted in chaos specially traffic jams, fires spread, floodings. You see malls side by side increasing the volume of traffic tremendously.There is no proper Master plan for the infrastructure.
    I will stress again, that what we need is an authority in the Administration who can push, plan, and implement a Master Plan for the Philippines. I recommend the writer to run for the vice Presidency of the Philippines.

    • While Jun has all the expertise in urban planning, he needs the support of the Chief Executive to implement his plans. Hence, foremost that will be implemented by the next Chief Executive will be his proposal for the canal from Laguna Lake to Manila Bay. That will prevent further floods in Metro Manila when another Ondoy comes or if ever Laguna Lake overflows. Another plan is to create in every congressional district Planning Council that shall include an urban planner and an architect for re-zoning of all cities and municipalities under a Master Plan that takes into account the demographics and cultural nuances of particular areas. That will also help towards higher tax collection of real estate taxes.