IELTS reading material 5 – Architecture, Urban Planning, Logistics

  1. Create Disruption through Sustainability in the Construction Industry


Development 2050, in collaboration with social partner Save Aravali Trust, has taken many project initiatives of sustainable development in public interest.


Founded in 2016 by Architect Kumar Shashwat, Development 2050 is a startup that aims to provide solutions to the construction industry for sustainable development of Delhi Region and beyond. It has taken on the noble pursuit to respond to the massive challenges of climate change and urbanization in the world through its efforts. Their tagline is- saving the planet through sustainable development for 2050. They provide eco-friendly and innovative construction solutions for a diverse range of projects in everything from planning buildings to designing cities, all with sustainability as its core value.


According to United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), buildings use about 40% of global energy and many other eco parameters of similar range. The Delhi Region is suffering from severe pollution problems, an unhealthy environment that’s almost making it uninhabitable in certain pockets as per environment indicators, not to mention the deadly Delhi smog last year. The construction industry is one of the major producers of carbon emissions, consumer of energy and environment polluter across the globe. Looking at the rapid pace of urbanization and threats of climate change in Delhi Region there is a great need to adopt sustainability as the underlying principle for the multiple stakeholders to attain resilient development.


Development 2050 are also building a strong community of people who believe in natural resource conservation as a way of life and are working in collaboration with many environment non-profits of Delhi Region to organize public engagement programs. “Change has to come from within our society and we believe in empowering people for indigenous models of development that recognizes microclimate and local culture through awareness and participation,” Kumar Shashwat, founder.


Development 2050, in collaboration with social partner Save Aravali Trust, has taken many project initiatives of sustainable development in public interest. In the last one year the consortium has also got selected in three international competitions across the globe. Their project selected in Russia is about developing eco connection spots (variant of eco-tourism) in the abandoned mining lakes of Aravali forest in Faridabad to connect the general masses of Delhi Region with the natural heritage of Aravali. Their project selected in Netherlands is about developing a park for children in the vacant plots of slum areas of Faridabad city to promote urban greenery as well as ensuring a healthy childhood for kids of poor families. Their project selected in Italy is about building 1000 groundwater recharge systems in Faridabad city to overcome the critical challenges of water scarcity and water logging in the city. These projects will soon be exhibited in Rome in April 2017.


For the future of course of action in next 2 years Shashwat says that, “In our social projects we are in process of collaboration with institutions like JNU Delhi as the knowledge partners and looking out to build the financial pool through corporate sponsorship, grants and crowd funding. On the other front, we are close to finalizing deals with real estate developers and big contractors and going to create an impact with reforms in the private sectors.”


Development 2050 aims to change the whole dynamics of construction industry in Delhi Region and beyond in future, hopes to gain support from multiple stakeholders, sponsors, general people, and emerge as a saviour to enormously improve the quality of life through its sustainable development projects for the 45 million people living here in Delhi Region.


  1. Innovators Shake Up Tradition-Bound Construction Industry


Pre fabricated skyscrapers, 3D-printed houses, automatically designed hospitals– futuristic dreams are now a reality, according to a new report from the World Economic Forum. The report, Shaping the Future of Construction: Inspiring innovators redefine the industry, analyses ten innovation cases, and provides key success factors and policy recommendations to accelerate innovation in construction.

The report, developed in collaboration with BCG, underlines that relative to other industries, productivity in engineering and construction has stalled over the past 50 years. Technology was not making any fundamental advances, and companies remained averse to changing their traditional methods. Recently, however, transformative technological developments have emerged, and some pioneering firms have adopted them for current projects. These developments – 3D printing, building information modeling, wireless sensing and autonomous equipment, to name just a few –are already starting to turn traditional business models upside down.


