It’s the new benchmark for high-rise living.
While towering residential condominium buildings and massive mixed-use complexes have become a common sight in most major cities in the Philippines and in many cosmopolitan urban centers elsewhere in the world, vertical cities are proving to be the new norm, further raising the modern living standards to provide a more conducive community for both residents and locators.
But not all mixed use projects can lay claim to having a truly vertical city.
Beyond being a mere dense cluster of concrete towers that share a common space, a vertical city should be designed primarily with its residents and locators in mind, which meant offering better efficiencies in the use of space, adequate open spaces with greenery to provide the community common areas viable for interaction and bonding, a new level of convenience through improved connectivity across all components of the township, proximity to transport nodes and key institutions, design aesthetics that would complement and enhance the city skyline, as well as smart, sustainable features to future-proof the township.
Such features aptly define Uptown Bonifacio, which is shaping up to be the local archetype of a vertical city. This was a practical move for property giant Megaworld Corp. as the 15.4-ha township would have, on any given day, some 50,000 workers, 60,000 mall goers and about 3,000 residents within its vicinity, thus making connectivity even more important.
“When you have so many people under one roof, you need to have good platforms of connections to efficiently manage the volume of people. We don’t want hundreds of people crossing the road at the same time for instance,” Megaworld chief strategy officer Kevin Andrew L. Tan explained.
Efficient connectivity is indeed crucial for the award-winning Uptown Bonifacio, as it has four luxury residential towers (One Uptown Residence, Uptown Ritz, Uptown Parksuites, and Uptown Arts Residence); the five-level Uptown Mall which is home to international luxury brands; Uptown Parade, a 25,000-sqm strip that houses the biggest nightlife destination in the country—The Palace—as well as an eclectic mix of specialty restaurants serving international cuisines; and modern office towers including the 20-storey Alliance Global Tower, the headquarters of the Alliance Global Group Inc.
Megaworld clearly raised the bar anew for this township as it created an elaborate network of bridges, underground passages, and elevated walkways that do not only offer utmost convenience to residents, office workers and visitors, but more importantly, provide adequate breathing space to really live, work, and play—the very essence of all Megaworld townships. Soon, the township will also be connected got a skytrain and a subway, once these key public infrastructure projects are completed.
“The biggest benefit here would be the seamless interconnection to and from the various components of this township. We have carefully designed the make-up of Uptown Bonifacio taking into consideration the ideas of comfort, mobility, and free-flowing access,” Tan explained. “We also took into the consideration the underground airconditioned link for residences so they can walk to the mall without getting wet or enduring the heat. These ideas truly help us promote walkability around the entire township, good health, and sustainable living.”
The key here, he added, is connection and walkability. The mall in itself is the center of it all as it houses everything you need—dining options, two groceries, drugstores, appliance stores, lifestyle brands, clothing, shoes, cosmetics, services. There are also medical facilities, gyms, salons, and dental clinic all under one roof and connected to each other.
Tan admitted that there are challenges that come with creating a vertical city.
He pointed out that a lot of engineering and architectural ingenuity must come into the picture. Among these challenges was how they can efficiently circulate people and how to manage the back of the house or what the eyes can’t see. Designing Uptown’s infrastructure was likewise crucial. Since many of their buildings are LEED certified, all sustainable features—such as waste management, rooftop gardens, solar power, among others—should be incorporated in the planning.
But this is the only way to go, Tan stressed, especially in a place like Bonifacio Global City where land is scarce and expensive.
According to Tan, connectivity is one of the pillars of their live-work-play concept, which brings together key components that fit today’s cosmopolitan lifestyle. This recognizes a growing demand from people wanting to live where they work, and to dine, shop, and do everything within the same space. And Uptown Bonifacio is one vertical community that promotes a lot of interaction with different people through the different common spaces it has provided.
“The spaces that we have created here define the relationships of people within this community. It has now become a melting pot of different people, from different backgrounds, places, people with different purpose. It has become an active community, which is synergistic in nature. People learn from each other as they interact with one other. You can go to the park, you can watch a concert or a show, and you can go to quirky spaces. It’s an inclusive community where people come together for different purposes at different times of the day,” he further said.
