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Issue 4
Planning a
Disaster-Resilient
City
A showcase for smart sustainability in the Philippines.
Urban Planning and Design,  Surbana Jurong

January 2022

The conservation and enhancement of Cutcut River habitat and park flowing along National Government Administrative Centre (NGAC) brings together and reconnects people with nature
Abstract: Planned as the gateway to New Clark City in the Philippines, the National Government Administrative Centre (NGAC) aims to be a smart, sustainable and disaster-resilient metropolis for the country. Surbana Jurong’s master plan update of NGAC has evolved to integrate the built sports venues alongside government functions to serve as the country’s primary back-up administration centre in response to the challenges of congestion, pollution, calamities and other disruptions in Metro Manila. This is set to raise the confidence of the people and businesses choosing to reside in this great metropolis.

Introduction to the National Government Administrative Centre

The National Government Administrative Centre (NGAC) is a catalyst development that will serve as the symbolic gateway and civic district of the New Clark City (NCC) in the Philippines.
After hosting a successful Southeast Asian Games in 2019, the master plan update of NGAC evolved to integrate the built sports venues alongside government functions to be the country’s primary back-up administration centre in response to congestion, pollution, and future risks from calamities and other disruptions in the capital region. The vision for the district is “An Active, Distinctive and Innovative Civic Hub and Cultural Heart of New Clark City.”

The vision for the district is “An Active, Distinctive and Innovative Civic Hub and Cultural Heart of New Clark City.”

Seeking to advance NCC as the Philippine’s growth engine, the Philippines Japan Initiative for Clark Green City Inc. (PJIC) (See Note 1 below) has been charged to engage local and international expertise required to shepherd, support, and realise this ambition. Forging the PJIC partnership allows the semi-private entity to react rapidly and objectively in the procurement of services to initiate and progress the master plan.
In May 2021, Surbana Jurong delivered the detailed concept master plan and the design standards and guidelines of NGAC, thereby setting forth a development framework for the district with fully integrated infrastructure and utilities to facilitate efficient implementation of future developments.
Image 02 1 scaled 1
New Clark City, a greenfield satellite city, linked via existing highways and future commuter rail from Metro Manila and cargo rail from Subic port
With the participation of several private investors and government agencies, Phase 1A (See Note 2) in the NGAC was planned and constructed in record time by MTD Capital Berhad. West of NGAC district, Filinvest Land Inc’s mixed-use and industrial estate for future job opportunities is now under construction.
South of the commercial district, NCC’s central park is at its conceptual design stage (a study funded by the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office) to establish the city’s public heart. The confidence of these pioneer developers and partners was encouraged by PJIC’s committed cooperation and the government’s infrastructure initiatives prioritising Clark and Northern Luzon.
Located on a former US Air Force facility (Clark Air Base), the Clark Special Economic and Freeport Zone (CSEFZ) was developed and split into two distinct development zones: Clark Freeport Zone and New Clark City.
The Freeport Zone includes an industrial estate, a logistic hub, with facilities for training, conferences, tourism and leisure, and Clark International Airport. To the north, NCC was conceived as a satellite city of Metro Manila to become the Philippines’ largest and first smart, sustainable and disaster-resilient metropolis. The NGAC will be the symbolic gateway and civic district of this ambitious metropolis.

New Clark City was conceived as a satellite city of Metro Manila to become the Philippines' largest and first smart, sustainable and disaster-resilient metropolis.

Screenshot 2022 01 10 at 2.11.03 PM
Clark: The subdivided economic zones within the former US military base in the Philippines

Advantages of NGAC

Located away from key disaster zones, NGAC is well-positioned to become a resilient and attractive alternate administrative centre to the Philippines’ government and national agencies that are currently in Metro Manila.
The NGAC district aims to serve as a model development within NCC and perhaps even Southeast Asia. The parcels are subdivided in reasonable block sizes for walkability, at the same time enticing local and international upstart locators (See Note 3) and major developers to invest in the growth of NCC, leading to a vibrant mix of uses for its residents, workers, and visitors around the clock. On top of that, the estate is also governed in a transparent and objective process to strengthen a sense of pride amongst its citizens and enhance the national identity.
Focused on nature conservation, healthy living, social inclusiveness, national identity and good governance, the detailed master plan of NGAC will ensure that the vision and guiding principles are upheld to optimise available land for high quality and high value uses, with the Cutcut River habitat and park along NGAC preserved to reconnect the people with nature. The NGAC plan and its design standards and guidelines (DSG) shall serve as a guide for potential and like-minded locators to help achieve a vibrant and resilient district.
Image 04 1 scaled 1
NCC’s symbolic gateway and civic centre, NGAC district hosted the 2019 SEA Games catalysing development and evolving as the country’s primary back-up administration centre in response to congestion, pollution, and future risks from calamities and other disruptions in the capital region
As a system for managing developments in NCC, the DSG shall remain flexible and adaptable to future changes in the local context and fluctuations in market demand. Furthermore, the document describes a set of design criteria encouraging locators to go beyond minimum development requirements and to create a cohesive and an attractive environment embodying the vision of NCC.
To achieve that, the key objectives for the detailed design and guidelines are aimed to advance the master plan through urban and infrastructure design standards benefitting all stakeholders and end users. The guidelines also propose a comprehensive development control framework guiding and managing buildings, infrastructure, and public spaces; and introduce contemporary and global-best practice development concepts facilitating and attracting investments.
A diverse mix of uses and functions have been proposed within each precinct, evident in the five urban nodes that were selected primarily to articulate and apply the DSG, and to showcase the vision, aspirations and design intent of the District.
These nodes were purposely chosen just to the south of Cutcut River for this is not built-up yet and are outside the area earmarked for an existing developer.
By demonstrating the district’s potential, these nodes shall serve as distinct neighborhoods offering unique destinations and establishing varied precinct character throughout.