The ten lighthouse innovation cases in the report illustrate the value of embracing innovation. Prominent flagship projects, such as Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, and The Edge in Amsterdam, the world’s most sustainable office building, showcase state-of-the-art innovation. So, too, do the various startups or pilot projects that the report features, such as the 3D printing of houses by the Chinese company Winsun or the predictive analytics of construction data by the Chicago-based firm Uptake, Forbes’s hottest startup of 2015. Jointly, their inspirational stories give a glimpse of the industry’s future.


As construction companies reap the benefits of innovation, so will their clients and the community at large benefit. “Incremental change is not an option; by redefining the ultimate frontier, leapfrogging innovations in construction will finally help to address major societal challenges, from mass urbanization to climate change,” says Michael Buehler, Head of Infrastructure and Urban Development at the World Economic Forum. “The widespread adoption of these innovations is going to make a serious impact, socially, economically and environmentally.”


Crucial Government Contribution


Governments are crucial stakeholders in the transformation of the construction industry. They need to create an environment conducive to the adoption of innovative technology as regulator, strategic incubator, or project owner. The report recommends that governments update building regulations, move to performance-based and future-oriented standards, and introduce more flexible procurement models in infrastructure projects to overcome typical hurdles for innovation. In fact, infrastructure is again high on the agenda in almost all regions of the world. In the words of John Beck, president and CEO of Aecon Construction Group, one of Canada’s leading construction companies: “There has always been a mismatch between the need for infrastructure assets and the capital to fund them. By leveraging all the remarkable innovations that have emerged in recent years, we have a new opportunity to narrow that gap.” For infrastructure and other built assets alike, innovation will boost the value over their entire life cycle.


Companies Spearhead Industry Transformation


On the basis of BCG analysis of these successful innovators, the report suggests ways in which companies can stimulate innovative ideas, turn those ideas into reality and ultimately succeed in the market. Pioneering firms, for instance, create an innovation-friendly culture that rewards risk-taking; they take a longer-term product perspective rather than on individual projects; and proactively shape the regulatory environment. Companies have nothing to gain from delaying; once they implement innovations, the benefits – lower costs, shorter delivery time, and reduced environmental impact – can begin to accumulate.


To paraphrase William Gibson, the Future of Construction is here now – it is just not evenly distributed. Innovative companies and projects, as described in the report, demonstrate the art of the possible and how to address the challenges involved,” says Philipp Gerbert, a Senior Partner at BCG and co-author of the report. “The impact of these innovations on the traditional construction ecosystem will be interesting to follow. We see a widening gap between the innovation laggards and leaders, in particular with regard to their digital transformation.”


  1. 7 Ways Robotics is Transforming the Construction Industry


Robotic technology provides the construction industry with numerous advantages. With the goal of automating processes and increasing productivity, robotics are being used to get work done quicker, cheaper and with more precise detail. This article outlines certain areas of construction that are being impacted by robotic technology, discussing its current impact on the industry, as well as what you can expect to see in the future.


Automated Technology


One of the uses of robotics is to allow for greater automation in various processes. In many aspects of construction, specifically manufacturing, packing and building, automating these processes is becoming the goal. With greater development in robotics and machinery, construction companies are becoming more open to utilizing technology. With robotic technology, you can expect traditional construction activities like welding, material handling, packing, dispensing, cutting and packing to be fully automated. This will not only allow for precision and accuracy throughout all construction processes, it represents a significant time and financial savings as well.


Altered Workforce


According to a report from the World Economic Forum, roughly 5 million jobs are expected to be lost by 2020. They attribute much of this job loss to artificial intelligence, machine-learning, 3D Printing and robotics, all of which will significantly impact the construction industry, accounting for an anticipated 10% of total job losses. The WEF predicts that these technologies will be slowly integrated, replacing specific tasks, not jobs entirely. However, with machines taking over certain aspects of a job, this allows companies to employ fewer staff who become responsible for a variety of activities. In a few years, with automated processes increasing, the core skill set of construction workers will look drastically different than it does today. Although it looks as though the construction industry will be hit hard by this robotic revolution, the WEF predicts that over 400,000 jobs in architecture and engineering will be needed.


