Sariling Pabahay sa Riles (SAPARI) is a public housing development built in 1996 during the Ramos presidency. It ran along side the Philippine National Railroad (PNR) tracks from Paco Station to Vito Cruz Station, hence the name. Composed of 35 housing buildings, the project aimed to provide houses to 5,000 families and solve the problem of squatting along PNR.
21 years on, most of the buildings are nearing disrepair, brought about by property management neglect and informal settling, which ironically, it tried to solve. SAPARI now sits in between the busiest highways and the oldest railroad tracks in the country–absorbing the soot of 8,600 vehicles per hour, 100 decibels of industrial noise, unsafe sidewalks, and lack of basic utility access.
While a great majority the underlying causes are non-architectural, Headroom tackled these in two ways—one is to provide spaces for the immediate and inherent needs of a thriving residential community, the other is to let those spaces create opportunities for the community to solve the socio-political problems whenever they arise.
From their experience in residential developments, Headroom found a defining factor in successful housing projects – shared spaces. “We felt that for a 2 billion-peso project, the developers would at least allot a decent portion for the community spaces,” says Alessandro Trinidad, partner and business development head at Headroom. “Well-designed public spaces can turn housing projects into a livable ‘community’.”