Living in Metro Manila is a constant challenge for many people. Urban hassles of traffic, blight, un-integrated development, and lack of green space create a disjointed experience and a lifestyle that makes it difficult to keep up with the rest of the modern world.
A new master-planned development by Ayala Land Inc. (ALI) in the metropolis’ south is seeking to create a gateway, an urban enclave that allows residential and lifestyle, as well as a business and commercial environment, that are more in sync with the rest of the metropolis, as well as the rest of the world.
ARCA South is being shaped into a 74-hectare central business district (CBD) and mixed-use development. The expansive former FTI complex is being transformed into a wholly-integrated enclave made up of residential communities, retail and office workspaces, a hotel and a hospital in its initial phase. All these will be connected with an efficient transport system and wide open and green spaces.
I had a chat recently with Joel Luna, ALI Vice President and Chief Architect, along with Stephen Comia, ALI Project Development Manager of ARCA South to discuss their company’s newest and to me, it’s most exciting new urban enclave development.
The measures, explained the two executives, which ensure ARCA South’s success starts with access, its context and connections to its surroundings. Ayala Land is coordinating its newest development with the City of Taguig’s programs for urban improvement. It is also synchronizing with national government’s infrastructure programs for the area, which include plans for a transport terminal and a C5 to C6 connection.
According to Arch. Luna, the intent of the government is, in fact, to create what is called an ‘intermodal transport hub.’ This hub will consolidate several modes of transport—vehicular, bus, rail—onto a terminal and mixed-use complex that is interfaced seamlessly with ARCA South. Entering from C5, Skyway or SLEX will take traffic to the development’s main boulevard. This will distribute commuters and visitors equally to all corners of ARCA South, as well as connect ARCA South to the rest of the metropolis.
Comia adds that this balanced flow is matched by the even distribution between residential and commercial zones. He explained that the residential components will be a mix of Ayala’s Premier, Alveo and Avida developments. A retail and lifestyle center, akin to Greenbelt, and BPO offices, will compliment the first projects that are due for completion in the first phase of ARCA South that will take five years.
Circulation in ARCA South is also balanced; in the sense of extensive accessibility by pedestrians. The main spine is actually a linear greenway that traverses ARCA South from one end to another, much like High Street in BGC but more free form in shape, with sections as wide as 60 meters. This tree-filled greenway allows pedestrian traffic to both ends of the development. Luna added that the building edges of all clusters and buildings are arcaded and lined with shops and restaurants. Parking for the development is via a huge integrated basement facility. You can park anywhere underground and come up to the park or through the commercial buildings to the arcades.
An internal bus transit system, like the one operating in Bonifacio Global City nearby, will have bus stops every 400 meters. This system will be scheduled and provide quick access to the development from the intermodal terminal complex.
By all these, ARCA South will really be a pedestrian paradise, but the people-friendliness of ARCA South is also seen in the buildings themselves. Most will be of moderate height to modulate densities for both aesthetics and function.
Ayala Land has also made it a point to enhance streetscapes and open spaces (40% of the entire site) with verdant landscaping that include shade trees, green buffers, lawn areas and playgrounds for active recreation. This ‘green-ness’ extends to the whole development through, sustainable building practices, rain-water harvesting, building orientation and other measures that have become standard with Ayala Land’s projects.
The development will also continue the high standards of maintenance, security and infrastructure functionality that is the hallmark of ALI’s projects. There will be a 24/7 operations center, CCTV coverage, synchronized traffic lights, drainage and solid waste management, as well as all the necessary support for a fully functioning modern city.
The first phase of ARCA South that will take five years is well under way. Included in this are a range of retail including a transit-oriented mall like Market Market, a lifestyle mall for the residential enclave, and a regional mall. The first office buildings will be completed by 2017 with seven or so more in the pipeline. There will also be a 250-bed Quartenary Hospital and a 200-room Seda Hotel in this initial phase of development.
ARCA South will fill out in a well-controlled manner. To date 19 commercial lots along the main boulevard have been sold and buildings will rise to trace a skyline like the original Makati CBD. This attractiveness indicates that ARCA South is blessed not only with great access, compelling scale and design, but also ultimately with a prime location vis-à-vis Metropolitan Manila.
Location, scale and access define ARCA South as a gateway to the metropolis, a portal to business opportunities, lifestyle options and a great place to live. This, ARCA South promises you, to sync the lives and activities of all those who live in, work out of, or visit with the rest of the world.