Lean Construction Practices


One of the biggest and most important movements in construction is lean construction. This contemporary ideology aims to increase efficiency and productivity, often centered on the elimination of waste. Traditional construction practices produce an inordinate amount of waste, which is not only bad for the environment, but significantly affects profitability. Robotic technology however can help reduce the amount of waste created because of its ability to ensure accuracy and precision. An investment in this technology, like 3D printers for example, may be a daunting task for many businesses. In the long run however, reduced waste and standardized materials will positively impact profitability.


Higher Quality


With most robotic systems completely automated, manufacturing parts and materials will be much more consistent, with a higher quality. By removing human error and inconsistency, these machines can take advantage of speed, efficiency and repeatability to ensure better overall quality.


3D Printing


The introduction of 3D printing is continuing to grow in the construction industry. Now it is possible to print complex, layered, parts and objects that can be used in the construction of homes, buildings, bridges and roads. In Addition, robotic machines can standardize the production of pieces that can be used throughout various projects, saving both time and money.




One of the earliest uses of robotics in construction has been demolition. Considering the number of construction projects currently in place, speeding up the demolition process can provide a large saving of time and money. Breaking down walls, crushing concrete, and gathering all debris is the first step in many construction processes, and robotics is making these processes much more efficient.


Brick Laying


Although there is a belief that robotics is used for modern processes only, this is not the case. Machines have been developed to increase efficiency in tasks like brick laying. Although residential construction has been slow to adopt technology and change, robotics in brick laying should be a serious consideration. It is a rather simple process whereby construction workers simply feed bricks into a machine, and using CAD software, it is laid out accurately and precisely.  Some of the most advanced brick laying machines can complete an entire house within a few days.


  1. Tips for Job Hunting in Australia


According to a new data released by the Australian government, there are still over 159,000 job vacancies across the country today. But the number could be a bit higher since it doesn’t include offline job advertisements or those published in newspapers and other print media.


Also, the country’s stellar economic run last year is predicted to continue until the first half of 2017. This could translate to a healthier job market as entrepreneurs gain more confidence in expanding their businesses.


Therefore, there will be jobs. Below are ten of the most sought-after amongst them:




The latest employment report from SEEK revealed that the demand for teaching roles has increased by 112 percent over the last few years, especially in the special needs and primary school segment. Average salary has also skyrocketed to eight percent since 2015 due to the swelling—and unmet—demands for teachers.


Designer and architect


Because of an unprecedented 62 percent job growth in the design segment, designers and architects have become more sought-after this year. Competition amongst various design firms (architecture, interior, and industrial) has also intensified, which means experienced designers earn a sizeable advantage over newbies.


Construction employee


Apartment construction industry across Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane is currently experiencing a boom. But New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland are in the running for the runner-up slot. This only means one thing: construction managers, even assistants and labourers are still highly needed in these six cities.


Work Health & Safety professionals


Recruitment specialist firm Hays said that the construction industry can’t exist without the work health and safety professionals. The reason is that the government requires all construction operations to be safe both for the employees and the public. The company also said that as long as the construction industry remains strong, the demand for WHS and OHS skills will continue to grow.


Mining and Power Plant Labourers/Operators


Without a doubt, the mining industry in the country is no longer as big as it was in the early 2000s. However, SEEK data reveals that companies with continuous operations across the country are still in the hunt for labourers and machine operators. This is also the case for the power plant industry.


Information & Communications Technology (ICT) professionals


The ICT industry boasts of an average industry salary (AIS) of $99,945, making the ICT professionals amongst the highest paid professionals in Australia.  It is also continuously growing as the technology progresses. The emergence of virtual reality, the Internet of Things (IoT), robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) also require the industry to hire more people.




“The higher up you go, the bigger your team gets, the more responsibilities you have, and the fatter your pay cheque becomes,” wrote Vivien Luu Career Faqs Australia. Indeed, managerial positions in various companies across key business cities in Australia remain very in-demand. And job ads for the position are expected to go up in the following years as the number of new business (that eventually need managers to lead departments and teams) continue to increase as well.


