S. Villanueva Building (International House) now on restoration
The icon of Iloilo’s heritage buildings has now taken its turn for restoration work. The third restoration project and by far the largest in size and in magnitude, the Villanueva Building Restoration is now poised to become the poster work for the conservation efforts in the old Iloilo Business District. The art-deco design building had been featured in several travel and in-flight magazines, and commonly represents the city of Iloilo. Beautiful yet neglected in several generations, the Villanueva Building is now receiving the attention it rightfully deserves.
Here are some of the project features:
As with the previous restorations at Calle Real, the Villanueva Building effort is undertaken by AC Sangrador & Associates. The project is sponsored by Iloilo Cultural Heritage Foundation, Inc. with its president, Manuel E. Villar Jr., and with the cooperation of Iloilo City Cultural Heritage Conservation Council and the building owner, Mr. Mario Jalandoni. The project was approved by Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog.
The Villanueva Building
Built during the height of the Commonwealth Era, the Villanueva Building also known as the International House incorporates Art Deco design which was commonly used at that time. Simple yet elegant, the building sits on one of Calle Real’s busiest intersections.
After years of neglect, the building suffered degradation. With three floors of commercial space, the building is now home to several establishments, from eye wear shops, hardware, and bazaar (tiangge). Numerous street vendors occupy the pavement and sidewalks around the building, making the scene cluttered. These pose challenges to the restoration work, as the project entails strict compliance to Conservation Planning and Development Guidelines for the Downtown Central Business District (CBD) Heritage Zone. Some of these include regulation of signage and possible relocation of street vendors to kiosks that complement the streetscape and architecture of the district.
Hope for Calle Real
With development projects such as the pedestrianization of Calle Real, the revitalization of the Central Market, and restoration projects, the old business district is now gradually regaining its former glory. Once the shopping capital of the country, probably in Southeast Asia, the Calle Real saw the prosperity of the sugar trade fund the construction of several beautiful art deco buildings, most of which still stood today, albeit in sad state of disrepair.
Today, the Iloilo Cultural Heritage Foundation, Inc. is working closely with the city government of Iloilo in addressing these two difficult issues confronting the revitalization and restoration projects at Calle Real:
- Bundle or reduce the number of those unsightly cables festooning from building to building, marring Calle Real’s skyline.
- Pass a city ordinance requiring all commercial establishments on Calle Real to revise their signage to conform to specifications to be defined by the Iloilo Heritage & Conservation Council. The objective is to achieve the “heritage street” ambiance & look.
Today, with strong political will and conservation mindset of the citizens of Iloilo City and its leaders, there is hope for Calle Real. It is now envisioned as a main business district that can rival those in other countries, hopefully like those of Singapore’s Orchard Road or Tokyo’s Ginza Street in the future (but with historic touch).
So kudos to my fellow kasimanwas and our city leaders who are spearheading these projects! All the best for Calle Real!Tags: Calle Real, Heritage Buildings, Iloilo City, Metro Iloilo - Guimaras