In a quiet residential area in Dao Street in Marikina Heights, a structure commands attention for its contemporary architectural design, its size, and its coat of vibrant colors. The name of the building is The Terraces at Dao, which is very telling of its shape and form—its curved canopies are layered in such a way that it appears to pay homage to the Eighth Wonder of the World. But we’d rather call it the Guggenheim of Marikina.
The owner of the 7,000-square meter property wanted to build something out of the ordinary, different from the structures we see in the Philippines. “He believes in the power of design,” says Jason Buensalido, principal architect and chief design ambassador of Buensalido + Architects, recalling his initial talks with the owner in 2010. “He believes in the power of architecture to inspire people, whether it’s in his organization or in the community. He wanted that kind of energy in his building.”
Considering his credentials, Buensalido was clearly the man for the job. In 2008, his firm won the Pinakamagandang Bahay sa Balat ng Lupa, a competition organized by the UP College of Architecture and Lafarge Cement Services (Philippines), Inc. This was how his client, who requested not to be named, discovered him.
The University of Santo Tomas graduate was told the building they will be constructing will house his lighting equipment company which rents out cameras, lights, generators, and other large-scale equipment to major TV networks and production outfits. It will have a warehouse, a car park, an office complex, and commercial stores on its façade. Essentially, the layout of the warehouse has to ensure the seamless, efficient flow of traffic when their trucks are loading and unloading the camera equipment.
“There’s a loop road inside, but what we did is we looped it in an elliptical way para continuous ang flow ng circulation. That loop became the design language of the architecture,” says Buensalido. This is also why viewed from the top, the shape of the building is curvilinear, he adds.
As it turns out, the sloping shape became an ode to the place. “When we discovered the site, it was actually sloping down. It wasn’t flat, and so the building sort of became an extension of the sloping character of the site,” Buensalido offers.
Buensalido and his client also intended the architecture to be adaptive to the country’s tropical climate, hence the idea of having canopies to prevent the heat of the sun from coming in. These also function as light shelves, reflecting the natural daylight into the building. There are also skylights on the top of the warehouse that allow light to trickle in. These are energy-saving strategies that were purposely took into consideration while designing the building.
The building has three levels, but the ground and second floors were both designed with a mezzanine, so it’s taller than an ordinary three-story property. Because it’s a warehouse, the interiors look very industrial, with concrete finishes, says Buensalido.
In keeping with the brand identity of the company, Buensalido’s team thought of using a gradient of energetic colors on the entire façade. Jason says they wanted this to signify the celebratory and optimistic culture of Filipinos. “No matter how big our problems are, we still know how to laugh,” he says, explaining the use of exuberant shades.
The loftier goal is to hope that the building becomes a strategy for urban regeneration. Buensalido hopes that The Terraces at Dao, which won the 2018 Metrobank Art and Design Excellence (MADE) Anthology Award for Commercial Category, to be a spark plug of development for the areas around it.
Currently, the building also houses a gym, a dental clinic, a computer shop, and a community canteen. The next phase of the development would be to build an office complex in the vacant lot of the property.
“We’re hoping that [The Terraces at Dao] could increase the value of the property around it, increase the traffic of people coming and going, thereby giving an opportunity to the people of the community to put up small businesses, restaurants, coffee shops and create a sense of community in the area. That was the hope for the building,” he says.
At this point in time, however, the building serves as a sight to behold for the residents of Marikina Heights during their daily walks or tricycle rides, a curious disruption from the serene landscape of gated homes in the area. And there’s already something lofty about that, if you ask us.