Digital marketers


The Australian entertainment and media market is predicted to increase to $47.4 billion by 2020 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.1 percent. This also means that more firms will be spending money on online advertising. For them to efficiently convert this spending into tangible results, they need to hire digital marketers. This also includes copywriters, SEO analysts, as well as Web developers and designers.


Farming and Environment Conservation


Job ads for farming labourers have increased by 63 percent from last year, and the last month saw job ads in the conservation and wildlife industry skyrocketing to 146 percent. The possible reason behind this is the growing indifference to manual labour by young Australians. Also, only 1.6 percent of the young labour force prefers indoor jobs, according to SpotJobs.


Builder, plumber, electrician


These three will remain amongst the most in-demand jobs in Australia, with or without a construction boom. In fact, in a study released by Service Seeking Australia, as reported by The Daily Telegraph, these are the richest trades in the country. “Average plumber charges $78.40 an hour, up 1.9 percent on last year, and the average electrician charges $74.61 an hour, up 4 percent, [whilst] an average Australian lawyer, by comparison, earns [only] $37 an hour,” says the report. So who wouldn’t be enticed to learn their craft?



Online Job Portals


Every employer has gone online these days, so for jobs not on this list, better check these online portals for future openings:


My Career

Australian Job Search (government)

APS Jobs

Career One



Resume tips


Australian employers are not yet into the ultra-short resume popular now in the UK, US, and other Western countries. A two-page resume could be the biggest stumbling block for job applicants in Australia, especially new migrants arriving in the country.


Hence, it should be detailed—from educational attainment to work experience. Australian employers—or human resource heads—put a special premium on emphasis. Attachments are also a plus, and this could be anything from proof of special course attendance to a certificate of a certain achievement.  Most importantly, use British English (‘s’ over ‘z’ and ‘favoured’ instead of ‘favored’).



  1. How to Design the World’s biggest Airport Terminal


How do you make an airport terminal that spans 173 acres feel like anything but a monster? Zaha Hadid attempts the impossible in Beijing.



Zaha Hadid’s new Beijing airport is the world’s largest single-building terminal.

It spans 7.5 million square feet and will accommodate 45 million passengers a year when it opens. Inside, swooping columns help break up the space. Beijing’s new airport is going to be a monster. At 7.5 million square feet, it covers about the same amount of space as 130 football fields put together–all within one terminal building.


Zaha Hadid Architects, the firm charged with designing the new terminal along with French airport design firm ADPI, faces a major challenge: How do you keep a building that must  accommodate 45 million passengers a year and eventually up to 72 million annually from overwhelming passengers? For Hadid’s designers, the answer lies in its structure: the shape of the airport, its roof, and how it’s divided.


Beijing is a vital hub for travel both within China and internationally, and its current airport is already at full capacity. According to current flight regulations, it just can’t accommodate any more planes than already travel to and from the airport daily. Yet Chinese air travel is booming. The country’s airplane market is expected to become the world’s largest by 2030. That’s where the new airport, located in the southern Beijing suburb of Daxing, comes in.


The radial-shaped airport, which looks kind of like what happens when you stretch a blob of silly putty between your hands, will likely be the largest single-terminal airport building in the world when it opens around 2018. In 2025, a satellite terminal will add 4.5 million square feet of space. It’s estimated that it will cost a total $12.8 billion.



“[The shape] is the most compact way of aggregating aircraft around the gates,” Cristiano Ceccato, an associate director in the firm and the project director for the airport, says in a phone interview. The terminal is designed to be “as big as you can make it before the distances get so far that it would take you so long to walk [through it] that you would miss your flight.” The large central space has room for security, shopping, and dining, while the more narrow corridors stretching out toward the runways maximize the number of planes you can fit around the terminal. Rather than walking along one long corridor to transfer between flights, as you’d do in some airports, the radial design allows you to walk a shorter distance to the center of the airport, then cut across the central atrium to your next destination.


