The Philippines is aiming to build a city of the future

Key Points
  • The Philippines wants to build its own version of the city of the future
  • Called New Clark City, the urban project is planned to be smart, sustainable and resilient to disasters.
A look at the Philippines' New Clark City

The Philippines, home to Manila's standstill traffic jams, is aiming to become known for the "city of the future.'

Called New Clark City, the urban project is planned to be a high-tech green city promising science-fiction-worthy technology, from robots to drones to self-driving vehicles. It's located 120 kilometers outside the Philippine capital, and its investors hope it will be the first of its kind in the country: smart, sustainable and resilient to disasters.

Of course, many countries are aiming to build their own version of the city of the future, and the Philippines still has a long way to go in its economic development, so the project's financial future is not a certainty.

According to its lead developers, the project is mainly funded through public-private partnerships — a move necessary for the cash-strapped country.

A depiction of the plans for New Clark City in the Philippines.
Courtesy Surbana Jurong

The development could one day take some pressure off congested capital Manila, according to Singapore-based urban planning firm Surbana Jurong, one of the partners in the project.

The smart city aims to tap on up-and-coming technologies that would tackle issues arising from the increasing population density in the Southeast Asian country. "Driverless cars probably would be introduced into there, and therefore requirements for car parking will be lessened," Surbana Jurong CEO Heang Fine Wong told CNBC's "Street Signs."

The new urban space would become a "twin city" to Manila, he said. "You'll gradually see Manila becoming a different type of city, maybe more financial to support the New Clark City, and in New Clark City you'll see new technology companies coming through," he explained.

Attracting customers who would be willing to relocate to New Clark City from the country's capital will likely be a challenge. The Philippine government recently announced it is committed to moving some offices to New Clark City, but the main goal plan is for foreign investors to set up operations there, according to Wong.

Construction in New Clark City in the Philippines.
Courtesy Surbana Jurong

New infrastructure projects, meanwhile, could bridge the distance between Manila and New Clark City, Wong said. A brand new railway line is being built by the Japan Overseas Infrastructure Investment Corporation for Transport & Urban Development. The train would reduce the travel time between the two cities to one hour from the current two to three hours.

The first phase of the project is slated to finish by 2022, but Wong said that the goal is to keep developing as technologies advance.

But technical hurdles would still need to be resolved said Wong. "All these things need to be planned. You need that network of communication. And also a cyber security network needs to be put in place," he said.