What used to be a dirty, flooded, and often sketchy underpass is now a clean, art-filled, and modernized walkway.
The rehabilitated underpass, which connects Manila City Hall and the historic Walled City of Intramuros, has several new design features.
Arch. Antonio Toledo, along with Arch. Juanito Malaga, UST graduates John Fallorina, Sean Ortiz and Leon Tuazon, in collaboration with the Department of Engineering and Public Works (DEPW), have taken cues from the Spanish era and fused it with modern-contemporary elements, as seen in photos of the redesigned underpass’ official inauguration today.
Vertical gardens and signages written in both English and Baybayin greet passersby by the underpass entrances.
Its walls have wooden accents and LED as lights which frequent passersby of the underpass would find unrecognizable from pre-renovation, tiled and painted in white.
A mural with historical themes and inspired by the works of National Artist Carlos “Botong” Francisco, done in collaboration with the National Center for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), also occupies a large part of the wall in the underground walkway.
Later, a bas relief artwork, also done with NCCA, will be installed, as well as smart technology features such as interactive walls containing motion sensors and a touch screen, which features useful information to passersby such as tourist spots, restaurants, and commuter guides.
A famous thrift bookstore, Books from Underground, will also return as the only establishment allowed to operate at the underpass.
Apart from the new look, security concerns have been taken into consideration, too. CCTV cameras are now installed and the underpass will be lit 24/7 to deter criminal activity. A security office will also be in place to man the underpass and amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, enforce health protocols such as physical distancing, and wearing of face masks and face shields.
The Lagusnilad underpass rehab is only one of the many makeovers happening in public spaces in the country’s capital. The walkway’s makeover is specifically part of the Lawton development masterplan, which eyes the revamping of areas from Arroceros to the underpass.