The Philippines is one of the most-disaster prone areas in the world. Every year the country is visited by an average of 20 typhoons that causes landslide and flooding resulting in damages to infrastructures, residences, and loss of life.
Manila, its capital city, is densely populated and known for its traffic jams and heavy congestions. Eighty kilometres north from the nation’s capital is the Clark Air Base a former US military facility back in 1903 to 1991 and presently hosts the Philippine Air Force.
The area is visualised to become a sustainable and climate change-resilient city, one with open green spaces, wide and tree-shaded sidewalks comfortable and safe for people to walk.
The New Clark City will be an antithesis to Metro Manila, a densely populated, traffic-stricken, with narrow sidewalks too risky to walk at night. It also helps that the area of more elevated and away from earthquake fault lines.
According to Arnel Casanova, former chief of the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) when he pitched the project in 2012 some of the government officials at the time dismissed the whole thing as ‘crazy’. A decade later, his vision is making a lot of sense if one considers the billions of pesos lost every day due to the traffic congestion in Metro Manila.
The New Clark City will sit on a 9,450 hectare of land in Capas Tarlac. Still, only a third of the land will be developed into a mixed-use township comprising of residential and commercial buildings, governments offices, leaving the most of the area preserved as green spaces. The city will be able to accommodate 1.2 million residents and 800 thousand workers.
Vivencio Dizon, president of the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA), says that “public utilities will use sources like solar power, liquefied natural gas, and waste-to-energy facilities while buildings will be designed to use little energy” (Danigelis, 2018).
This state-owned firm converts former military bases and properties into economic hubs, and also the one managing and oversees the entire development. The green areas will help in water storage and drainage and will guide street design, offering residents recreational and social enjoyment, and sustainability.
Building the metropolis has already started its first phase (out of 3) of development, which will be completed in 2022. It’s 50-hectare Sports Complex was completed in time for the shared hosting of the Southeast Asian Games in November and December 2019.
The concept of a sustainable and resilient city would seem like a “crazy” idea, especially for a developing country, and one that has high social inequality and a wide wealth gap.
But with increasing threats of climate change and the massive losses from the increasing frequency and intensity of natural calamities, investing in resilient infrastructures and sustainable cities that can address present and future threats make sense and could save lives and high costs in the long-term.
PHOTO CREDIT: Main gate of the Clark Freeport Zone in Angeles by Ramon FVelasquez – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30993434