The compact nature of the design reduces the need for air trains that facilitate travel between terminals in other large airports, a major money saver (and one of the major reasons why the designers squeezed everything into a single building as opposed to several smaller buildings). These automated people movers are expensive to install and maintain. It’s much cheaper to design an airport where people can walk anywhere they need to go.


It has moments of pause.

However, long, wide-open distances can sometimes feel overwhelming for a pedestrian. According to Ceccato, people are only willing to walk around 600 yards from security to their gate (around the length of five football fields*). To break up the grand space at the center of the terminal building, the architects added large, curvaceous columns that swoop down from the roof. “It breaks the space and provides you with a rhythm on the inside,” he says. “You feel that it’s a continuous, fluid space, but it has moments of pause.” Shops and restaurants make people feel like they have places to take a break before continuing on to their gate.


Furthermore, the airport check-in system is designed to speed up the process of getting in and out of the airport for frequent travelers. A separate floor of the airport is devoted to short-distance domestic flights. Essentially for commuters who need to fly once a week between Shanghai and Beijing, for example, it will be designed around the passenger who travels every day or every week, who already has a boarding pass printed and doesn’t need to check a bag.


All this serves to make the airport easier and quicker to navigate despite its mammoth size, facilitating the smooth journeys of millions of travelers who will pass through its halls each year.


  1. Amazon Wants to Create a Grocery Supply Chain that Bypasses Wal-Mart


“Amazon strongly believes that supply chains designed to serve the direct-to-consumer business have the power to bring improved customer experiences and global efficiency. To achieve this requires a major shift in thinking.”


Amazon Wants to Create New Supply Chain –Ask Food Giants to Bypass Wal-Mart Inc. has invited some of the world’s biggest brands to its Seattle headquarters in an audacious bid to persuade them that it’s time to start shipping products directly to online shoppers and bypass chains like Wal-Mart, Target and Costco.


Executives from General Mills, Mondelez and other packaged goods makers will attend the three-day gathering in May, Bloomberg has learned. Attendees will tour an Amazon fulfillment center and hear a presentation from Worldwide Consumer chief Jeff Wilke, who reports directly to Jeff Bezos.


Amazon is looking to upend relationships between brands and brick-and-mortar stores that for decades have determined how popular products are designed, packaged and shipped.


If Amazon succeeds, big brands will think less about creating products that stand out in a Wal-Mart Stores Inc. aisle. Instead, they’ll focus on designing products that can be shipped quickly to customers’ doorsteps. Brands have been experimenting with such changes, so the Seattle event may well resonate.


“Times are changing,” Amazon says in an invitation obtained by Bloomberg. “Amazon strongly believes that supply chains designed to serve the direct-to-consumer business have the power to bring improved customer experiences and global efficiency. To achieve this requires a major shift in thinking.”


Manufacturers would have to re-imagine everything from the way products are made to how they’re packaged. Laundry detergent could come in sturdier, leak-proof containers. Instead of flimsy packages designed to pop on store shelves, cookies, crackers and cereal could be packed in durable, unadorned boxes. Plants could spit out products for individuals rather than trucks-full of inventory. It’s unclear who would handle the shipping, though Amazon offers a range of fulfillment services. The company declined to comment.


Amazon has been struggling to crack the food and packaged goods market—an $800 billion category still dominated by Wal-Mart and other traditional chains. Persuading brands to design their packaging and operations for the online world would make it easier for Amazon to ship common household goods to urban dwellers in less than an hour, potentially making last-minute dashes to the store obsolete. Amazon must convince brands that even though online purchases represent a small part of their sales, e-commerce is the future.


“Most of these people haven’t been interested in e-commerce because e-commerce has been such a small piece of their overall sales,” says Melissa Burdick, vice president of e-commerce at The Mars Agency marketing firm. “But we’ve reached a tipping point. We’re at a time when companies are ready to start figuring this stuff out.”


