Design contest calls on millennials to find ways to maximize Intramuros’ space

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SITE D (marked in red) is one of the areas up for development into a training area for Escuella Taller de Filipinas. — ETFFI

MILLENNIALS are being tapped to reimagine and come up with creative ideas on how to maximize spaces in Intramuros, Manila. The catch and the challenge: they must keep it true to the image and ambiance of the famed walled city.

The Escuella Taller de Filipinas Foundation, Inc. (ETFFI), a nonprofit organization specializing in training out-of-school youths in heritage restoration skills, is holding the design competition — which is open to young Filipino designers and students — with the goal of developing the presently idle areas near the Manila City Hall and Manila Bulletin building.

The deadline for submission of entries is on April 30.

The spaces to be developed are meant for ETFFI’s workshop and training programs. Escuella Taller currently has 47 trainees. The students undertake their workshops and training in plumbing, masonry, metalwork, painting and finishing, and carpentry and wood working in the Revellin de Recoletos and at the Aurora Gardens where ETFFI holds office.

“So from the designers, we’re trying to elicit ideas, design ideas, that could still help us build and expand our workshop areas. But this is not limited to architectural designs alone, but a more holistic design approach and treatment to the space is what we really want,” Philip A. Paraan, ETFFI Communications and Special Projects officer, told BusinessWorld via e-mail.

Since 2009, ETFFI has been training out-of-school youths, age 17 to 25, in the skills needed for the preservation of tangible heritage. It has seven ongoing rehabilitation projects in the country, which are the Malate Church, Paco Park, Jesuit House, Apalit Church in Pampanga, Ivatan houses in Batanes, the Maribojoc Church complex in Bohol, and the walls of Intramuros.

It will be adding other workshops, this time on traditional embroidery and dying crafts, in August.

The design competition is being held in anticipation of its growing programs and increasing the number of students and their need for bigger working spaces. But the challenge is that the space’s masterplan should take into consideration the limitations that the Intramuros Administration (IA) requires.

Established in 1979, the IA oversees the restoration, development, and promotion of the walled city. IA, according to its website, “shall ensure that the general appearance of Intramuros shall conform to Philippine-Spanish architecture of the 16th to the 19th century.” Its vision is to be an “iconic tourism site that honors the Philippines’ glorious past — a thriving and vibrant future-proof livable city, built on a foundation of shared values and a genuine Filipino sense of community.”

The IA has authorized the ETFFI, which occupies the Revellin de Recoletos on Victoria St. and Taft Ave., to expand its area that is bounded by the Baluarte de San Andres, the curtain wall toward Victoria St., Revellin de Recoletos, and a public parking lot.

“We’re near the walls, or the fortifications, so that’s the biggest consideration. The design should conform to what we need, should be creative, yet should be faithful with the rules. For instance, we cannot build anything permanent, that’s according to Intramuros Administration’s rules. The structures, if we were to build them, should also be consistent with the heritage fabric of the whole Intramuros as a heritage district,” said Mr. Paraan.

It is hoped that the result of the design competition, which the IA and ETFFI put up together, will be a “model for the contemporary and sympathetic use of space adjacent to heritage structures.”

ETFFI further said that the competition will “enhances the preservation, appearance, and relevance of Intramuros fortifications” while promoting awareness and critical thinking “among young Filipino designers and students in redefining space used within the context of a heritage site.”

For more information about the competition, visit Faustine P. de Guzman