Symbiotic Infrastructures

Resilient Masterplan for Manila’s floods
Manila, Philippines

A densifying context

Filipinos inhabiting Luzon Island do not fear the state of risk of their location. Typhoons, monsoons, flooding, landslides, volcanoes, and earthquakes does not hinder the habitat of this part of the archipelago. In fact, with over 60 million inhabitants, Luzon is the fourth most populated Islands in the world. More than 20 million is already urbanized population which live in Metro Manila, and the remain 40 million live either in rural conditions or smaller cities that surround Metro Manila. The now president Duterte, with its motto “Build, build, build”, is calling for an unprecedent investment in infrastructure that will improve mobility within Metro Manila and will connect the rural areas to the city center. This will further intensify the density of the metropolis through migrating processes, and will improve mobility within Manila, but what about the floods?

The floodinf problem

One of the main climatic events with which Manila struggles more, is flooding caused by the monsoon seasons, and by typhoons, which inundate the city repeatedly during the year – challenging the existing hard infrastructures proposed by the previous governments and decreasing the wellbeing of the most needed.

Digging in the proposals of Duterte’s presidency (refer to this link), 100% of them are purely to improve mobility, finding no proposal to improve the flooding condition. Only the World Bank proposes a plan, which is mainly based on continuing the development of hard infrastructure proposals (such as dams, barriers, or sea fronts), forecasting techniques, and drainage systems; elements that are already being challenged with the current situation.

The flooding issues that Manila has is mostly related to the lack of green spaces, which makes of Manila’s conurbation an impermeable asphalt and concrete layer that worsen the seasonal floods. Acknowledging the urban densification, urban footprint and migration processes that will follow the infrastructure development, and the lack of resilient masterplans, it is recognized that without a proper masterplan for flooding resiliency, the future well-being of Manila’s inhabitants is questionable.

A symbiotic infrastructure

To contribute to Manila’s flooding resiliency, this project proposes the thesis of multiplying the utility of the infrastructures proposed by Duterte in a territorial acupuncture fashion (see figure green). This thesis takes advantage of the way of how this infrastructure is built through the city – through a series of viaducts and bridges that jump over the existing urban network and remain safe in case of floods. In this sense, a railway’s viaduct will not only serve for mobility purposes, but to inhabit a community, to propose public spaces, facilities, and commerce to the surrounding neighborhood.

The case study presented here, takes the North-South Railway Project (NSRP), a high-speed train that connects the most ruralized areas of Luzon (North and South), and reconfigures its viaduct towards a symbiotic, site specific intervention. The specific point selected in the railway, is one of the few green areas within Metro Manila, in between the neighborhoods of Valenzuela, Malabon, and Caloocan, current attractor points for the incoming rural population.


A project for FuturArc Asia-Pacific. Developed by LAIA Lab with own funds.
Team: Gabriel Muñoz Moreno, Rafael García-Monge Pozo
Location: Manila, Philippines
Production: 2019


Lower Dream State PDF