When I was working with the United Nations and was stationed abroad between 1990 and 2003, I regularly came home for Christmas and New Year, other holidays or long week-ends. During those visits, I noticed that buildings were indiscriminately being added to our park, being located simply wherever there was some open space. There was no logic, no rhyme or reason to their placement. Here I was advising Asian countries on how to better plan their cities, while the centerpiece of my own neighborhood was being indiscriminately developed. I felt really bad about it.
During one of those visits, I bumped into my good friend and fellow-pioneer in Valle Verde 5, Jolan Lumawig, who I learned was the President of our Homeowners Association then. I discovered that he similarly felt bad about how the park was being filled up by buidings without any coherent direction. He asked me if I could prepare a master plan for the park to guide future construction. I of course readily said yes. But I warned him I wanted to correct what I consider to be major mistakes in the way the park had developed over the years. I was specifically referring to the placement of the covered basketball court, the convenience store, and the original social hall. I felt these buildings were badly situated and wasting valuable space.
I believed that our park should have as much open space as possible to provide the children as well as adults with a place for both passive and active recreation without having to travel outside the village. Aside from quantity, I was equally concerned with the quality of the open space, which meant that it had to be strategically located and used as efficiently as possible. This meant producing a master plan that made the most efficient use of the park’s total land area through the retention of essential structures which are already in their “right” places, such as the chapel and tennis court, relocating some buildings, and allocating areas for new buildings and activities.
But just like in designing a house, Jolan and I felt that it was necessary to consult with the park’s prospective users — the residents of the village. Thus a survey was conducted to determine the kinds of activities that the residents would like to be provided for in the park. Consequently, the results of the survey defined the elements that were incorporated in the master plan. Additionally, the survey results also defined the phasing of these elements’ implementation. The rest is history.
To an architect, one of the most gratifying source of fulfillment is seeing his or her design become reality. But what is even more satisfying, I believe, is seeing that the users of the product of his or her design are enjoying and benefiting from the use of that product. All this would not have been possible without the support of the previous and current Board of Directors and Officers of the 5th Valle Verde Homeowners Association. To all of them, I say “Thank you very much for the privilege of being of service.”
Nathaniel “Dinky” von Einsiedel, PhD
Architect / Urban Planner