Over the past six months, there has been a rapid shift to reevaluating our built environment as disasters such as the COVID-19 pandemic affects our way of living.
The Urban Land Institute (ULI) Philippines recently held a conference centered on sustainability and resilience in the real estate industry, and explored smarter approaches to the country’s assets, technology, infrastructure, and cities.
Delfin “Buds” Wenceslao, former ULI Philippines chair and CEO of D.M. Wenceslao and Associates, Inc. (DMWAI), acknowledged that the past few months “have been challenging, not just in real estate but for everyone in all industries included.”
“There have been a lot of discussions about resilience, livability, and sustainability and while this is a Philippine conference, we at ULI continue to provide these kinds of content, speakers, and open discussions about global issues which are extremely relevant within our local industry,” he said.
Hungry for innovation
Co-founder and CEO of CUBO Modular Earl Forlales expounded on accelerating sustainable building in his opening keynote speech. He explained how he took the principles behind the “bahay kubo” or bamboo hut; its design, material, and construction methods which he then used to create a potent solution to the affordable housing crisis facing modern cities and other rural areas.
“The Philippine real estate and construction industry is hungry for innovation and that’s how you know that something great and something big is about to come,” he explained. “It will take our collective effort to make our cities and communities better for my generation, your generation, and all generations that are to come.”
Rafael Fernandez de Mesa, first vice president of operations for AboitizLand Inc., presented how industrial use can serve as a solution for the decongestion of the country’s megacities and could serve as a catalyst for sustainable mixed-use development.
He highlighted AboitizLand’s projects in MEZ II in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu and LIMA Land in Lipa, Batangas. “We are ready to help the country get back on its feet in cooperation with the national government’s program and initiatives that promote an equitable distribution of resources throughout the country, particularly by encouraging Filipinos to return to their home provinces and assist them in transition and support incentives,” he declared.
Reducing workplace density
Managing partner at Pinehurst Advisory Peter Succoso, talked about dormitory housing, which he claimed had the attributes for the rapid spread of viruses. Distancing requirements will force a design change in rooms which will essentially reduce the density of occupants per unit, he predicted. “The design of future dormitories will seek to provide better natural ventilation, will use materials that resist bacteria and are easy to clean, will provide more space and areas where workers are most likely to congregate such as quarters, recreational space, canteens, and many more,” he said
Lars Wittig, country Manager of IWG Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, and S. Korea at IWG Plc. emphasized distributing business opportunities and office locations outside the central business districts to provide employees flexible and new ways of working to reduce workplace density, “Even with the vaccine in place, I don’t think anybody will want to be locked into the traditional workspace in big numbers,” he pointed out.
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