Architect, artist pitch esplanade for Pasig River as PAREX faces opposition

October 4, 2021 - 4:11 PM
View of Pasig River from Jones Bridge, Manila. (AltMobility PH /Facebook)

An architect and an artist proposed the construction of an esplanade along Pasig River instead of a highway, citing fewer costs.

They also said it is more environment-friendly.

These recommendations came weeks after the breaking ground of the construction of the controversial Pasig River Expressway despite the opposition against it.

PAREX is a 19.37-kilometer elevated expressway that would connect the eastern and western portions of Metro Manila.

San Miguel Corporation (SMC) is financing this P95-billion project.

Transport, environmental and science groups, however, have opposed its construction, citing environmental and traffic consequences.

They later issued a collective petition to put a stop to its construction that kicked off on September 24.

Palafox Associates and Palafox Architecture Group have also previously denied signing any agreement to be SMC’s consultant for PAREX.

“Palafox Associates and Palafox Architecture Group have not signed any contract to be the consultant of the Pasig River Expressway (PAREX),” the firms stated.

READ: ‘No contract signed’: Palafox firms deny inking deal for PAREX construction 

‘Esplanade instead of expressway’

Landscape architect and urban planner Paulo Alcazaren tweeted his suggestion for stakeholders to develop an esplanade instead.

Alcazaren noted that this would probably cost P1.5 billion as compared to the hefty budget allotted for an expressway.

“It would only cost 1.5 billion pesos to develop both sides of the 25 km long Pasig River into an esplanade like Iloilo’s. The resulting green area would be larger than Rizal Park. The PAREX is projected to cost 95 billion. Which would you prefer?” he said.

An esplanade is a “level open stretch of paved or grassy ground.”

Alcazaren designed the acclaimed River Esplanade in Iloilo City.

In 2018, the Iloilo River Esplanade won the “Haligi ng Dangal” award for Landscape Architecture conferred by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), through the National Committee on Architecture and the Allied Arts.

Filipino artist with the Twitter handle @chaeyeonieearts, also a  member of heritage advocate Renacimiento Manila, posted a sketch on October 3 of what an esplanade along Pasig River would look like should it be developed.

“An esplanade will always be better than an expressway above the river,” she wrote.

In a column published in Manila Times on September 25, Robert Siy, transport and mobility advocate, noted the important historical landmarks that would be affected should PAREX be built over the river.

“The heritage structures along the Pasig River such as buildings, fortifications, houses — could fill several days of a tourist’s itinerary. Intramuros — with its many schools, churches, public buildings, gardens, moats and walls — was the historic center of Manila during the Spanish colonial period,” Siy wrote.

“Five bridges — Jones, MacArthur, Ayala, Mabini and Quezon — each have stories to tell about the construction, destruction and resurrection of our metropolis over the centuries,” he added.

‘Skyways are not solutions to traffic’

Meanwhile, in an interview with One News last September 28, Alcazaren pointed out that skyways or elevated expressways also did not work for other countries.

He cited a skyway in Cheonggyecheon, South Korea where a skyway was torn down.

“It proved that the skyway didn’t improve the traffic at all. It didn’t address congestion,” Alcazaren said.

“And in dozens of cities worldwide, they’re tearing down skyways because these elevated expressways have been found – especially as the ones that go through the course of cities – will not help alleviate traffic congestion,” he added.

Alcazaren also posted on Twitter a concept illustration of PAREX on either side of the river.

“Either side of the Pasig it’s built, the PAREX will compromise heritage, not solve ‘traffic,’ and contribute noise and air pollution, lowering land values and blighting up the metro,” he said.

He also shared the view from Intramuros if an esplanade would be built.

RELATED: Critics of Pasig River expressway project ask gov’t to prioritize people over cars