Starter Communities: Architecture and Rural Urbanism in Cavite Province

Project Info
  • Theme Community-Based
  • Type Framework
  • Scale National
  • Location Philippines
  • AuthorsRafi SegalKelly Leilani Main
  • CollaboratorsHelena RongMarlena FauerMelissa Gutierrez SotoStratton CoffmanMengqi HeMengfu KuoRachel Li-Jiang LuoNof NathansohnZhifei XuNitzan Zilberman

Rapid urbanization is eroding the historic boundary between the center-city and its peripheries and limiting the ability of city-regions to adapt to increasing environmental impacts of climate change. As people settle continuously around the borders, new housing, industrial, and commercial space creates a continuous condition of low-rise horizontal development with multi-centered amenities and scattered pockets of open  space. This ‘between-city’, a new type of urbanity that breaks from the traditional center-periphery model, creates a multi-model urban landscape shaped by an ‘a la carte’ menu of recreational, commercial, and economic activities and relatively high dependency on individual mobility. Sieverts, Thomas. Cities without Cities: an Interpretation of the Zwischenstadt. Spon Press, 2003.

Dispersal is easy to critique, but the questions remain whether we truly understand not just the challenges but also the opportunities that this form of urbanity can offer.  Rather than fight against this process, Starter Communities asks whether it is possible to design dispersal into something that builds belonging between people and restores our relationship with the landscapes we inhabit.  It asks whether a new rural-urban paradigm can make development more sustainable and help communities increase their resilience to the risks of climate change.

Starter Communities provides design concepts at two scales: a rural-urban ‘vision plan’ for growth and resiliency at the scale of the province and an exploration of the types, sizes and designs of community plans. This book is a summary of the work done until now, and features work from the January 2019 workshop with MIT School of Architecture and Planning students.

Starter Communities is but a beginning. For the current and future residents of Cavite, it seeks a better lifestyle in harmony with the landscape, less dependent on long commutes and individual car ownership. It seeks neighborhood designs that are more affordable, more resilient, and more community oriented. For architects and urbanists, the project is a call to engage simultaneously in multiple scales at varying capacities rather than attempt a single top-down design. The successful urban project here needs to strategically fix in place those elements that inspire and facilitate opportunities for growth while emphasizing balance between the natural and the built environments. This is the future we imagine.

Cavite Province, Philippines

Mengfu Kuo

Cavite Province, Philippines

Rafi Segal

Planned residential estate under construction, Cavite Province, Philippines

Rafi Segal

Homes within planned residential estate, Cavite Province, Philippines

Nitzan Zilberman