By Maya M. Padillo
An urban planner of the Palafox Architecture Group disclosed that Agriya, an 88 hectare mixed-use development by Damosa Land Inc, was designed based on the urban growth and local context of Panabo City.
The architectural group is headed by Felino Palafox, one of the country’s more prominent and multi-awarded urban planners.
With groundbreaking held yesterday, Agriya has a master-planned concept that includes residential, commercial, agri-tourism, and institutional components.
“We give respect to the local context of Panabo City and of Mindanao, primarily the agricultural heritage of the place. From the urban growth and pattern of the current in Panabo City center we extend it towards its development,” said Karina Patricia Palafox, a group director, in an interview.
Aiming to preserve the natural environment with minimal disruption on the existing natural characteristics, Palafox said the development is more compact that will encourage people to walk, unlike the others wherein one has to take the car or a jeep or tricycle to go from the house, buy bread and bananas, to go to a bank, or to a healthcare facility.
“In our planning, each cluster from any point in the 88 hectares has at least 10 activities, 10 land uses, and people are encouraged to walk. It is also the request of the client na hindi masyadong mataas na mga buildings as not to disrupt so much of the current urban growth and pattern,” she said.
Palafox said they also designed the project for flexibility in terms of building heights and building types. In relation to the flexibility, there are interim uses of the areas such as for open spaces first, but these may be utilized later for tourism, primarily agri-eco-tourism.
“For example, learning from the mistakes of other towns and cities, it’s like we’re stuck in the 1960s. Parang at the building level you can’t change the use. Even the office, it’s hard to transform into residential,” she said.
She cited as an example big shopping centers with lots of vacant spaces because of e-commerce.
“So if we do have commercial areas here, they will be flexible, na kahit 100 years from now, they will still be able to adapt to the market,” Palafox said.
She said the before her team even began the drawings, they studies the actual site and the surrounding areas of Panabo as well as its connection to Davao City.
“What we found: a lot of lands and fishponds,” she said, adding that such areas may be converted to other uses such as flood control water sports facilities.
The 88 hectares will not be a single, sprawling development wherein everyone will gravitate towards one big center. It will be subdivided into clusters that are self-sustaining, according to Palafox.
“If it is only one center, it’s hard to be ‘walkable’ and ‘bikeable.’ Per phase, they have their own sub-centers and, hopefully, there will be public transport to connect the centers and some of the people living here will have to travel to and from Davao City for work. Hopefully the city government can also connect not just this but all the future developments with the main roads,” she said.
Damosa Land Inc. vice president Ricardo “Cary” Lagdameo told media that from the original plan, they broke it up into several phases.
“I think half of the land is included in the first phase already. First phase will be composed of a residential component roughly about 10 hectares, an institution component, some commercial component. I think one of the biggest of the projects within the project is the agri-tourism project. That alone probably is 10 hectares as well,” Lagdameo said.
Construction priorities include the University of the Philippines Professional School for Agriculture and the Environment (UP PSAE), which is a public-private partnership between the University of the Philippines-Los Banos (UPLB), Anflocor, and Damosa Land. The total roll-out of development of UP PSAE both in infrastructure and campus program will be spread over the next seven years.
The residential component is expected to begin by the third quarter of this year.
“If you look at the plan, some of the clusters (resemble) the banana tree. The design inspiration is a banana plant. Everything stems from the main road and connected to the fruit up to the heart. So each cluster is connected to the main bark and branch out,” Palafox said.
Anflocor stands for Antonio Floirendo Corporation, one of the country’s foremost exporters of Cavendish bananas.
Agriya is located in Panabo City, Davao del Norte covering the following barangays: New Pandan, Cagangohan, and Sto. Niño.