Design Better Extended: Better views of the Lenten parade from the Baliuag Plaza

January 15, 2018



Jesy Cruz

The rich culture of Baliuag, evident through its colorful festivals and heritage churches, draws thousands of tourists every year. A first class municipality in the land-locked province of Bulacan, the town was founded in 1732 by Augustinian friars and remains predominantly agricultural.

Every year, elaborate parades are held in Baliguag, Bulacan, during Holy Week in observance of the Roman Catholic Lenten season. Carriages (locally known as carrozas) featuring tableaux of Christ’s passion and other biblical scenes make their way around town in the country’s longest Lenten procession. In order to view the grand parade, spectators simply line the town streets. A number of them wait at the perimeter of a circular plaza, called the Glorietta Park, fronting the San Agustin church in order to view the carriages’ last round.

A view of the park from the south. The Glorietta is elevated a meter from street-level as a barrier between park-goers and activities on the street.
Lenten procession traffic flow

In order to view the grand parade, spectators simply line the town streets. A number of them wait at the perimeter of a circular plaza, called the Glorietta Park, fronting the church in order to view the carriages’ last round. The park, built in 1905, has been renovated by the local government throughout the years and is a site for community events such as morning workouts and holiday performances. Pedestrians traverse the 45-meter diameter to reach different places in the town center such as government offices, banks, and schools.

The area enclosed by the three new structures can serve as a place for performances which can be viewed from the grandstands that overlook it or community activities. The decking is built with plot areas to accommodate the existing greenery in the plaza.
The team studied the pedestrian flow and pattern in and around the park.
An aerial view of the Glorietta Park at night

Recognized as a challenge both by the local government and visitors alike, we wanted to address the lack of proper viewing structures for the town’s Lenten procession and other fiesta parades. Alero Design Studio draws inspiration from the weaving of Baliuag’s famous buntal hat in designing a multipurpose facility and grandstand in the Glorietta Park.

The Baliguag clock tower as seen from the west portion of the Glorietta as it is now. During the Lenten procession, spectators crowd the balustrades that enclose the park and stand on top the metal benches lining the edges to see over the crowd.
The Glorietta Park has the San Agustin Church to its north and the Baliuag Clock Tower on its southeast side. Surrounded by restaurants, banks, schools, and government offices, this is one of the busiest places in town. Events like Christmas presentations and Zumba mornings are held at the makeshift stage at the center of the plaza.

Elevated viewing balconies are situated by the edges of the park and are angled towards the three converging roads from which the processions flow during the three-day event. The structures provide unobstructed views and comfortable seating for spectators. This multipurpose facility can accommodate up to a thousand spectators and houses an indoor food park, a venue to sample local delicacies of Bulacan such as pastillas, chicaron and lechon manok.

The Glorietta Park as seen from the church. A grandstand structure faces Benigno Aquino Avenue on east side of the circular plaza, one of the entry points of the Lenten procession. The structure facing north is a 9-meter-tall balcony atop an indoor food park. The woven façade is made of pre-fabricated concrete mesh.
The woven motif continues on the details of the indoor food park. The Glorietta can accommodate up to eight food stall spaces ranging from 8 to 16 square meters. The food halls are encapsulated by glass jalousie panels, precast concrete and metal screens. The halls are further ventilated by narrow openings on the staggered ceiling, which are on the upper half of the grandstand risers. Crawling plants help curtain the windows.

On regular days, the grandstand functions as a congregations space for public events, concerts, and even casual gatherings. This place of convergence is a combination of functions that address and design inspired by the local heritage of this century old Spanish town.

The identified passive areas were then divided into 3 segments, which became the locations of the viewing platforms.
East elevation
North elevation
West elevation
South elevation

This proposal for the Baliuag Central Plaza by Alero Design Studio is an extension of BluPrint’s latest book Design Better. The book is available in National Bookstore and Powerbooks.

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