Amazon is looking to influence product makers the same way Costco and other club stores convinced brands more than 20 years ago to create bulk sizes sold at a discount. “There was a big perceived penalty for missing the boat, fear of missing out on growth,” says Jim Hertel, senior vice president at the marketing firm Inmar Inc. Just like Costco, he says, Amazon will encourage the changes by promising increased sales, a possibly welcome pitch for companies struggling to rekindle sales growth amid rapidly changing consumer tastes and shopping habits.


Amazon has already forced some manufacturers to revolutionize their packaging. For years toy and electronics makers have packaged their wares to help prevent theft and to maximize store display. But the packages’ tough plastic was hard to open, turning off millions of consumers. Amazon pushed manufacturers to develop packages that pop open more easily. Today thousands of “frustration-free” products are sold on its site.


Some brands will be easier to persuade than others. One could be Nike Inc., which has an Amazon store and has been experimenting with selling directly to consumers. Nike COO Eric Sprunk is scheduled to speak at Amazon’s Seattle gathering. The event’s co-host is SCM World, a research and conference group that serves the supply-chain industry. SCM’s advisory board includes executives from Unilever, Kimberly-Clark and Land O’ Lakes butter.


Amazon’s pitch comes as brick-and-mortar competitors try to blunt its momentum by enhancing their own online shopping options. Wal-Mart and other big-box retailers are experimenting with things like buy-online, pickup in store. Startups like Instacart Inc. and Deliv make deliveries from stores to homes, helping retailers keep up with Amazon. Looking to match the quick delivery benefits of Amazon Prime membership, Wal-Mart offers a free two-day delivery on orders of $35 or more.


Wal-Mart and Amazon squared off last week in Las Vegas with keynote speeches at the ShopTalk conference that drew more than 5,000 attendees, including executives with major brands. Marc Lore, who heads Wal-Mart’s e-commerce initiatives, touted the price leverage of the world’s biggest retailer that buys products by the truckload. Peter Faricy, who runs Amazon’s marketplace, said the online retailer would continue to narrow shipping times and talked up a future when one-hour delivery is the standard.


Despite the long relationships between brands and traditional stores, Amazon has leverage to convince manufacturers to rethink their operations, says Ken Cassar, an analyst at Slice Intelligence. He notes that Amazon has 300 million shoppers and can make its own products if brands aren’t willing to sell on its marketplace. “Fear, more than anything else,” Cassar says, “may compel these companies to pay attention.”




  1. Hyperloop One says it could replace all air freight among GCC countries


Hyperloop One is putting a finer point on the business opportunity it believes it has in the Middle East, with a presentation made today during the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit in Abu Dhabi. The company thinks it can soak up around $12 billion of the total $35 billion annual cargo market in the Gulf Cooperation Council region, including all of the current $7 billion air freight market.


There’s also around 22 percent of the surface freight market available, which Hyperloop One says makes up a $3 billion opportunity, and around 13 percent of the business currently handled by maritime transportation, which is another $2 billion. H1 has stated in the past that its early business will be led by commercial cargo operations, which will precede and support efforts to eventually move people across long distances with extreme speed.


As part of its efforts at the Summit, H1 also introduced its new Hyperloop One Partner Program, a streamlined mechanism for it to enlist a range of different partners, across industries and specialities. these include people like influencers, who have input in transportation policy and market decision, consultants, solutions providers and tech experts.


A route from Abu Dhabi to Dubai is still on the docket as the first planned commercial installation for Hyperloop One. A foothold in the region, provided everything delivers as promised, will help significantly in its efforts to take on that larger market opportunity it spelled out today.


  1. Uber looks to play catch-up with Deliveroo in the UK as it aggressively expands its food delivery business


Uber is expanding its food delivery business, UberEats, to 40 more towns and cities across the UK as it looks to try and catch up with London rival Deliveroo.


