Being an architect might make it seem as though building your own place would be a breeze.
You’re supposed to know all the right sources and builders, and all the tools at our disposal would make it quite a simple exercise in execution. If you listen to Elon Musk, we should be trying to figure out how to build on the moon pretty soon.
However, trying to fit out your own home is quite a daunting task. “Simple” decisions entail agonizing amounts of time and I find myself sketching for hours on end figuring out what to do with my toy display cabinet alone. It is an extremely humbling experience to find out how far away we are from the flying cars of the Jetsons or even just figuring out how Alexa should work seamlessly. Yet finding the right home, being able to decide where you want to live, and having access to all our modern entrapments are a luxury that most Filipinos do not have.
You wake up at 6 a.m., drowsy from a long night and get yourself ready for work. You line up for the currently non-existent bus or jeep and realize you have to call a ride or walk yourself to the nearest rail station. Regardless of whichever mode you choose, it takes you a painful hour and a half to get to work. The day goes by quickly, not much else to plan for the evening except to grab a meal on your way home to get a good rest. About two hours after you get off from work, you’re home and just about too tired for anything else. The weekend should be fun and something to look forward to, except you can’t really go anywhere and you’re now stuck inside a home that is basically just a room of four walls and a toilet.
Typical housing in our city does not seem to provide the most exciting of possibilities. Especially now, when this pandemic has us spending so much of our time in our own homes, we need to reconsider how much consideration we put in planning how our homes should be.
A space for people, not cars
Most housing units in our city are about 40 sqm or less. They’re built in towers of up to 800 to 1,200 units and located in residential districts oftentimes too far from jobs and offices. A typical parking slot takes up about 35 to 40 sqm–the size of a studio apartment, if not even bigger sometimes. We need to revisit parking requirements and determine that they not only push up residential prices but also increase traffic density in our cities.
More parking spaces encourage car ownership which justify more distant residences that require car ownership in turn. If we could somehow reallocate these parking areas for the units instead, we would be increasing each studio unit by about 6 sqm or 15 to 20 percent. These can be spaces for balconies and verandas or a small work desk that our current spaces do not have. Twenty percent of your home–that’s what our parking requirements cost every studio unit resident.