Uptown is also home to spaces where people can share ideas. US-based WeWork has set up within this township, offering shared workspaces for technology startup subculture communities, and services for entrepreneurs, freelancers, and startups.
“Although we build so much, we still want people to feel that the community is not dense. We put a lot of design elements and countless hours of studying to make sure that every corner of our spaces here feels very relaxed,” he added.
Tan admitted that they have really pushed themselves to see how far they can go in creating such a synergistic vertical community as Uptown Bonifacio. This township, in fact, was awarded Best Township Development at the 2019 Philippines Property Awards, while the 45-storey Uptown Arts Residence bagged the Best Luxury Condo Interior Design award.
Despite the difficulties, Tan said they are looking to replicate this model in the urban townships they will create, especially in the city centers where mass transit will be crucial and demand for offices is high.
“We believe we can do an even better version of this later on, and connect more components like schools, hospitals, museums, and many more, in our townships. There are so many things we can connect into this model, and it’s something that we are continuing to develop,” Tan concluded.
Posted July 13, 2019 03:15AM,
Written by Amy R. Remo of Philippine Daily Inquirer
GOING BEYOND MEGA STRUCTURES
It was a simple vision that turned into a legacy more profound, far-reaching and heartfelt than one can ever measure.
Thirty years since its inception, Megaworld Corp. has rightfully emerged as a property giant, with self-made tycoon Dr. Andrew L. Tan at the helm of this impressive success story. From its humble beginnings that took off with the launch of Eastwood City, its first live-work-play township, Megaworld takes pride on how far it has gone, becoming the most awarded real estate developer in the country today.
It took that simple dream of providing quality homes and lifestyles to more Filipinos and transformed it to a new and more inclusive overarching vision that sees Megaworld townships of the future further uplifting lives, having a bigger impact on the society, and helping shape the nation.
EVOLVING THE LANDSCAPE
Today, the trailblazer has emerged even stronger, better and well ahead of its game, bringing its wealth of experience and expertise aptly honed over the past 30 years to more promising locations outside the main urban centers.
“Our company is strategically taking the township lifestyle into more locations in the Philippines. Today, the Megaworld Group is present in over 30 cities across the country. In these cities, we consistently launch new projects to infuse new value and evolve the landscape so it always stays vibrant, relevant and meaningful,” said the Megaworld founder and chairman.
As of end 2018, Megaworld has 24 sprawling, thriving townships with its pioneering, oftpraised live-work-play concept; a massive 4,688 hectares in land bank in key locations; 696 holistic residential developments that have helped enhance the lifestyles of its residents; 63 premium grade office towers with gross leasable space of 1.2 million sqm; 700,000 sqm filled with well curated array of retail, dining and entertainment choices spread across 19 Megaworld Lifestyle Malls; and nine premium hotels, with 2,554 hotel keys.
Such an impressive roster of achievements, which further cemented the company’s strong leadership in the market, has long caught the eye of many reputable award-giving bodies, both from here and abroad, enabling Megaworld to earn prestigious accolades that speak well of its staunch commitment to excellence and innovation.
In 2018 alone, Megaworld’s significant contributions to helping reshape the urban and rural landscapes allowed it to achieve an exceptional feat—a total of 102 distinct awards, 40 percent of which were conferred in esteemed international tilts. Seven of these citations meanwhile named Megaworld as the Best or Outstanding Developer of the Year—a milestone that seem to fittingly set the positive tone for the future of the company.
But there is another side to this success story, another face that goes way beyond all these remarkable, whopping numbers, and countless accolades from prestigious tilts.
What Megaworld has essentially created in the last 30 years is a powerful ripple effect that continues to resonate in the lives of many Filipino workers and families, cities and municipalities, industries, the economy, and the country as a whole even to this day.
It has, without a doubt, become a catalyst for growth, transforming pockets of idle land into bustling districts humming with much energy and life. Megaworld has lived to see its vision soundly fulfilled—that it uplifts lives, impacts the society, and becomes a crucial partner in nation-building—and in the process, creating a legacy for the future generations to appreciate.