The expansion will be complete by the end of 2017, Uber said.


UberEats launched in the UK last year, beginning operations in London, before expanding to Birmingham and Manchester.


Jambu Palaniappan, regional general manager of UberEats EMEA business saidin a statement: “In less than a year over a million people have downloaded the UberEats app in the UK. It’s clear from the response we’ve seen in London, Manchester and Birmingham that there’s huge appetite from people to order food at the touch of a button from their favourite local restaurants.


“We’re really excited about the future of the business which is why we’re investing heavily in an ambitious plan to launch the app in at least 40 towns and cities in the UK by the end of the year.”



New UK cities that UberEats will be expanding to include Nottingham, Leeds, Edinburgh, and Liverpool, according to The Financial Times. The service is also available in other countries, including Sweden, the Netherlands, United Arab Emirates, and South Africa.


In the UK, UberEats has partnered with over 2,000 restaurants including Chilango, Patty & Bun, Leon, PAUL, Ping Pong, Itsu, and Tossed.


Deliveroo, the biggest rival to UberEats in the UK, has been operating in the country since 2013.


Dan Warne, managing director for UK & Ireland at Deliveroo, told Business Insider last May that Deliveroo was in 38 towns and cities, adding that the company would expand to 30-40 more towns and cities by the end of 2016.


Deliveroo is now in 110 towns and cities across the UK, according to a Deliveroo spokesperson, who added that Deliveroo works with over 8,000 restaurants in the UK.


There’s little between UberEats, Deliveroo, and Amazon’s food delivery option, Amazon Restaurants. They all allow you to order food from restaurants that don’t typically deliver, meaning it’s often slightly higher quality than your average takeaway.


In a bid to build up a loyal user base, Deliveroo launched a premium option earlier this year called Deliveroo Plus. It costs £89 a year and essentially allows people to get food delivered for free.


  1. ASIA’S FUTURE CITIES: Manila residents feel the squeeze as city modernises


Roaring up in front of the National Housing Authority, thousands of protestors completely block off traffic as they shout their demands. Dozens of police officers stand by, controlling the mob while standing in formation, batons on standby but not required.

Many of the demonstrators – most of whom are women – are angry; others seem bemused by the spectacle that they find themselves part of.


This is a mobilisation of the urban poor – there is no shortage of them in Metro Manila, as land prices continue soar and with it the number of informal settlers.

They have brought a fight of desperation to the street.


On this day, they want the president to continue talks to improve housing rights in the country and end the destruction of their homes. But their longer-term issues are part of a wider problem – one that has divided the capital along economic lines.

Many of these communities have been established for years in so-called danger zones in the metro – along polluted canals, near garbage dumps, along shorelines or anywhere that can provide some refuge for society’s poorest.


They have also occupied highly valuable land – both public and private – in parts of Metro Manila ripe for development. As a result, demolition of these “squatter colonies” happens regularly, in the name of progress. What comes in their place are normally mega malls and condominiums. High-end construction is going up at rapid pace throughout the city.


Manila is modernising – the national government has aspirations to make the city a desirable place to invest as well as more aesthetically pleasing and liveable.

“The high rise construction is happening left and right. Whenever you see one, you will just imagine there have been people who have been displaced,” said Prof Hazel Dizon, an expert of urban landscapes from the University of the Philippines Diliman.


“This has been happening at a faster rate. In a way it’s a paradox because you are building condominiums but then you are displacing people.”

In 2010, the Metro Development Authority estimated there were 2.8 million informal settlers, out of a population of 11.9 million. Both figures are expected to have accelerated sharply since then.



Informal settlers in San Roque have been fighting forced evictions for years.One of them is 26-year-old Jeselyn Asadon, a former informal resident in San Roque, an area that became a construction site for a shopping mall, following forced evictions. Like thousands of families right throughout the city, she was relocated to Bulacan, a province to the north.

It is a situation she says is unacceptable.


