Ariel Xiao He Bi


Catalyzing Renewal: Reimagining Public Spaces for Manila’s Slum Communities

Advised by Belinda Tato

This project explores the potential for a network of small public spaces to catalyze social and environmental impact in slum communities within Manila, which is the capital of the Philippines. It explores the potential to transform the limited amount of open spaces in those settlements including rooftops, walls, narrow corridors, and the small enclosed spaces between houses as a way to provide opportunities for social and environmental engagement for the community. The project also explores how the transformation of open space can potentially expand people’s sense of identity, foster a sense of empowerment , and cultivate a renewed hope for a better future.  

Ariel Xiao He Bi, MLA I. A collage illustration of solar panels, vegetation, flowers, and children illustrating an “urban acupuncture 
Ariel Xiao He Bi, MLA I. As part of conducting research for this project, I lived in a slum community in Manila for a month. Experiencing life in the community and becoming friends with my neighbors gave me profound insights on how people there actually live on a day-to-day basis. What is shown here is a snapshot of a photo journal capturing my experiences.
Ariel Xiao He Bi, MLA I.
A type of type of artificial tree-like structure in small open spaces can help purify rainwater. These funnel-like structures direct water to a centralized storage tank and later on through underground pipes to public water stations for the community to collect. The water can then be used for purposes such as washing household items, watering plants, and flushing the toilet. These trees can also serve as an artificial canopy since shade is scarce as well as provide light to the open space as well as nearby households.
Ariel Xiao He Bi, MLA I.
Derelict walls can be transformed into green walls that can not only purify air but function as vertical farms. Those walls can connect to the roof to form a continuous farming and nursery structure that can supply a substantial amount of fruits, herbs, and vegetables for the community.
Ariel Xiao He Bi, MLA I.
Through the use of bamboo, which as a simple unit can create many different spatial possibilities, rooftops can be transformed into extensive public spaces in places where ground-level open space is scarce. Here in this scenario the rooftop can be transformed into a greenhouse which functions as a meeting and playing space that offers climatic comfort through providing shade and cooling the temperature. 
Ariel Xiao He Bi, MLA I.
The network of design interventions and their impacts growing over time, starting from the space itself and eventually reaching into all corners of the community over the years. These spaces would not only grow physically but that through their growth, the communities would be able to yield substantial social benefits over time.