THE provincial government of Camarines Sur (CamSur) officially launched last week its iconic P500-million Capitol Building, making it the first local government unit to construct a world-class and eco-friendly infrastructure that preserves culture and supports sustainable tourism, while creating a national symbol that will become a source of pride for the country and its people.
“When we first conceptualized this initiative, we wanted to do more than just construct the building that will house the many offices of the provincial government.
We wanted to build the structure that will tell the whole country that Camarines Sur is a province that is ahead of the curve when it comes to technological advancements, environmental protection and sustainability,” said Miguel Luis R. Villafuerte, governor of CamSur.
“We wanted to build an edifice that will reflect our commitment to sustainable development, our passion to be world-class and our desire to remain true to the roots of the province. A province filled with people looking toward the future, ambitious, but remaining true to our values and our culture,” he added.
Designed as a spiraling organization of pili-shaped husks that looks like a mountain or volcano from the horizon and appears like a flower from a top view, the Capitol Building, which will be located in the provincial capital of Pili, is envisioned to become an icon for the Philippines with its unique style and proper functionality features.
According to CamSur Second District Rep. Luis Raymund F. Villafuerte Jr., a building structure should be a work of art that will highlight the aspirations and accomplishments of the people.
“When someone mentions New York, London, Sydney or even Paris, you will immediately appreciate the city with it’s famous structures—Eiffel Tower, The Empire State Building, The Tower Bridge, [or] The Sydney Opera House. Even the Burj Al Arab—the sail-shaped building—arguably launched Dubai into the world stage. It has become an instantly recognizable symbol of the city,” he noted.
“This is what we want to achieve here. When people around the world sees the pili-, flower-shaped, volcanic-shaped Capitol Building, they will immediately say, ‘It is in CamSur. It is in the Philippines’. A landmark and symbol that will represent the ideas, values and beliefs of Bicolanos,” he added.
Veering away from the commonality of most public structures or offices nationwide due to budgetary constraint, the lawmaker boasted that they are coming up with a different and one-of-a-kind state edifice at a reasonable price.
“If you will ask the architect, the normal construction cost will be the same as constructing a normal building. Because we have a budget, so that was the parameter from the start,” he said of the estimated half-a-billion-peso appropriation for the project when pressed by reporters on the sidelines of the project launch. “We were just working on that budget allowed by law [or] allowed by the government. We will ask grants from the national government. But whatever happens, this will push through.”
With the engineering design scheduled to be accomplished in another six to nine months, the provincial government of CamSur is confident that the project is on track to be completed by the end of 2019 or the first half of 2020.
“We will ground break in nine to 12 months. Then it will be finished in 18 to 24 months,” Rep. Villafuerte said in mix of Filipino and English. “We’re already planning to really push this because this will really put our province in the [tourism] map. We want it to be the most Instagrammable area in the country.”
A pioneer in sustainable development, the upcoming CamSur Capitol Building will be a trailblazing infrastructure that will set new standards in its field.
“It shall become an example that others can emulate. It shall stand the test of time and shall be enjoyed by Filipinos for decades and even centuries, to come,” stressed Gov. Villafuerte.
A VISIONARY project it is, the Camsur Capitol Building will reflect on what is endemic to the province so as to propel it into a future of technological advancement, environmental sustainability and civic engagement.
New York-based design studio workshop and think tank Carlos Arnaiz Architects (Caza) is tapped to make this as a masterpiece that will elevate not only the province but the Philippines to the world’s architectural wonders.
“For us, when we started this project, we we’re really inspired by what can a building do for a government,” Chief Architect Carlos Arnaiz recalls. “It could be a symbol. But it also can be a kind of machine that can help make the government more efficient, it can help to make it more transparent, and it can be, in a way, a mirror of what the community wants to be.”
The building embodies a deep connection between the region’s natural landscape and its people.
Each pili-shaped volume is a metal sunscreen protecting the building’s interior from the intense tropical sunlight and creating a series of shaded roof terraces. The spiral organization of pili-shaped volumes produces a covered open-air atrium in the center of the building with a dramatic interior helicoid ramp terminating at the Mount Isarog viewing deck.
“This is, in a way, the environmental concept. Very simple one. Office places with big sheets of glass, protected from the sun and the heat by the metal screen canopy, allows a cooler environment, allows the building to be in a way less costly because air-conditioning is the most expensive thing really in buildings and the worst thing for environment. The less cooling we need to do in a building, the better the building will be for a green point of view. And then, it allows us to have a greenery in between the offices and the metal screens,” he explained.
Caza’s methodology involves a close examination of the whole building as an integrated system. This analytical approach ensures that the layout is efficient, flexible and well-suited to the lifestyle proposition of the project.
As part of the environmental design strategy, the architectural company employs a suite of the most ecological technologies to ensure long-term building sustainability. It is developing a material palette for both the interior and exterior skin that gives the building a distinctive identity. The final design of the façade system will balance the needs for light and ventilation with a striking visual impact when seen from the road.
The provincial capitol of CamSur will be divided into four levels. The first story is a covered parking, drop-off and service area with direct connections to the building via a system of vertical circulation cores. At the second floor is a multipurpose lobby plinth crowned by a shielded open-air atrium. Sitting at the third level is the administrative section outfitted with the latest innovations in workplace planning. The topmost story is the governor’s quarters and viewing deck, offering panoramic vistas of Mount Isarog.
Teeming with greeneries, the Capitol Building is nestled at the center of a new verdant public park, with palm promenades, pleasure fountains and a forest grove of native trees. A network of paths and roads gives entry points into the building for each user. What’s more, there will be a grand staircase for the public, a lobby plinth for secure grade-level staff parking and a series of smaller ramps leading out to the lush tropical gardens beyond.
“CamSur Capitol welcomes you to a new kind of building where the government performs at the highest levels of effectiveness and productivity while the public is invited to engage, with their surroundings,” Governor Villafuerte said.
“[It] is once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to show the world what CamSur can be through architecture,” he stressed.
More unique structures to come
IN line with the government’s massive infrastructure projects, the iconic CamSur Capitol Building kickstarts the provincial government’s other distinct local development initiatives in the pipeline, announced Rep. Villafuerte.
“This is only the start. We will continue to build structures that are unique in design and are works of art,” he revealed.
The upcoming projects include the expansion of the Naga Airport and the Philippine National Railway Modernization of Bicol Central Station—both will be in the town of Pili.
Other developments are the Bicol River bridge that will connect the town of Libmanan to Naga City and the CamSur West Coast Tourism Highway that will link the towns of Balatan, Pasacao and Ragay.
“We will also launch soon the master plan for the CamSur Smart Airport City. They’re it in Clark, but it doesn’t stop CamSur from being bigger, better [and more] innovative,” he added, while citing that the construction of some of the projects will begin next year.
Under President Duterte’s “Build, Build, Build” program, big-ticket infrastructure endeavors are now being undertaken nationwide. With an allocation of more than P8 trillion, this initiative is ongoing until 2022.
“I wholeheartedly agree to that concept, and I’m in the opinion that we, Bicolanos, do things a lot better and bigger. So, yes, Build, Build, Build. But in Camarines Sur, we will ‘Build Better, Build Bolder and Build Bigger’,” Governor Villafuerte said.
Image credits: Nonie Reyes