“In the relocation site, there’s no food. Children steal food from others; most of the relocated people do that, that’s how they survive,” she said at the protest.

“You will steal from your own neighbour so that you have something to eat.”

The problems there are “classic” – a lack of services and opportunities, which in turn force people to return to wherever they came from to seek employment. It is an unhealthy cycle Manila has to contend with.


“If you’re going to resettle people you have to do it complete with the public utilities, electricity and water, school and hospitals and of course employment because that’s the main reason they were here in the first place,” Prof Dizon said.



Resettling the urban poor has become a crisis issue for authorities.


Urban planner Paul Alcazaren says private developers are largely shaping the look and feel of the city by building what local government units (LGUs) cannot afford. But he argues the LGUs “don’t get a free pass” for not building critical infrastructure for residents.


“You’re always playing catch up to a problem that should have been solved by thinking ahead,” he said. “Modernity is relative – we need to address just the basics first because once you address the basics you build a city that can accommodate equally.”

The government, however, is studying a proposal to create a city planning commission that would look into the feasibility of mass in-city housing projects for the urban poor.

It is what many evictees want – and possibly precisely what Manila needs.


The idea has the support of the Heritage Conservation Society (HCS). The organisation’s president Mark Evidente believes such a concept would actually drive revenues for local government units and ensure that gentrification does not price out the very people who need housing the most.

HCS is also leading efforts to restore “value” in older parts of the city, which are often being used by informal settlers and seen as derelict. This type of privately owned land becomes a prime target for developers.

“All of these are at risk because land values are increasing and the home owner can derive much more from building a 50-storey condo on top of it,” said Mark Evidente, the organisation’s president.

“The owner himself would find it very hard to say no to a deal. Heritage becomes a very difficult proposition to protect.”



It can be hard for land owners to say no to big developers, Mark Evidente says.


He argues that in the pursuit of modernisation, identity is being lost, through the displacement of people and loss of structures that “contribute to a sense of what the city is”. Trying to save the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex is top of their agenda.

“If you lose your heritage structures, what makes your city or town different from the next one? If we manage to save our heritage structures then we can tell a story about our towns,” he said.

They are not the only ones trying to change the narrative. There is a growing movement to reclaim spaces to be used or enjoyed by the public. And art is central to the idea of a more sustainable future.



Creating more green space for residents to enjoy can make a city feel more liveable.


“Obviously the cities are getting bigger and bigger but we’re not getting more space,” said Lai del Rosario, the head of arts and creative industries at the British Council, Philippines.

“Creative projects are very important in urban life, not just as a source of inspiration but also they add to our quality of life.”

She is leading a project to regenerate Pasig River, a major artery through Metro Manila that was traditionally a transport route and water source, but has become heavily polluted and neglected.




Canals and rivers in Manila are often heavily polluted, and are under utilised public spaces.


Within months, art installations will adorn a series of flood pumping stations along the waterway, ideally providing a boost to local culture and enriching neighbourhoods.

In a similar way, the artist-run space 98B COLLABoratory has set up its operations in the old downtown district of Escolta, an area that is rundown but slowly being revived by such alternate ventures.

The group’s executive director Marika Constantino believes they have the power to reach local residents, rather than push them away as the area gentrifies. “Accessibility is very important – the common misconception is that art is for the educated or the elite. We try and create projects that can engage the wider population,” she said.


When engaged, public restoration projects have already been proven to work in some residential areas. In Estero de Paco, a canal of “dark grime and filth” where “the stench of water sticks to your skin” has been transformed into a leafy waterside recreation area for local residents.

“River warriors”, a group of locals who clean up the small river daily are proud of their local environment, while others enjoy community gardens.


River warrior Lourdes Isaac says she feels pride keeping her community clean.


But once again, it also meant that shanties along the canal were removed and their occupants sent to outer districts. For now, even positive developments still come with a cost.

While the situation may not be perfect, it is something tangible for a poorer community to build upon. For them, it is far more valuable than any number of new malls.












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