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Empowering Payatas, Community Architecture on Sanitary landfill areas.


There are four main types of slums found in Metro Manila; these are the communities in coastal, those located beside the highways, those who are beside the river and those who are beside the dumpsite or landfill. The main livelihoods in these areas are scavenging and scrap dealing with an income of 150 PHP to 250 PHP daily.

Payatas is a community beside a landfill with almost 200,000 residents where urban blight caused by - shanties, lack of sense of direction, unsanitary roads and inefficient social infrastructure are experienced. 32.19% of the population does not have access to medicine and 12.8% of the population have experienced hunger at least once in every three months.  Government and Non-government agencies have also initiated strategies like housing programs to answer the problems, however these proposal only catered to few.

Despite the issues present, communities continue to come to the area. Every year, thirty percent (30%) of in-migrants from provinces particularly in Central Luzon come and start a living, and as of 2007 a total of eighty percent (80%) of the total population of Payatas are in-migrants. The phenomenon of recent migrations are not studied or regulated, the unexpected and unregulated waves of migration of people affect the performance and projection of programs proposed by the barangay unit. 

Problem analysis

Waste Stream in Payatas

Payatas is a controlled waste disposal facility, occupying 26.7 hectares of land in Quezon City. The dump started operations in the early 1970s. Today, the landfill accepts 15,000 Metric tons per day with 2000 registered waste pickers scavenging on the garbage mound.

The waste that arrives in the dumpsite is traced from the source which may be residential, commercial establishment, institutional buildings except hospitals and light industrial facilities. The waste is segregated from the source and will be collected by the garbage trucks contracted by the local government on specific schedules based on district and type of waste. Some garbage are collected by itinerant waste pickers who use pushcarts and buy recyclables at prices that vary with market conditions.  

When garbage trucks collect waste from the source, the truck crews do their own sorting of recyclable items. Before the truck reaches the dumpsite, the items segregated by the crew are dropped on several junk shops along the way. About a kilometer away from the garbage mound, is the monitoring and weighing station of the landfill, when the trucks are lined up on the entrance to be weighed, “jumpers” or young boys hired by junk shop owners, jump on the back of the trucks to get recyclables from truck crews.

 The wastes are transported in the Materials Recovery Facility which are subdivided into 6 stations. Registered waste pickers manually scrape the garbage and separate recyclablesto be brought to the Refuse derived fuel facility or to be delivered to the registered junkshops. Organic wastes on the other hand are brought in the composting facility. The remaining wastes are then comparted in the landfill by bulldozers.

 Junk shops act as middlemen to the market both for recyclable materials and information about market and product condition. They have the most advantageous part on the disposal facility because they could handle prices, information and demand for materials. Junk shop owners usually seek to get their materials close to the source, to maximize volume, quality and homogeneity. Scavengers view the existence of junk shops as a disadvantage because the junkshops monopolizes the resource recovery business.

Waste pickers usually fall last in the waste stream and they get the leftovers of the process. Based on the waste stream process, those who are involved at the last stages of the system experience higher risks but also given the lowest value or importance. The existing waste stream also shows that the landfill is not the most strategic resource recovery since the stream has already been screened and the most valuable items were extracted prior to arriving in the landfill.


Value chain is a series of related activities that sum up within the production of goods and services that allows value addition on the product. It is used to identify and coordinate activities directed to offer high quality products and socially useful services. When M.E. Porter created the model in 1985, he implicated that the application of the analysis is in the process of creating public services. This is due to the ability to present a clear structure and meaning of services offered along the network of linkages creating them.

The traditional value Chain is a linear system with upstream suppliers providing parts for products, and the downstream components are providing product distribution and sales. A Linear Value Chain analysis was used in analyzing informal economies (Waste Picking) in Brazil. The aim of the study was to look into the existing waste management to formalize the waste picking economy as part of the chain.

The existing chain in Brazil is almost the same with the waste system in Payatas Quezon City where scavengers are at the end of the system. They believe that by making the scavengers a formal economy, their status and part on the waste stream will be alleviated, efforts were done by organizing waste pickers and creating policies that will improve their status in the waste stream. Although the efforts were successful, it does not completely answer the problem on the waste stream system, unless the system is improved or changed, the existence of the “middlemen” on the system would still make create imbalance on the stream.

Using the linear Value chain may not be as effective in solving the waste system in Payatas, the components in the present waste stream involves complex connections between various parts of the cycle, governing bodies and stakeholders that a simple linear chain would not be able to address the demands of each module. Creating a closed loop value chain would be effective in improving the waste system as it distributes demands and value on all the sections of the chain, it also removes monopoly of goods, information and services.

Achieving a closed loop value chain is done by making it sustainable. Sustainability in the value chain is done by studying each component’s system and creating a link between these nodes that would make a series of closed loops. In doing so, establishing the close loops would create connections, demands and needs between the nodes that would make no single element at the end. These close loops are called supply chain as it now creates and manages demands between each element of the value chain.

The established closed loop value chain will be applied on the community planning for the proposed industrial community. Each element would be translated into either as a zone, amenity, building material, façade design and social infrastructures.

Masterplan based on the sustainable value chain

Residential area

Ecology Park

Community Center

sample Industrial building
Industrial area
Thesis Project in De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde Architecture Program in 2014
Author: Maxine Panlilio

This post first appeared on StreetLife Manila, please read the originial post: here

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Empowering Payatas, Community Architecture on Sanitary landfill areas.


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