More From Anthology Festival 2021: Shelter Dialogues and What Makes a City

March 30, 2021



Shan Arcega

A city is not just a place. It is its people as well.

What makes a city? Is it infrastructure? Is it the power and the energy? The character of the place? Is it the mix of both old and new? the heritage with the modern structures? at the end of the day, it’s the people. It’s the people who power it, it’s the people who fuel it, it’s the people who animate it and make decisions as well about living in it.” says architect Cathy Saldaña, opening the rousing discussion between industry experts about what makes a city.

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Her outlook was especially magnified during Our City’s 2nd day Shelter Dialogues segment where panelists Vince Dizon (President and CEO of The BCDA Group), Paulo Alcazaren (Principal Architect of PGAA Creative Design), Buds Wenceslao (CEO of Aseana City), ria Matute (Executive Director of the Design Center of the Philippines), and Eric Jaffe (Editorial Director for Sidewalk Labs) exchanged ideas of what makes up a great city. Architect Cathy Saldaña and Architectural Record’s Co-editor, Clifford Pearson also attended as blind reactors to the session. 

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The Shelter Dialogues segment sparked a whole whirlwind of discussion regarding the elements that make up a great city that functions for its people. Covid being the storm that it is uncovered several issues regarding the underlying structures of a city and allowed us to further uncover how developing world countries like the Philippines rarely have cities built with their people as the center and inspiration of the planning. Which is an ironic point in a topic centering around development. 

They are the opposite. They are built mostly for cars…They are not built for public transport, they are not built for walking, they are not built for biking. They are not built to have a healthy lifestyle and a healthy sense of space.” Says Vince Dizon.

Dizon also highlights the initiative of building with Saldaña and her firm to design a railway from Subic to Clark-a city playing as the ideal model for becoming one that uses the inclusivity of all people as its banner. 

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This session brought forth several other interesting discussions ranging from the chance for Philippine transportation systems to further grow and be more inclusive of public transportation, to the importance of creating a connected community and involving these people in planning and designing spaces. With the people of a city in mind, the discussion also rolled around how our cities should not only look the part of a modern, bustling center for business but should also play to the inane nature of humans to search for open spaces that revitalize the soul and mind. 

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