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The vision of Architect William Ti


How would future communities look like? How would they adapt to the challenges of the present? How would architects address these challenges to create livable cities?


Horizon Manila by WTA Architecture and Design Studio is an answer to these questions. No wonder it won big at the 2021 World Architecture Festival — winner for the WAFX Water Category, and overall winner of the 2021 WAFX Award.According to William Ti Jr., principal architect of WTA Architecture and Design Studio, “When I think of tomorrow, all I want to see and hear are children playing and laughing; creating memories in thriving communities. The future is all about the next generation. It is about us finding a way to prosper in the human environments we have built for ourselves.”


Anchored on this vision, Ti and his team conceptualized Horizon Manila, a 419-hectare reclamation project in Manila Bay that seeks to house 150,000 Manileños. It will be composed of three islands connected by a canal park. The aim is to grow 28 diverse communities similar to how we have barangays. These communities will grow around schools, churches, ball courts, parks, museums, theaters, and shopping centers. These communities will naturally grow together through shared experiences.


Green, walkable, sustainable


Horizon Manila or Manileño will be a green space. It will increase the available public open space by over 50 percent in the city with its canal park and provide almost 20-kilometer of waterfront living. There will be tree-lined sidewalks and bike lanes, arcaded walkways, and a tram line that connects the three islands.


Over 70 percent of the shoreline will be planted with mangroves. This will allow people to walk all the way to the water’s edge and enjoy walks by the shore with the sunset and the skyline view.


Ti said they want people to reconnect with nature and appreciate public space.


“We are building a city where you are always 400 meters away from the nearest tram or ferry station and anywhere in the three islands is always just 15 minutes away. More than half of Horizon’s streetscape will be primarily pedestrian,” said Ti.


Another interesting detail of the project is the plan to harvest rainwater to solve water scarcity. Ti explained that Horizon will provide over three million cubic meters of freshwater reserve by collecting the annual rainfall. The projection is that the water reservoir can provide five months’ worth of freshwater to the city.


Manila, reimagined


While Horizon Manila is forward-looking, it remains rooted on the heritage of Manila.


The reintroduction of canals, reservoirs, and waterways aims to rekindle the memory of what it means to be Tagalog, to live by the river.


Meanwhile, each community or barangay, while distinct, will grow around a shared common ground. This is reflective of the historical districts of Manila, distinct yet interconnected — like how people can walk from Divisoria to Binondo, to Sta Cruz and Raon, from Ermita to Intramuros, from Malacañang to España.


Ti said, “We named this project Manileño to highlight the focus on our people. Cities are about people. The future is about building strong communities. Our communities are about life. Life by the water. Life in our beautiful city of Manila.”

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