Bike-friendly, billboard-free Roxas Boulevard?

Paulo Alcazaren reveals plans for the redevelopment of the famed boulevard

REDEVELOPMENT. Improvements are envisioned for the major thoroughfare. Photo from Department of Tourism Twitter

MANILA, Philippines – A bike-friendly and pedestrian-friendly Roxas Boulevard where you can go shopping?

That’s what urban designer Paulo Alcazaren plans for one of the most famous boulevards in the Philippine capital.

This detailed plan – which includes keeping the roadway free of billboards and debris – was unveiled to more than 80 stakeholders on August 15 at Diamond Hotel, Manila.

Two weeks before, the Department of Budget Management released P250 million for the redevelopment of Roxas Boulevard to be undertaken by the Department of Public Works and Highways.

The planned redevelopment comes in time for two major international conferences to be held in Manila: the World Economic Forum on East Asia in 2014 and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in 2015.

READY FOR CHANGE. Urban designer Paulo Alcazaren designed Ayala Avenue and Iloilo Esplanade before taking on the Roxas Boulevard project. Photo from Department of Tourism Twitter

Alcazaren and his firm, PGAA Creative Design, were tapped to design a two-kilometer stretch of Roxas Boulevard, the part which belongs to Rizal Park currently being renovated by him and his team.

The stretch will then become a replicable model for the rest of the boulevard, which spans 10 kilometers from Del Pan Bridge to MIAA Road.

Alcazaren’s previous urban design projects include Ayala Avenue and Iloilo Esplanade.

He promises the following features for Roxas Boulevard:

  • Lanes and paths for bikes and pedestrians along entire length boulevard
  • Safer and more business-friendly environment that will encourage investors to build high-value developments that will bring life back to the waterfront

  • 100 hectares of linear park to address the lack of greenery open to the public

  • New soil; more trees will be planted
  • Service road converted into commercial or shopping street lined with cafés 

  • Zero or strictly controlled billboards 

  • Monuments and statues relocated to more appropriate areas along the boulevard to improve their visibility and prominence

  • Manila Bay highlighted as one of its most magnificent natural attributes

  • Private land and building owners organized into an association similar to Makati Commercial Estate Association (MACEA) and Ortigas Center Association Inc (OCAI).

GOLDEN AGE. Paulo Alcazaren shows a picture of Roxas Boulevard in the 1960s. Photo from Department of Tourism Twitter

Manila revival

Alcazaren told Rappler that Manila Mayor Joseph Ejercito “Erap” Estrada has approved the project and has tapped Architect Dennis Lacina of the Manila Planning Office and Carlos Celdran of the Manila Tourism Office to coordinate with Alcazaren and his team.

Through the planned redevelopment, Alcazaren aims nothing less than to “bring pride of place back to the capital.”

“Along with initiatives that will soon be launched for Intramuros and Rizal Park, it will form the core historic district of Manila and help it regain its status as the Pearl of the Orient,” he added.

He cited the famous Lake Shore Drive in Chicago and East Coast Parkway of Singapore as models of his dream for Roxas Boulevard. Ironically, both were modelled from the original design of Roxas Boulevard, proposed by American urban designer Daniel Burnham before World War II ravaged Manila.

Department of Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez said that Roxas Boulevard Park, more than just a “beautification” project, is a chance to revive Manila as a business center. Some of the projected benefits of the undertaking are a 5-10% increase in two to 5 years and improved traffic in the area. –

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