Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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The Urban Vernacular: A low-cost incremental housing development in the Philippines

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posted on 2022-07-25, 10:02 authored by Manlalo, Erika

This study investigates adaptable housing design as a solution to informal settlements’ issues, including the threat of rapid urbanisation and displacement due to eviction, flooding, and an array of man-made destruction. This study aims to identify design processes and solutions that support and prioritise the housing and community needs of lower-income demographics so they may live safe and healthy lives empowered by adaptable design and construction processes that put them in control of the development and progress of their living environments. This exploration will be grounded in the informal settlements of Baseco, Manila in the Philippines, one of the most densely populated in the country, where urban regeneration has been prominent over the past few years. This study will use a mix of quantitative and qualitative design research methods. This research will use quantitative data in the earlier phases of data collection to build an accurate context as a basis for exploration and understanding. Ethnographic studies will inform design phases through secondary sources supported by simulations and models. This investigation aims to contribute to the discussion of urban regeneration and solving informal housing issues in-situ to keep existing social networks intact rather than relocation. This process will begin through an adaptable building design inspired by the incrementalism of informal construction, argued as a form of urban vernacular. This paper indicates that low-income communities are reactive rather than proactive in responding to vulnerabilities. The design solution aims to be a catalyst in fostering a more proactive approach to risk-mitigation strategies and empowering communities through safer living conditions that prevent displacement that destroy networks of social connection.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Architecture (Professional)

ANZSRC Socio-Economic Outcome code

120699 Environmentally sustainable construction activities not elsewhere classified; 120505 Residential construction processes; 190103 Social impacts of climate change and variability; 190404 Hydrological hazards (e.g. avalanches and floods); 120306 Timber materials; 120406 Urban planning; 129901 Adaptation to climate change in construction

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

4 Experimental research

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

Wellington School of Architecture


de Sylva, Shenuka