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For many decades, communities in Mindanao, Philippines under the Moro Islamic Liberation Front have been gripped by conflict. After years of failed peace talks they have finally come to an agreement with the government to receive funding for housing and infrastructure to establish a self-sustaining community. This project brings together one such community at Korakora and a team of spatial designers and planners, to co-create a vision for a thriving neighbourhood, where families of former combatants and people affected by the conflict can settle with access to resources and livelihood.

As a process, co-design provides a means for gaining consensus amidst the ongoing complex peace process, by bringing together key actors that drive development including local leaders i.e., commanders of the Base Camps, clan heads, politicians, communities of interest including women, ex-combatants, farmers and indigenous people. Collaborating with the community is a way of understanding the socio-economic necessities, so that urban designers, planners and community members can co-develop a useful spatial plan for sustainable development which is sensitive and responsive to current and emerging issues.

Co-designing the design brief

Strategic masterplan sketch developed in collaboration with local stakeholders and communities

The purpose of the collaborative workshops was two-fold: firstly, enabling the design team to develop a deeper understanding of the site, its assets, issues and local skills; and secondly, undertaking training sessions with the community on principles of spatial planning so they can work in partnership with planners and urban designers to realise their vision. This transfer of knowledge and expertise in a two-way direction between locals and professionals was key to developing innovative and place-specific approaches for achieving the SDGs aligned with the vision of the community.

Project service

Co-designing a masterplan


Mindanao, Philippines


Project Team

Banuwa Ecodesign, Regina Lim, Avar Almukhtar



2019 - ongoing



Korakora community

The project focused on co-creating a design vision for the transformation of a post-conflict military camp - Camp Bilal, Korakora - into a thriving neighbourhood.

The very first step of transforming camps into neighbourhoods through design was to devise a framework for co-creation. The framework consisted of 3 phases. Phase 1 focused on capacity building strategies, enabling the community to Collaborate and Co-design the design brief and the spatial masterplan. This informed Phase 2, Learn & Organise, where community leaders were provided with training on how to engage with local authorities and other stakeholders to make their vision a reality. Together, these phases were stepping stones towards building up the leadership capacity for Phase 3, to Mobilise and Realise their plans, representing the interests of the community.


Developing innovative and place-specific approaches through community-led codesign.

The design workshops also enabled the community and its leaders to negotiate with local governments and institutions committed to supporting this development. They were conducted using plans, visuals as well as 3D terrain models to discuss relevant issues pertaining to a wide range of aspects including green infrastructure, the risk of landslides, access to water resources and local architectural building techniques for local facilities that needs to be delivered as priority projects e.g., the local community centre.

Co-developing the block structure, relationship between the public realm and private open spaces.

This project offers transferable lessons on how to give agency to local stakeholders and residents enabling them to be active participants and strategists for their own development. By building-in capacity to engage, communicate, negotiate and deliver, this community-led vision steers the transformation of a camp into a neighbourhood.

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