• October 1, 2023

Traveling opens up a world of possibilities and presents the ultimate opportunity to maximize what life has to offer. Whether it’s adventurous backpackers seeking self-discovery or ambitious exchange students yearning for intellectual growth, every individual embarks on a journey with a unique objective packed in their metaphorical suitcase. As for architects with global visions, traveling helps them develop a more comprehensive understanding of their role in shaping the world, and in particular, the country they reside in.

Architect Ian Fulgar, the principal architect at The Fulgar Architects, attributes his unique experience of home to international travels and exposure to global projects in designing and creating spaces that provide shelter and bring people together.

Architect Fulgar’s exposure to innovative mega-projects abroad came about when he was awarded a design prize in Singapore, which allowed him to work and closely observe cutting-edge design, technology, and sustainability principles.

“This awareness has fueled my desire to learn from other nation’s successes and bring these lessons back home, the Philippines, to identify its gaps and shortcomings in its approach to architecture and urban planning,” he explains.

An aerial view of Dubai’s rapid expansion of innovative property developments – from opulent residential towers to cutting-edge commercial spaces.

As coastal land reclamation is one of the most widely used urban planning developments in the world today, Architect Fulgar shares that the Philippines’ Manila Bay can be inspired by Dubai’s success story. The latter has completely transformed into an ultramodern city and leader in innovative development. The Philippines can replicate this achievement by adopting several critical factors, such as strong and forward-thinking leadership between the public and private sectors, sustainable development, adoption of new technologies, and modern infrastructure and connectivity.

Architect Ian Fulgar atop the aerial view of Palm Jumeirah, an awe-inspiring artificial archipelago that houses some of Dubai’s luxury hotels, residences, and entertainment venues.

According to the Philippine government and market intelligence research, it has been projected that the development of reclaimed land projects will have a substantial positive impact on the economy. This expansion will encourage the growth of existing and rising industries, thus generating more jobs, bigger income, and higher real estate value.

Data report from Colliers states that the current value of reclaimed land in the Manila Bay area ranges from P200,000 to P250,000 per sqm, growing by an average of 30% annually over the past five years. 

A correlated approach in architecture and urban planning

To enrich his architectural knowledge, Architect Fulgar considers two factors: the presence of rich cultural and heritage qualities and emerging trends and concepts in contemporary architecture. 

Architect Fulgar recognizes the importance of preserving culture and heritage as they reflect a country’s robust national identity and balance between the old and the new. They serve as sources of inspiration for architects and urban planners, showcasing how modern design practices can be influenced by the need to safeguard the past, establish connections with the present, and propel us toward the future. This is where considering emerging trends and concepts becomes important, specifically regarding future iconic centers and designs that may become landmarks of the next generation.

“Acknowledging and embracing the next wave of architectural trends is crucial for several reasons. It helps architects adapt to society’s evolving needs and expectations. It encourages the development of sustainable and resilient designs to mitigate the environmental impact of the built environment and improve the quality of life of future generations. Lastly, it contributes to the ongoing dialogue and exchange of ideas within the global architectural community,” says Architect Fulgar. “I am committed to staying engaged with both the past and the future, striving to create culturally grounded and progressive designs.

These reasons are highly relevant as global property developments increasingly utilize reclamation projects as a forward-looking approach to urban development. Coastal lands are a blank canvas where architects and urban planners can incorporate sustainability and disaster resilience practices to mitigate the effects of climate change and other environmental challenges.

Dubai, Singapore, Paris, and Japan

When it comes to outstanding urban developments, qualities such as safety, consideration for fellow citizens, and the presence of iconic landmarks distinguish cities and countries. Architect Fulgar enthused that they drive experiences and create a strong source of identity for a place and what people value. 

“Safety has always been an essential aspect of urban design. When I think about the cities I have visited, safety left a lasting impression, particularly in Dubai,” he says. He was impressed by the city’s focus on security and comprehensive approach to safety. “The well-lit, efficient public transportation system, and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure all contributed to a sense of security, which is essential for a thriving city.”

Consideration for fellow citizens is a sign of a strong sense of community. This is reflected when a city genuinely implements inclusive and accessible design principles, such as the case in Singapore. It is dedicated to fostering social cohesion through open spaces and community-driven initiatives. “Its thoughtful urban planning demonstrates a harmonious atmosphere that is essential for any exceptional city,” Architect Fulgar expresses.

A drone shot of the City of Paris | Photo credit: Mikhail Nilov

Lastly, iconic landmarks are another aspect that defines a city or country’s identity. “These structures should be aesthetically striking and well-integrated into their surroundings, serving as focal points that enhance the city’s overall vitality,” says Architect Fulgar.

He is captivated by places that have successfully preserved their rich cultural and heritage qualities while embracing modernity and progress. As notable examples, he cited Paris’ Eiffel Tower and overall livability and aesthetic appeal and Kyoto’s ancient temples that coexist with contemporary structures and honor the history and respect for culture.

“As an architect, it is my responsibility to strive for these qualities in my work, shaping urban landscapes that cater to the functional needs of their inhabitants while elevating human experience and nurturing a sense of belonging and pride,” Architect Fulgar concludes.

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