Makati’s growth was the golden age of urban planning – expert

Makati’s development in the 1950s and 1960s ushered in the country’s “golden age of modernist architecture and planning”, an industry expert said.

During a webinar hosted by the Philippines Management Association on Wednesday, environmental planner and landscape architect and director of PGA Creative Design Arch. Paulo Alcazaren traced how Makati evolved into the city it is known for today.

The central business district of Makati. According to renowned architect and urban planner Paolo Alcazaren. PHOTO BY AARON RONQUILLO

“Makati’s success came from the strategy of following a massive plan, adapting the massive plan as things changed, and imposing a strict plan regime which was controlled by the formation of a very strong,” he explained.

He noted that this was a lesson replicated by some business districts across the country, such as the Bonifacio Global City Estate Association at Bonifacio Global City in Taguig City and the Ortigas Center Association Inc. at Ortigas Center in Pasig City.

Makati was originally an estate created in 1670 by the Jesuits, which was called Hacienda de San Pedro de Macati. After the expulsion of the Jesuits in 1767, ownership of the land changed hands until 1851 when Don Jose Bonifacio de Roxas, an ancestor of the Zobel de Ayala family, purchased the hacienda for 52,800 pesos, thus beginning the ties between the Zobel family of Ayala and Makati.

After World War II, the Ayala company embarked on “real estate development in the service of post-war growth”, according to Alcazaren.

The Ayalas began subdividing their 1,650-hectare hacienda, converting parts into low-cost housing projects.

Five of Makati’s 11 areas have been allocated to residential villages. The village of San Lorenzo was launched in 1952, Bel Air in 1954, Urdaneta in 1957, San Miguel in 1960, Magallanes and Dasmarinas in 1962.

Alcazaren said initial planning for the town showed it was not just an area for residential and commercial development, but was also viable for a light industrial settlement.

In 1952, the Ayala Corp. launched plans for the development of a modern urban center. Streets were built and a modern sewage treatment plant was launched. Thirty-five wells were dug each costing 100,000 pesos, with two reservoirs, to ensure an independent water supply for the residents.

Manila City was the commercial center during the pre-war period, but Makati took over this role as many commercial establishments moved here after the war, attracted by modern urban planning. New shopping centers have also been created, including Glorietta and Greenbelt.

In 2012, Ayala Land Inc. launched the “Make It Happen, Make It Makati” campaign, investing 65 million pesos aimed at further developing Makati into a vibrant and versatile city. The result of this campaign was the creation of the Ayala Triangle Gardens, Ayala North Interchange, and Makati Circuit, among others.

Alcazaren noted that Makati has gradually transformed into a “24/7 mixed-use neighborhood with diverse architecture supporting vibrant urban life.”

“Makati is the product of historical factors in our post-independence trajectory, identifying needs and offering rational alternatives that have evolved over the past century,” he said.

Alcazaren said the development of the city was a private initiative but “there is a lot to learn from private and public management of urban areas and it continues to reshape.”

“You have to have a plan, you have to be flexible, you have to understand what people need to live, work and play, but we also have to understand that no matter how much we plan our enclaves…if we don’t let’s not look at the larger context of Metro Manila and…all metropolitan areas in the Philippines, without improving that larger context, we will be stuck forever,” he continued.