October 7, 2004 (STAR) Harbour View Square: Fusion of arts and culture + excellent food.

The Cultural Center of the Phils. (CCP) has long been the bastion of the Philippine Art scene, so it comes as no surprise that its master plan for development of CCP grounds involves the implicit inclusion of the arts even in commercial development.

Such is the case with the Harbour View Square, a 1.5-hectare commercial development project that would be host to the best of Manila’s local and international cuisine restaurants, and of course, feature the cultural and artistic talents of the CCP.

This unique synergy of artistic, cultural and culinary enchantment would be a first of its kind in Manila and promises to be an instant hit for art aficionados, dining enthusiasts, and the ordinary Juan dela Cruz on the prowl for an entertaining night out.

The concept

Real estate developer Meedson Properties Corp. managed to convince the CCP management that Harbour View Square’s fusion of arts and culture with an excellent dining experience would not only promote Filipino arts and culture to the general public, but would also serve as a venue for both neophyte and professional artists to reach an even larger audience.

Located right across the CCP main building beside the Philippine Navy and Manila Yacht Club in picturesque Manila Bay, the commercial complex adhered to CCP’s basic condition that arts and culture should be inherent to development in its commercial area.

Meedson acquiesced to this condition by insisting that the complex be designed with an open area in the center of the project that could easily accommodate an entire philharmonic orchestra and a sizeable audience. They also designed the surrounding structures with large balconies complete with an expansive view of the stage.

Part of the open area would also house paintings and artworks for displaying Filipino masterpieces and budding artists.

This means that diners in the restaurants, bars and grills would have ringside seats to a plethora or entertainment ranging from ballet, classical music, live bands, and even sneak previews of CCP’s theater shows.

Manila’s version of San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf

The project is very similar in concept to San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf where good food and entertainment beside the bay attract around 12 million visitors a year. Although the Harbour View Square Project isn’t as expansive as the San Francisco version, it would however be populated with a mix of the best of Manila’s food and entertainment places.

Coupled with Manila Mayor Lito Atienza’s Baywalk project, the entire bay area has the potential to become the next major tourist destination for domestic and foreign tourists as well.

Strangely enough, Fisherman’s Wharf has a tour of the Alcatraz as part of its appeal, while the CCP project is right beside the embarkation point for the island of Corregidor.

Make no mistake, however, because the Harbour View Square is not an imitation of the San Francisco tourist spot. It just so happens that it has all the right elements for the making of a great center for entertainment – the sea, the arts, the food, the attractions, and the accessibility not to mention world-class shops.

The Manila night life has never been so alive as it is right now, with the cobblestone streets and cafes of the Citywalk in Libis, the cosmopolitan restaurants of Glorietta and the bohemian street parties of Malate constantly drawing hordes of merrymakers nightly.

Now imagine te-leporting these places beside the sea.

The same ambience, with the added ocean breeze and fabulous sunset backdrop, is what architect RMJM Phils. hopes to achieve.

RMJM is the local office of London- and Edinburgh-based RMJM, which has undertaken several high-class projects in the country such as architectural work on the Forbes Tower in Makati, the Serendra residential and commercial areas and the Market! Market! Project in Fort Bonifacio.

Owing to being located beside the ocean, the strictest environmental considerations were employed.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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