May 19, 2024

Palafox Associates, the winning bidder of the Dominican Hill Heritage Site conservation plan, conducted a stakeholder consultation meeting at Ridgewood Hotel on April 11.

The stakeholders were asked of their insights and vision about the Dominican Hill Heritage Site for the preparation of a detailed engineering study and conservation management plan.

Participants to the event were from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, academe, government, barangay officials of Dominican-Mirador, and other agencies.

Palafox Associates first laid out its plans for the heritage site and provided five workshops to gather the opinions of the stakeholders in the management of the site.

The first activity was a SWOC (strengths, weakness, opportunities, challenges) analysis. Stakeholders perceive the site’s cultural and historical value as Unesco’s heritage site, spiritual ambiance, 360-degree view of the city, and environmental appeal as its strength. They find the site a potential creative hub and an event venue for local, national, and international creatives which could provide opportunities for local businessmen.

Concerns of the stakeholders were its structural integrity due to its weathered state, soil conditions which may cause landslides and sinkholes, accessibility due to narrow road networks, safety and security due to vandalism, and the possibility that it may too “tourist-centered” which might not be enjoyed by the locals.

Challenges raised were tourist influx which could affect waste management, air quality, noise pollution, and traffic problems, its potential for mass casualty, commercialization, buildings encroaching the area and political instability due to conflicting interests of stakeholders.

Palafox’s task is to preserve the building’s appeal while ensuring its historical value is not diminished.

The second workshop was a visioning workshop. The stakeholders were asked to think words that would best describe their vision for the heritage site. A word cloud was created to show the most common answers submitted. Among the submissions were the words sustainable, creative, and culture which calls for sustainable tourism that preserves culture and embraces creativity.

The third workshop gathered the community’s aspirations on what they want to preserve, change, and create for the heritage site.

Majority of the stakeholders prefer to preserve the original architectural and interior design to maintain its heritage value.

They also would like to preserve its natural topography and the 360-degree view as one of its main features.

Among the things that they want to add were creative spaces like museums for exhibits, greeneries for vibrancy, smart systems for security, and road-widening or other means of transportation for accessibility.

Changes that they want to be made were obstructions that obscure the beautiful view, gentrification, and too much commercialization of the area.

The fourth workshop enabled the stakeholders to create a conceptual site plan for activities and programs that would best fit the location. They were provided with maps to draw on and label with the set of activities that they envision for the place.

For the last workshop, the stakeholders were asked to rate three interior design characters in terms of functionality, costing, implementation, cultural preservation, and relevance.

Majority of the stakeholders voted for industrial style with biophilic design at the second, and sustainable minimalist as the last. One group suggested a more Cordilleran-themed design to make it more on-brand.

Biophilic design in architecture is an approach that connects building occupants more closely to nature through natural lighting and ventilation, and natural landscapes.

Palafox Associates promised to fulfill as much of the stakeholders’ suggestions and presented the next steps for the project. Among their projected activities were on-site safety inspections, soil test, foundation probing, concrete and steel test, cultural mapping, building and landscape assessing report, and architectural and landscape conservation plan. – Jenfrey Y. Benafin