From its first township that is Eastwood City, Megaworld has touched the lives of many Filipino families in more ways than one, affording them with enhanced lifestyles through premium residential condominiums that are just a few minutes’ walk away from everything they Most awarded Filipino real estate firm moves forward to help shape the Philippines need. These enclaves offer a life that is centered on ease and convenience, serving as healthy and conducive sanctuaries that allow residents to foster ties and further nurture relationships within a safe and secure self-contained community.
These townships, touted as living landscapes, offered residents a piece of the world’s most renowned cities such as those in Europe and the United States, while still retaining a uniquely local flavor that pays homage to the country’s rich heritage and culture.
For instance, one township showcases the vineyard tradition of Italy, another exudes the cosmopolitan vibe of New York City, while an upcoming one has the country’s tallest bronze monument which is reminiscent of Madrid’s Arco de la Victoria and Paris’ Arc de Triomphe. Heritage museums are either planned or are already up in several of Megaworld’s townships— one promoting Ilonggo arts, customs, and traditions, another showcasing the rich culture and history of Binondo.
Within these townships are exciting retail strips and shopping malls that bring internationally renowned names, world class amenities and experiences while celebrating the finest that homegrown brands can offer.
Megaworld Lifestyle Malls has given residents, office workers and other guests a wide yet curated selection of the best—from retail, dining, to entertainment. And it continues to evolve with the newer malls becoming eye catching architectural marvels with state-of-theart facilities that bring one’s shopping and dining experience to a whole new level—case in point is the 90,000-sqm Festive Walk Iloilo, the first full-scale lifestyle mall in Western Visayas.
Multinational companies and local businesses found a home in Megaworld townships as well. As the country’s largest developer and landlord of office spaces, Megaworld has allowed not only companies, but more notably industries, to thrive, playing a crucial role as an enabler of growth.
Such was the case with the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry, which found its first home in Eastwood, dubbed as the country’s first cybercity that was accredited by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza). It was here that the industry eventually thrived before it developed into one of the country’s primary economic growth drivers, generating an estimated revenue of about $24.5 billion to $24.8 billion last year.
Since then, Megaworld offices have catered to more industries with premium-grade buildings equipped with the latest features and technologies. The newest would be for JP Morgan Chase Bank, which will occupy some 70,000 sqm of gross leasable space from a building targeted for completion by 2021—reportedly the biggest single office lease transaction made in the country. Co-working spaces, a growing trend in the country, also found a home in a Megaworld township.
An unparalleled experience similarly awaits in Megaworld’s expanding portfolio of homegrown hotel brands that include Richmonde Hotels, Savoy, Belmont, Twin Lakes, and Hotel Lucky Chinatown. With over 2,500 hotel keys, Megaworld is not just making its presence felt, but more notably, complementing the government’s thrust to attract 12 million international tourists by 2022, up from the 7.1 million arrivals recorded last year.
Providing tourists with exceptional stays through its hotels would allow Megaworld to help achieve such targets which if met, would have a tremendous impact on the country. As it is, the travel and tourism industry already accounted for almost a fifth or 24.7 percent of the total economy and 8.4 percent of total exports last year. Not to mention the multiplier effect it has, benefiting countless cottage industries and homegrown brands that cater to tourists.
But what perhaps stands out is the fact that Megaworld has helped unlock the potential in many key areas outside the metro—spearheading the growth even—as it brought its signature live-work-play townships in the provinces. And the stark difference is that when it started to bet on these provinces, it made sure to bet big, thus helping revitalize their economies, while giving residents the kind of lifestyle they truly deserve.
Megaworld has not only created new districts and raised the standards of living in the provinces. It more importantly spurred business activities, gave homegrown firms another platform to showcase their brands, generated fresh, quality jobs, and afforded many others to have the same heightened experience of living in a township as those in the urban metro.
