by Eliza del Castillo for Shelter Magazine
Flashback to 2013: Ayala Land's Innovation and Design Group embarked on a project aimed at reimagining the Central Business District of Makati. A first of it's kind effort in the company, the planning and design team of Ayala Land tapped the young minds of its resident designers for an eight week effort to conceptualize new urban environments for the Philippines' financial capital. Dubbed RevIt, Makati! (Revitalize Makati), the key learnings were on the process as much as the output. Months later, the project was documented in a limited edition monograph which was subsequently featured on Shelter Magazine. Here, the feature is revisited, recalling the effort, the sense of pride and accomplishment, the possibilities that emerged, as well as the history behind the design team of the Philippines' most influential property development company. -- JLPD
In a multitude of modern buildings, Makati has put forth its mission and vision worth every investment and time. While Makati is thriving as the country’s premier lifestyle and business district, it aspires to go beyond its capabilities to make it enduringly competitive to become a more vibrant city for people living, visiting, and working in the City.
Ayala Land, Inc. ‘s Innovation and Design Group which was behind almost all of the developments in Makati, in cooperation with the Strategic Landbank Management Group and the Urban Regional Planning Department launched Rev It! Makati which is an offshoot of Ayala Land’s Make It! Makati campaign. In the front cover of the book, one sees “fresh perspectives of city life”. It aims to re-invent, re-imagine, and re-think at the utmost possible way to conceive of a better Makati. Rather than simply hiring consultants and experts, Ayala Land, Inc. ‘s Innovation and Design Group put forth its young architects, people who experience Makati in their day to day lives, to view the city from a different perspective to challenge the status quo. In 2013, they held an internal competition in which the young architects immersed themselves through the lenses of sustainability, civic and culture, liveability, mobility, tourism, and business. After all that has been done, the Innovation and Design Group created and called it Rev It! Makati (for revitalize Makati) in which every project was consolidated into the book.
Behind the concept of the book, it is not just about showcasing the potentials of Makati but rather who were responsible for these ideas. The pleasant thing about tapping the minds of the millennials is that every idea that they come up, it’s something fresh, creative, and ideal. It is somehow what every city in the country needs - an unshackled vision with good intention. In a pedagogical sense, it is not just what the young contributes, but what the experienced can learn and evolve with to contribute to the future guidance of critical decisions. As architecture is essentially built in relationships, this exchange of ideas in turn provides a sense of clarity of culture to bequeath to the future generations.
Though the projects featured in the book were not actual projects, Ar. Joel Luna, head of Innovation and Design Group, hoped that some of the ideas could be inspired to be an actual development. “What we hope is that some of the ideas presented there would trigger thinking that could lead to actual projects in the future”, said Ar. Luna. However, it is worth noting that every project featured was embedded in actual developments of Ayala Land, Inc. - pedestrian mobility, provision of civic space, and a focus on sustainability.
Throughout the development of the whole book, the experiments and results exceeded far from Ayala Land, Inc.’s expectations. “While we were aware of the depth of creativity within the young minds in Innovation and Design Group what we didn’t expect was the level of effort that everyone contributed to formulate their ideas, to come up with a really fabulous exhibit and eventually publish the book”, said Ar. Luna. In the end, the whole experience proved to be most valuable is the harnessing of young minds to churn out new ideas for a complex subject such as revitalizing Makati.
AYALA’S CUTTING EDGE
The Innovation and Design Group is the in-house planning and design team of Ayala Land. It traces its roots to the Technical Planning Staff which was a unit under the Planning Group that was formed since the beginning of Ayala Land, Inc. in the late 1980s. It was a very lean unit that was essentially engaged in the master planning of large estates under Ayala Land, Inc. It helped the planning of Ayala’s major land acquisitions, among which was the Canlubang Estate (now Nuvali).
As the company ventured into other product lines such as office buildings, condominiums, and affordable housing, Technical Planning Staff likewise created and expanded its in-house design management support for each one, being the bridge between the business needs of our proponents and the design aspirations of our consultants and customers. In 2007, Technical Planning Staff went through a transformation and rebranded to Innovation and Design Group. It was then organized into distinct design studios, each one headed by a senior architect and each studio providing dedicated support to each of Ayala Land Inc.’s business units. Thus, IDG has a studio for hotels and resorts, a different studio for shopping centers, and a different studio for each of our residential brands. While people would expect that they compose of middle-aged members, more than half of the group are architects in their 20’s, some just fresh out of college. “They form the backbone of the IDG”, said Ar. Luna of the young architects. “While it’s the senior leadership in IDG that provides the guidance and expertise in the planning and design of projects, it’s our batch of young architects who move them forward and who are at the forefront of each project that we launch”, he added.
Presently, Innovation and Design Group has been the cutting edge of Ayala Land, Inc.’s development efforts. From value malls to economic housing, it tackled new product prototyping. “It has raised our practice beyond planning, architecture and design management and pushed us into the realm of product design”, said Ar. Luna.
When asked about its role in one of the country’s biggest and oldest conglomerates, they undoubtedly answered that Innovation and Design Group was responsible for delivering the designs that made Ayala Land Inc.’s projects possible. While Ayala Land Inc. is the largest and most trusted developer in the Philippines, it also speaks of the scale and magnitude of work and level of responsibility entail on their group as designers. But overall, it's helping create a lasting communities that are more important for them. Architect Luna added, "in the end, our purpose is in delivering what Ayala Land stands for - to enhance land and enrich the lives of more people."