How Surbana Jurong assisted stakeholders

More importantly, SJ’s tasks included assisting key stakeholders by drafting an institutional and organisational framework supportive of their efforts and aspirations. Through capacity building workshops, Bases Conversion and Development Authority’s planning team, principal stakeholders and authorities were trained by imparting the group with the relevant skillset and knowledge required to assess proposed projects in the implementation stages. The workshops covered the understanding of planning and review processes, which were then translated into a Development Training Manual to serve as an instructional guide for relevant parties and a source of reference for future stakeholders.

SJ's tasks included assisting key stakeholders by drafting an institutional and organisational framework supportive of their efforts and aspirations.

When NCC was conceptualised as a satellite city to Metro Manila and the hub of Central Luzon, the Philippines government planned to connect the area through its ‘Build Build Build’ infrastructure program (See Note 4). During the 2019 SEA games, the sports venues and facilities built in record time was largely funded by the government along with private sector support.
This event prompted more interest from locators and commitments from several government agencies and educational institutions to plan their developments here. Meanwhile, the Office of the President is encouraging all national level departments to designate enough staff (phased according to clusters) at NCC allowing their group to function in case of major disruptions in Metro Manila.
Future-forward planning model
During all stages of planning updates for NGAC, the detailed design and DSG of NGAC district will uphold its forward-looking vision and guiding principles. NGAC shall be a model district in NCC showcasing a distinct national identity, sense of belonging and better quality of life while serving as a resilient, future-proof and landmark administrative and recreational centre in the nation and beyond.
The influence of the planning efforts in NCC and specifically through NGAC district will be far reaching. It raises the standard of what cities should be in a country aspiring for a high-quality environment in its urban centres. More importantly, it will uplift the confidence and trust of the people and businesses choosing to live and locate in this great metropolis.
Image 05 1 scaled 1
Design Standard Guidelines:
“Beacon by the River”: Riverpoint will be the key landmark along Cutcut River and at the corner of major access roads to NCC serving as the primary meeting venue for a variety of national government functions and international conventions or events throughout the year
Notes:
  1. Philippines Japan Initiative for Clark Green City Inc. (PJIC) is a government to government joint cooperation between the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) and Japan Overseas Infrastructure Investment Corporation for Transport and Urban Development (JOIN) tasked to implement the future development of New Clark City initially planned by Aecom in 2017.  
  2. Phase 1A of NGAC served as the venue for the Southeast Asia Games in 2019 comprised of the following built facilities: sport stadium, aquatic centre, athlete village, government office, polyclinic, practice field, and a partial National River Park Corridor through a “build-and-transfer” procurement process.
  3. Locators are any person or entity, including a condominium corporation who is the registered owner of any lot within a development estate, or a buyer under a contract to sell, a mortgagee or other security holder, under foreclosure of the mortgage or exercise of his rights under the security arrangement, whether in actual possession of the lot. 
  4. Increasing connectivity to Clark, the ‘Build Build Build’ (BBB) program on infrastructure development includes Subic-Clark cargo rail (currently in planning and design), Philippine National Rail (PNR) extension from Malolos-Clark (under construction), and expansion of Clark International Airport Terminal (construction was recently completed and will start operation in Q4 2021.)
Project
National Government Administration Centre (NGAC) District
Location
New Clark City, Tarlac, Philippines
Size
243 ha
Status
Master Plan Update and Urban design completed in May 2021 that integrated the existing 2019 SEA Games sports venues
Client
Philippines Japan Initiative for New Clark City, Inc.
Services
Master Planning and Infrastructure Planning, Urban Design, Design Standard Guidelines, and Capacity Building
Collaboration
SMEC Philippines (Infrastructure)
Malaysia (Master Plan Support)
Firm / BU
SJ Planning Group
Project Lead
Jonace BASCON
Project Team
Louise Feng Luye, Livia Tan Shi-Qi, Yang Zhimin, Adrian Guzman, Novane Hizon, Gurusamy Isakkipandian
Keywords
Government Center, Sports Hub, Civic District
The SEEDS Journal, started by the architectural teams across the Surbana Jurong Group in Feb 2021, is a platform for sharing their perspectives on all things architectural. SEEDS epitomises the desire of the Surbana Jurong Group to Enrich, Engage, Discover and Share ideas among the Group’s architects in 40 countries, covering North Asia, ASEAN, Middle East, Australia and New Zealand, the Pacific region, the United States and Canada.
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