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A tale of mixed-use communities

Connected communities, where the residences, offices and commercial centers are in one lot, more known as mixed-use developments, have created a buzz in the local property sector.

But the concept of an integrated community is not entirely new and has actually been around for as long as mankind, wrote Dr. Laura B. Alvarez, lecturer in Architectural Techonology, in The Conversation website.

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Medieval times

The Romans, for example, built large multi-use complexes. In medieval times, people manufacture, sell and live in the same building, Alvarez said.

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Medieval villages also functioned as a productive community protected by walls. These walls not only secured the villages but also ensured that all property uses were within reach. Also, medieval villages had characteristics that define many of today’s mixed-use developments —compact, dense and limited transportation systems.

This prototype can likewise be seen in the walled city of Intramuros, which means “within the walls” in Latin. Built in 1859, Intramuros became the center of political and ecclesiastical power of Spain. Found within its walls were the Palacio del Gobernador, the official residence of the Spanish governor-general; Manila Cathedra; and the Ayuntamiento, which housed the Manila City Hall.

The concept of living close to the workplace died with the birth of the industrial revolution in the 18th century in Britain. Industry and trade had to be separated from houses then because the large-scale industrial automation required special access and ample spaces to accommodate large and noisy machinery and production systems, according to Alvarez.

Land zoning

Cities around the world, Alvarez wrote, had to segregate the land uses by either locating different functions in separate buildings or through the regulatory land zoning.

According to an article by the World Resources Institute, the proliferation of zoning contributed to sprawling cities and residential neighborhoods sprouting on the peripheries. People also had to spend on transport just to get to their everyday destination, such as offices and schools.

Eventually, shopping malls were replaced by commercial streets, while the urban poor were segregated from the wealthy elite.

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Environmental planner Ragene Palma had said in an Inquirer article that “the mistakes of suburbia and sprawl in the last century, which mismanaged land and the resources used to create a built-up environment, have led to the principles of integrated systems and mixed-use spaces in the cities.”

In Republic Act No. 6541, or the National Building Code of the Philippines (enacted in August 1972), the term “mixed occupancy or use” refers to a building used for more than one purpose.

Today, the term “mixed use” can refer to a vertical mixed-use design wherein a single multi-storey building has a retail or offices in the street level, residential apartments on the upper levels, and a basement for parking. It can also be used to refer to horizontal mixed-use development, wherein several buildings within a city block or area, or around an open space or courtyard serve one or two uses while creating a microcosm within a neighborhood.

Thus, mixed use in real estate today refers to the use of a building, set of buildings, or a neighborhood for more than one purpose. It refers to a development containing a mix of some or all of the multi-family residential, single-family residential, commercial, institutional, industrial and other uses, all conceived, planned and integrated to create vibrant, workable, livable and attractive neighborhoods.

Connectivity, sustainability

In the Philippines, local property developers have already incorporated connectivity, integration and sustainability in their mixed-use projects.

Malls built by the Ayala Group such as Market! Market! and Glorietta have transport terminals, while Trinoma is connected to the MRT 3’s North Avenue station. These malls are also within walking distance to condominiums, hotels and office spaces.

Examples of mixed-use estates are Ayala Land’s Nuvali in Laguna, which was the the overall winner of the Best Mixed-Use Developer for Luzon during Lamudi’s The Outlook event held in 2017; and the Bonifacio Global City, which has been transformed into a central business district from what used to be a military headquarters

Sources: Inquirer Archives, wri.org, theconversation.com, cityofbowie.org, officialgazette.gov.ph, ayalaland.com.ph

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