Green design firms
CITY SENSE - Paulo Alcazaren (The Philippine Star) - December 18, 2015 - 9:00am

Last week I reported on the National Convention organized by the Philippine Association of Landscape Architects (PALA). Landscape architectural design is now at the cutting- edge of any development project, be it vertical condominiums, mixed-use complexes or horizontal residential communities.

The convention was attended by individual members of PALA, as well as a dozen or so practitioners and firms in this specialty of design. These firms are offices that service the major developers like Ayala Land, Robinsons Land, Federal Land, SMDC, Ortigas Land, Taft Properties, Aboitiz Land, and Araneta Properties.

Many of these firms are headed by veteran landscape architects who have worked for the two pioneer practices in the field that started in the 1960s — Dolly Perez Landscape Architects and IP Santos and Associates. The 1980s saw a second wave of firms made up of former associates of the two. Twenty years after this, a third wave has emerged, with many who have gained experience working overseas.

All these landscape architects’ firms focus on the now fashionable “green” design. Landscape architects in the Philippines, in fact, have been green for over half a century; advocating sustainable design, sensitive land planning and even roof gardens and vertical greenery decades before it became de riguer.

Many building architects and architectural firms actually embraced this “green-ness,” green roofs, and sustainability aspects of design, as if it was discovered only a decade or so ago. In a sense this is true, since I remember that few clients were willing to spend the additional budget for green roofs (or roof gardens as we called them then) or full-on landscape design in any development here in the Philippines.

The fact is that landscape architects have been green since day one. That said, all contemporary projects are complex and need to be a collaborative endeavor of all disciplines and specialties in design to work.

That said, much has been achieved by firms and individual practitioners in landscape architecture; vis-à-vis acceptance in the real estate development and construction industry. We now have to expend less energy first explain that we are not just glorified gardeners, called in to tart up a project after most of the architectural and engineering has been finished.

To reiterate what I clarified last week, landscape architecture is part of the spectrum of the physical design and planning disciplines that deal with the creation of outdoor spaces and settings for human use, public and private life, activities and enjoyment. These settings and spaces are always in a context relating them to architecture and interior spaces on the one end, and the larger urban design, city and environmental planning on the other. It is a highly technical field and requiresfour to five years of university education, two years of apprenticeship and a license to practice.

I asked several firms and practitioners to send me samples of their work to feature in this column. The images in this column show just some of the wide contributions that Filipino landscape architects have made today.

The images shown are from the firms of ASEA Design Group, SGS Designs Landscape Architects, CREARIS Landscape Archtiects, PGAA Creative Design, Cecile Tence Landscape Architecture, Pracinos Inc., EALA, EPEA, HEDLA, BCL Asia Landscape, AJ Moldez Planning and Design, Cecile Tence, and Pracinos Inc. All these firms are headed by members of PALA and manned by licensed landscape architects.

Typical of the innovative scope of landscape architectural design is SGS’s layout for the Santierra, Nuvali rain gardens in Sta Rosa, Laguna. Their design looks at options to stormwater management that relies on green systems and not hard, expensive and non-sustainable concrete.  The main idea was to retain the natural waterways of the 60-hectare site before the development to address drainage requirements. The design also aims to maintain and provide natural habitat for the existing wildlife in the area.  A similar project also shown here is for the Ayala Land project Abrio and designed by landscape architects of EPEA.

These and similar ecological planning techniques are being employed by Filipino landscape architects and firms today. It is good that there are clients now appreciative of the technical expertise and creative flair of local designers.

Other clients, however, are unaware of Filipino talent, and resort to hiring foreign landscape architects, who are often retained and practice illegally. These foreigners, because they are not regulated here, have no accountability for their designs. Flying these consultants thousands of miles for projects in the Philippines also enlarges the carbon footprint of the project itself.

Filipino landscape architecture is growing fast as a design profession. For truly green spaces, plazas, parks, gardens, courtyards, resort grounds, campuses, recreational, resort and institutional projects, it is best to hire professionals design consultants. Hire local, because Filipino talent is global in outlook, creative, and designers have technical competency and passion. Green is the color of Filipino landscape architects’ blood.

* * *

Feedback is welcome. Contact the writer at

* * *

For more information on PALA and its members and firms contact the Philippine Association of Landscape Architects thru Sharon Silverio-Azuela  at, for ASEA Design Group –, for Prasinos, Inc., for SGS Landscape Architecture –log on to, , for PGAA Creative Design- contact LA Jerome Abad, for CREARIS contact LA Michael Espiritu at, for BCL Asia  Landscape Architects contact Vincent Lim, for EPEA contact LA Mary Anne Espina, for EALA contact LA Efren Aurelio, For AJ Moldez contact, For HEDLA Landscape Architects contact LA Horacio Dimanlig and For Cecilia Tence Landscape Archtiects, contact

  • Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?
Login is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with