It’s no secret that Manila is a massive, car-infested, concrete jungle — and one of the upcoming projects that solidifies this notion is the upcoming Pasig River Expressway (PAREX) project, an elevated six-lane expressway built through a public-private partnership with San Miguel Corporation, which will see the conversion of the historic Pasig River into a 19.37-kilometer road, traversing the city of Manila to Rizal province.
Despite San Miguel Corporation’s insistence to build PAREX sustainably, urban planning advocates, pro-sustainability architects, and concerned netizens have expressed doubt about this, saying that the blockage of sunlight and pollution from the bridge’s construction would harm marine life and compromise the health of those living nearby.
But what if we built esplanades and parks instead of a massive open road? Jowee Alviar of graphic design studio Team Manila enlisted the help of AI program Midjourney to reimagine a sustainably redesigned Pasig River, filled with trees, open parks, and other infrastructure geared towards people.
Using the hashtags #publicspaces, #weneedmoreparks, and #buildbetter, Alviar’s images caught the attention of the public, who said the visuals reminded them of Singapore.
“This looks like Singapore! Hope this happens in our lifetime,” one commenter wrote.
“The design is very Singapore,” another chimed in.
However, others said the design was not realistic as businesses would benefit from the added income PAREX would bring.
“The government wants to put up PAREX, not esplanades so this will not happen,” one said.
“Agreed. Let’s be realistic. As much as we want this to be environment-friendly, money talks,” another chimed in.
Following the backlash the PAREX project received after its groundbreaking, San Miguel Corporation reassured the public that the PHP95 billion (US$1.74 billion) project would be sustainably built, tapping urban planner and green architect Felino Palafox.
Yet urban planner Paulo Alcazaren dismissed this, saying that the project would be like putting “lipstick on a pig,” and added that the project had not been thought out well.
Jeepney and UV Express passengers can expect their daily commutes to get cushier. Read more.
It’s death for the Pasig River via concrete. Read more.
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