Nov-Dec 2017


by Harry Joseph F. Serrano

The promise of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to usher the country into a development boom has come. Ominously called BUILD BUILD BUILD, it is a battle cry powered by angst and exasperation born from decades-long infrastructure backlog suffered by the Filipinos.

The government presents a three-point financing strategy to pay for this venture. First is to have a planned deficit increase from 2 to 3 per cent during the Duterte administration. Second is to get 80 per cent local funding while the remaining 20 per cent can be sourced from external lenders. Third is the most critical because it is designed to promote competitiveness that fuels growth. The government will implement the Comprehensive Tax Reform
Package (CTRP), making it more efficient and in turn attractive for investors.

According to Philippines’ Department of Budget and Management Secretary Benjamin Diokno, the country will spend an unprecedented USD18.8 billion for infrastructure in 2017. In the past three decades, the country has never reached the 5 per cent to GDP threshold for infrastructure spending. This year, it passed the 5.3 per cent mark. Prior to this, the Marcos government allocated an average of 3.2 per cent (Philippine Institute of Development Studies, 2017). Infrastructure spending will reach as high as 7.4 per cent to GDP by 2022.


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Previously Published Commentary (Abstracts)

Jul-Aug 2017
Mar-Apr 2017
Mar-Apr 2017
Jan-Feb 2017
Dr Kishnani examines the challenge of teaching sustainability in the classroom, summarising the pedagogy of the urban studio of the Master of Science, Integrated Sustainable Design programme at the School of Design and Environment, NUS. This is described as a set of aspirations and a framework for a studio assignment.
Sep-Oct 2016
Whether opting to go local, natural or modular, material selection can be less about materialism and more about the planet and the people who inhabit it. 
Jul-Aug 2016
While many aspects of Singapore’s development have been described internationally in glowing terms, the island’s public spaces have often faced a cooler response. 
Mar-Apr 2016
To meet the needs of a rapidly growing urban population, a number of new infrastructure projects will need to be delivered around the world, particularly in developing countries where these trends are at their most extreme. 
Mar-Apr 2016
The need for smarter cities is especially pressing in Asia, which is home to over half of the world’s urban population, and together with Africa, will account for 90 percent of the world’s urban population growth by 2050, according to United Nations’ figures. 
Nov-Dec 2015
The Third International Tatlin’s Tower was designed in 1919 by Russian architect Vladimir Tatlin—a tremendous structure that was meant to serve as a political propaganda hub for the city, state and the world beyond. 

Sep-Oct 2015
Singapore is not often thought of as a competitive market for solar panels. Its thicket of high-rise office and apartment buildings means only a small patch of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels can be set atop each one to generate electricity—that may be a financially inefficient proposition for an individual building owner.

Sep-Oct 2015
RETHINKING COMFORT: A PATHWAY TO LOW-ENERGY BUILDINGS by Wolfgang Kessling, Martin Engelhardt and Ina Maia
Buildings today require massive energy inputs. The way we define comfort plays a significant role in this, specifically the design of systems needed to cool indoor spaces. But is this necessary? Is the narrow bandwidth of conditions that air-conditioners deliver the only way to achieve thermal comfort?

May-Jun 2015
Whereas Green design aims to reduce environmental impact, and sustainable design aims to achieve intra- and intergenerational equity in access to resources and a healthy, natural environment, the aim of regenerative design is far higher. It aims to transform the way we create the built environment so that it contributes to the well-being, nourishment and regeneration of the world and all its communities.

Mar-Apr 2015
When you think of ecotourism, vivid images are conjured—treetop houses, natural waterfalls, untouched islands using only what nature provides to survive, and wildlife roaming around free where you are being accommodated. While ecotourism has not consistently got to that level yet, it is on its way, and is the fastest growing segment of tourism around the world.

Mar-Apr 2015
When you think of ecotourism, vivid images are conjured—treetop houses, natural waterfalls, untouched islands using only what nature provides to survive, and wildlife roaming around free where you are being accommodated. While ecotourism has not consistently got to that level yet, it is on its way, and is the fastest growing segment of tourism around the world.

Mar-Apr 2015
While catering to the various needs and comforts of their guests, hotels and resorts can also cater to the needs and comforts of the environment and communities they surround. The idea is that beyond the design of a building, the tourism industry could gain a long-term competitive advantage by taking a closer look at their daily operations and sustainable management plans.

Jan-Feb 2015
When restricted by the constraints of space, cost or materials, there is great challenge but also great opportunity to design homes that are not just functional but liveable. As cities continue to grow, affordability and availability of living spaces become increasingly problematic. Living small or compact may not only be a lifestyle choice but rather a necessity.

Jan-Feb 2015
India has traditions to keep, and traditions to let go. Ceiling fans, for example, which originated nearly 300 years ago as cloth-covered frames called punkah, are a tradition to keep. Clay bricks, on the other hand, which date back to the ancient civilisation of the Indus Valley, are a tradition to leave behind.

Sep-Oct 2014
From vertical gardens, sky gardens, underground walipinis to urban foresty, food production is becoming smarter, more ingenuitative and increasingly widespread.

Sep-Oct 2014
According to the online business dictionary, the definition of a smart city is a "developed urban area that creates sustainable economic development and high quality of life by excelling in key multiple areas—economy, mobility, environment, people, living and government."

Jul-Aug 2014
The shophouse is an urban vernacular of Singapore and Malaysia that has an almost 200-year history. Today shophouses are conserved and adapted as swanky restaurants and bars, chic retail spaces, upmarket residences, boutique hotels, and other exclusive commercial developments.

Jul-Aug 2014
Host cities in the past have struggled, and some have failed, to establish a meaningful function for the infrastructure after the Games. Notable failures were Moscow, Beijing, and probably the most prominent, Athens. Large investments were injected to create showpieces for the duration of the Games, but ended up as eyesores thereafter.

Mar-Apr 2014
Airport architecture has vastly evolved in the 20th century. From rural airstrips to megalith structures, from cultural showpieces to technological marvels, they have stunned, shocked and completely overtaken their predecessors.

Mar-Apr 2014
There is no doubt that timber is one of the most important and influential material components of the built and natural world. Ancient ships, buildings and tools have long been forged by the world’s forests with some relics still existing today, denoting timber’s value, versatility and durability.

Mar-Apr 2014
The issue of sustainable transportation in the 21st century is a focus of global environmental concern. As urban centres develop to meet the demands of expansion and growth, there is an ever-present conflict with allocation of space to meet various needs.

Nov-Dec 2013
With rapidly growing economies and a bustling population that has high expectations, urbanisation in most developing countries presents a conundrum to building and construction policy makers. 

Sep-Oct 2013
Climate change and sustainability have moved to the forefront of many governments’ developmental concerns, and across the Asia-Pacific governments have been increasingly active in launching new policies to drive Green building.

Mar-Apr 2013
The world’s population hit more than 7 billion people in 2011, and is expected to grow to about 9 billion by 2050. This will inevitably require an increase in demand for residential land and food.

Jan-Feb 2013
“If you have an iPhone with a light, maybe you can get a picture.”

4Q 2012

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