And soon enough, Megaworld townships will also become a breeding ground for the next generation of leaders. Last year, the Newtown School of Excellence opened its doors to its first batch of enrollees, enabling Megaworld’s Mactan Newtown in Lapu-Lapu City to embrace the “learn aspect” of the township concept.
This dovetails well with Dr. Tan’s advocacy to provide opportunities for the youth through education, as reflected in the various initiatives that the company, through its Megaworld Foundation, undertakes every single year.
To date, Megaworld has granted some 5,000 scholarships to its beneficiaries, 500 of whom are now working for companies under the Alliance Global Group. The Foundation also supports advocacies for women, children, the elderly, and differently abled, as wells campaigns geared towards healthcare, eco-conservation and calamity assistance.
Beyond the confines of the townships, Megaworld also takes to heart its duty as responsible stewards of land, creating sustainable communities with the least impact to the environment. It currently covers some 1,500 hectares of protected lands, has spearheaded more than 50 green projects and has built 19 sustainable office towers across the country.
By 2030, Megaworld is aiming for a much loftier goal as it targets its townships to be carbon neutral by then.
All these show that Megaworld truly leads with a heart, that it embraces the communities and the environment where it is present, ensuring that the growth in its townships will also be felt and enjoyed by the surrounding areas.
And as Megaworld celebrates its 30th year, it found a way to further enhance the Philippine landscape and the quality of lifestyle it provides to residents and locators. In 2018, Megaworld invested heavily in iTownships—smart townships that focus on answering the community’s need for integration, interaction and interconnectivity. Such townships seamlessly incorporate digital technology, design innovations into its developments to make it future- proof.
“Having these features in our township does not only make our developments future-ready, but it also allow us to take greater steps toward sustainability and environment responsibility,” said Megaworld chief strategy officer Kevin Andrew Tan.
Indeed, much has already been achieved but Megaworld is taking stock of its stellar performance in recent past, building on them, improving and innovating further, future-proofing communities to leave a far deeper imprint and craft an even better legacy for the generations to come.
Priming iTownships of the future
His gameplan may sound simple enough, but it entails a far more complex and substantial responsibility being heaved on his lap.
For Kevin, the son of Megaworld founder and chairman Dr. Andrew L. Tan, the vision for a property giant that spearheaded many innovations over the last three decades is clear: that Megaworld continues to uplift lives, impact the society and help shape the nation wherever its townships are located.
“We will continue to focus on the development of our townships and our undeveloped properties across the Philippines in the years to come,” Kevin said when asked how he intends to continue his father’s legacy. “Much of our efforts will still be aimed at introducing more of our residential developments and investment properties, which cover Megaworld Lifestyle Malls, Megaworld Premier Offices, and Megaworld Hotels. Our existing land bank would be sufficient for the next 10 to 15 years of development.”
“More importantly, we will continue to embrace our purpose by fulfilling our company’s vision. This alone makes us very excited about our future,” added Kevin, who currently sits as the chief strategy officer for Megaworld.
Over the next five years up to 2024, Megaworld said it plans to invest a staggering P300 billion to scale up its developments and beef up its land bank across the country.
This massive capital spending will allow the company to further expand its townships and integrated lifestyle developments across teh country, while banking on the same passion, commitment and a culture of excellence and innovation that fueled the growth of the company over the last 30 years.
“I think what really helped drive us during the past three decades was our commitment to embrace technology and innovation in everything that we do. Having the ability to harness technology as a differentiator enabled us to enjoy a competitive edge, and that’s what we have been championing for the longest time now,” the younger Tan said in an interview.
Kevin cited as an example the iTownships program they launched last year with the goal of future-proofing townships and developments.
“By marrying together innovation, integration, internet, and interconnectivity, we have been able to create the townships of the future where communities can efficiently grow and thrive,” Kevin furhter noted.
“It’s been very intentional on our part to adopt technology and innovation because we believe we are in a distinct position to make a difference in the lives of Filipinos. At the end of the day, organizations like us are in the business of helping shape the nation by creating more progressive communities, and in all starts by empowering people and various economic sectors to grow too,” he concluded.
Posted July 1, 2019
Written by Amy R. Remo of Philippine Daily Inquirer