The creation of a cultural district in downtown Manila centered on the rehabilitation of the Metropolitan Theater, more commonly known as the Met, was proposed by WTA Architecture and Design Studio, an architecture firm focused on urban development projects.
Just in time for the initial conservation work on the 85-year-old Art Deco structure, the proposal seeks to connect the Met to the various unique features and attractions in the district to create a stronger centrality and culturally intense lifestyle node.
“The plan allows for a place that is not socially segregated and gives Manila a core which can attract more organized and gentrified development and planning,” said William Ti, principal architect of WTA Architecture and Design Studio. “This is ideal as a cultural hub because of the nostalgic and symbolic value that the existing structures still have.”
Complemented by an array of cafés, dining and retail spaces, the Met will serve as the anchor of the district. Arcaded walkways will surround the establishments arranged around the courtyard on the ground level.
Included in the district
The cultural district will also include the repurposing of other notable buildings and areas in Manila, the Park N’ Ride Building, the old Nawasa (National Water and Sewerage Authority) building, the rehabilitation of the Mehan Garden and the redevelopment of the GSIS (Government Service Insurance System) building into a lifestyle mall.
The proposal, posted on WTA’s Facebook page, has gained much online attention with almost 300 shares and 20,000 hits. Netizens expressed strong approval and support for the plan. Some even added suggestions that can be integrated to address the city’s many problems.
When asked what the chances are of this plan being implemented, WTA stated in the comment threads that they are hoping for the best, especially since the plan can be incorporated into the recently commenced rehabilitation of the Metropolitan Theater. “This study was originally commissioned by a client of ours.” according to the comment. “Hopefully the city government will find some points in this idea that they can implement or this at least gets them to start thinking.”
On the question of sustainability, WTA asked back through another Facebook comment, ” Is it too hard to imagine a redevelopment that pays for itself?” It indicated that the idea was for the proposal to be viable by paying itself back through the commercialization of the Park N’ Ride building.
WTA Architecture and Design Studio, established in 2007, is composed of about 100 architects and designers working on over 300 projects in different stages of development all over the country. It is also one of the top 10 architectural firms in the Philippines for 2015 as cited by BCI Asia. The firm is actively involved in various global architecture programs, including the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale and the 2015 World Architecture Festival.
With the firm being an advocate for better livable urban communities, WTA articulated the importance of the role of architects and planners.
Ti concluded: “In the end, we must decide what kind of cities we would like to live in and make it so. Giving up on Manila, after all, is not an option for us, just as we believe that’s why we are here giving our ideas in hopes of getting things to change.”
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