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AMERICAN COLONIAL URBAN DESIGN

HISTORY

The 1896 Philippine Revolution paved the way to the


countrys independence fromSpain. However, it
Became a short lived liberty when the Americans
became the countrys new invaders. There was a
drastic change on the architectural design which was
introduced by the Americans as they establish the
civil Government. A lot of structures were built to
serve as government buildings from cities to
municipalities. The design and style of
the establishments were akin to Greek or Roman
constructions.
The American tradition in Philippine architecture covers the period
from 1898 to the present, and encompasses all architectural styles, such as
the European styles, which came into the Philippines during the American
colonial period.

This tradition is represented by churches, schoolhouses, hospitals,


government office buildings, commercial office buildings, department
stores, hotels, movie houses, theaters, clubhouses, supermarkets, sports
facilities, bridges, malls, and high-rise buildings.

New forms of residential architecture emerged in the tsalet, the two-


story house, and the Spanish-style house. The contemporary tradition
refers to the architecture created by Filipinos from 1946 to the present,
which covers public buildings and private commercial buildings, religious
structures, and domestic architecture like the bungalow, the one-and-a-half
story house, the split-level house, the middle-class housing and the low-cost
housing project units, the townhouse and condominium, and least in size
but largest in number, the shanty.
AMERICAN ERA
Unlike the Spaniards, the Americans gave greater emphasis on
other social values like sanitation, housing, and other aesthetic
improvements. Some of these values, however, were not American
in origin. The ideas of urban development through sanitation
practices and mass housing were born as a reaction to the ills of
industrialization in Europe [Benevolo in Ocampo, 1992].
Planning under the influence of the Americans is typified by
the Daniel H. Burnham's plan of Manila. In December 1904,
Burnham was commissioned to prepare the physical development
plan for the cities of Manila and Baguio. Trained as an architect and
guided by the principles of the City Beautiful Movement, he
envisioned the city manifesting aesthetic elements such as wide
boulevards, public edifices and landscaped parks. In the United
States, Burnham draw plans for cities like Chicago, Washington,
Cleveland, and San Francisco.
Burnham was not only a man of artistic talents. His successor in the
Philippines named William E. Parsons described him as a man of
"sound business judgment and experience," a man who can
convince practical of business to "make no little plans." Burnhams
objective was to make cities "convenient for commerce and
attractive and healthful as a place of residence [Parsons, 1915]." His
plan for Manila provided for the rapid increase of the population
and the explosion of the citys industries.
Burnham prescribed the grid pattern for the city of Manila.
However, the gridiron was interspersed with the circumferential and
diagonal arteries, which was reminiscent of his designs for San
Francisco, Chicago, and Washington. He proposed that the Bay
areas would be extended through reclamation and a new port would
be constructed. True to his City Beautiful principles, he further
proposed the development of nine parks, two new playfields, and
fountains throughout the city for public leisure.
DANIEL H. BURNHAM
In Burnham's plan, there were sites allotted for national and
municipal buildings near Intramuros, hospitals, and colleges.
Spaces were also set for a world-class hotel, city and country clubs, a
casino, boat clubs, public baths, and the new residence for the
Governor General. Resorts were also to be developed near Manila
but the ultimate escape during the summer season would be the city
of Baguio.
Burnham's plan also called for the development of Binondo as the
center of business and merchandising. Improvements were to be
made in the areas wharf, warehouse, and other port facilities. In
addition to extension of the port along the Pasig, it would also be
linked to railroads extending to north and south provinces. The plan
served as a proposal to the private sector. Burnham hoped that
through private action the expansion and developments in ports and
roads would be expedited.
In 1905, six months after he visited the Philippines,
Burnham sent back the preliminary plans back for
Manila. However, another architect was to implement
Burnhams plan. William E. Parsons was appointed
Consulting Architect to the Insular Government.
City planning was beginning to get institutionalized
during Parson's time. The Consulting Architect post
occupied by Parsons was considered the nucleus of the
Division of Architecture in the Insular Bureau of Public
Works. However, the position of City Architect was
created not until 1920, long after Parsons left the post in
1914.
Why Parsons left the post was not clear. Some observers said that it
apparently was due to political reasons. But before Parsons left, the
Governor General made sure that general plans for the cities of
Cebu and Zamboanga and master plans for cities like Iloilo were
prepared. Among the successors of Parsons were Doane and
Arellano [the latter was a contemporary of Tomas Mapua].
Other city planning issues were tackled later. Different interest
groups attended to matters like sanitation and mass housing. These
concerns were neglected by the architects and engineers. In 1908,
Insular Health workers introduced the concept of "sanitary barrios,"
which were exemplary in the sense that they reflected the new
sanitation and building standards. Other sectors like the labor group
established their own barrio obrero even without the benefit of the
aid of the city government.
POST-WAR PERIOD
In 1936, the Interior Department created local and planning
commissions composed of the Provincial Governor, district
engineer, and other local officials. The work of the new body
included the survey of local conditions and the preparation of plans
to be proposed to the Director of Public Works. Although town
planning was given a boost during this period, the practice was yet
to be established as a discipline. The problem during this pre-war
period was that there was a limited pool of trained city planners
both in the local planning commissions and the Bureau of Public
Works.
The Office of the President created in 1950 the National Planning
Commission [NPC]. The NPC prepared and helped administer plans
and regulations for the local government. After 1959, however, some
powers of the NPC like zoning, subdivision, and building regulation
were devolved to the city and municipal governments.
MANILA URBAN PLANNING
MANILA : URBAN PLANNING
Burnham came to the Philippines with Pierce Anderson in 1904 and
surveyed Manila and Baguio.

Burnham admired the architecture of the bahay na bato and the


colonial churches and suggested that they be models for Manilas
future development.

After a short six (6) weeks, Burnham returned to America and


completed the sweeping master plans for the two (2) cities, which
met enthusiastic response from the colonial government.

The master plan aimed to reconfigure Manila and Baguio as


testimonies to American imperial presence and technological
modernity.
For Manila, Burnham recommended detailed procedures
for imperial place-making:

the development of the waterfront and the location of parks,


playfields and parkways so as to promote sufficient opportunities
for urban recreation to every quarter in the city;

the establishment of a street system, which would create direct and


convenient communication from every part of the city, to every
other sector or district;

the zoning of building sites for various functions, the development


of waterways or esteros for transportation;

the provision of summer resorts within an accessible distance from


the city.

It had a civic core; radial emanating from this core were laid over a
gridiron pattern and large parks interconnected by parkways.
The centrepiece of the Burnham Plan was the civic core
where the grand concourse that formed from the bay and
terminated to an arc further inland. Here, Burnham
envisioned a national capitol complex where colonnaded
buildings were formally arranged around a rectangular
plaza.

Burnham provided perspective rendering of how the


future buildings should look a domed classical
structure resembling the American Capitol. Radiating
from this civic core as a series of tree-lined boulevards
superimposed on an efficient gridiron street system.
These radials divided the city into five sections and
produced a street system that directed traffic efficiently
up to a point where diagonals were introduced as a
continuous connection between sections.