How should a city grow?

Tacloban, January 30 2016 — It was the question posed to Tacloban City officials by an international team of urban planners during a recent mission organized by the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat).

Many would comment that the question is timely, considering the city is still undergoing reconstruction following the devastation wrought by Typhoon Yolanda (known internationally as Haiyan). Nonetheless, the city continues to experience sustained urban growth and create both challenges and opportunities for its residents and the rest of the region.

The UN-Habitat mission was part of Urban Lab – a one-year global project to support the growth of inclusive, safe, sustainable and resilient cities. Aside from key discussions with city officials and field visits, a planning charrette was held where the Urban Lab team shared four models of city growth and development (pictured below):

Core: Developing the city’s downtown and historic core

Linear: Encouraging growth around corridors along the highways and the coastline

Patchwork: Connecting current patchwork of built-up areas and their relations to the open spaces in between them

New Town: Nurturing a core area in a new district of the city

How should cities grow models

To help operationalize each model, the team asked city representatives and workshop participants to consider these questions:

  • How does the model build resilience and reduce risk?
  • How does the model achieve fair and inclusive growth?
  • How does the model define a growth engine for the city’s future?
  • How does the model promote an infrastructure system that supports various scales?
  • How does the model fit within an actionable time frame?
The design charrette enabled city representatives and key stakeholders to reflect on the best planning model for the city.

After considerable discussion and reflection on the local realities, the participants came to an emerging consensus – the city could adopt a hybrid approach. This approach, while combining useful elements of all four models, would be based on many considerations, including (but not limited to) existing elements of the urban landscape, proposed projects that when implemented will influence the direction and extent of the growth, as well as the phases of growth based on key scenarios. The approach also considered the need to balance the core historic area with a proposed urban expansion in the north, while at the same time fostering green space and transport corridors in the mid-section of the city.

The participants also reflected on issues of inclusivity. It was emphasized that lower income housing in the south is required to reduce displacement. On the other hand, housing schemes for people of various economic classes should be encouraged in the north to avoid stigmatization and encourage everyday interaction of people from different economic backgrounds. Furthermore, such inclusivity will also be reflected in the network of public spaces and streets that should permeate each settlement in the northern district.

The approach discussed at the charrette will feed into the reformulation of the city’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP). Initial deliberations emphasized the importance of providing both narrative and illustrative inputs into the CLUP process.

During the week-long mission, the UN-Habitat team conducted field visits to the east coast, downtown, midsection and northern districts of the city.

During the week-long mission, the UN-Habitat team conducted field visits to the east coast, downtown, midsection and northern districts of the city. The team also met with the City Mayor, as well as with members of the technical working group for the CLUP.

Reflecting on the discussions, Mayor Alfred Romualdez agreed that the city needs a tailor-fit plan that considers the local, regional and provincial complexities in ecology, population movement and economic development. He welcomed the continued technical inputs from the team as the city remains committed to the partnership with UN-Habitat that endures since the early onset of Haiyan.

The team also worked with city representatives to define the work plan of the year-long Urban Lab project in Tacloban City, and mapped out subsequent missions by the international team.

Urban Lab is directly related to the Achieving Sustainable Urban Development project currently being implemented by UN-Habitat Philippines in five cities (i.e., Iloilo, Silay, Cagayan de Oro, Zamboanga, and Butuan).

The Urban Lab team will provide technical advice, planning methodologies and creative urban designs through field missions and office work to inform both the proposed planned city extension and the ongoing review and formulation of the CLUP. A participatory and people-centered approach in the planning process will be promoted.

Participants of the design charrette held during the Urban Lab mission to Tacloban City.


Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Related Posts

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Latest Publications

Aligned with the planning process of local government units (LGUs), it captures the process of developing the City Plan of Action on Marine Litter (CPOA-ML) from creating the planning team, situational analysis and baselining, visioning, capacity development, action identification, until approval and adoption. It provides recommendations for enhancements of existing local policies and mainstreaming into other local plans.

Let's Work Together