Manila, Philippines – BENCH Headquarters, a 24-storey office building for the Philippines’ leading clothing and lifestyle brand, has broken ground in Manila. The project brings new offices, state-of-the-art design studios and event spaces together under one roof, creating a permanent home for the company in the city’s vibrant business district. Foster + Partners is providing fully integrated design services for the project, including architecture and interior design, structural design, environmental and sustainable design and lighting services.
Luke Fox, Head of Studio, Foster + Partners, said: “We are delighted to see BENCH HQ breaking ground in Manila. The new building is tailor-made for the company and driven by their desire to create an interconnected, flexible workspace. It is designed for its location with passive design strategies and optimised solutions, aided by our in-house tools for reduced embodied and operational carbon."
The building’s massing responds to the site’s location, at the end of a prominent east-west axis in Bonifacio Global City. The side core arrangement opens up the ground floor of the building, creating a visual link to the new green space that is directly in front of it.
A generous ground floor atrium provides direct access to the offices and an event space which can accommodate large-scale fashion shows. Another four-storey atrium is located at the top of the building, providing filtered natural daylight to the studios and enhancing the company’s collaborative spirit.
Driven by Suyen Corporation’s vision to create a highly collaborative working environment, daylit lift lobbies and cores are placed laterally to produce generous and flexible office floors above. This sense of openness is reinforced through the use of lightweight, long-span precast elements which result in column-free spans of more than 15 metres. The precast elements have been carefully articulated to achieve airy, open-plan interiors with carefully integrated services.
Foster + Partners’ Environmental Engineering team have carefully calibrated the façade performance to allow enough light into the floorplate, while cutting out glare and reducing cooling loads. As part of the solution, an innovative awning system with deep overhangs on the east and west facades has been incorporated, to protect the building from the highest levels of solar exposure.
On the top four floors, workspaces are arranged around the atrium, which receives carefully filtered daylight from above. The interior design responds to the demands of the creative workplace and incorporates a refined palette of materials. Exposed concrete columns and precast concrete soffits are paired with a terrazzo floor with recycled stone aggregates. The rooftop is an accessible, green amenity space with spectacular views of the surrounding city. It is designed to host smaller events or team gatherings and explores urban farming ideas. It is shaded by an array of photovoltaic elements that generate more than 10 percent of the building’s total energy demand on site.
A highly flexible furniture system, designed by Foster + Partners’ Industrial Design team, can be adapted to meet the company’s changing requirements. There is also the option to add planters to the floor-to-ceiling system, allowing greenery to flow through the workspaces. The system can be used to break up the open-plan spaces and create a more intimate working environment.
As the site is located in a highly seismic area that is less than a kilometre from an active fault line, the structural team used state-of-the-art Performance-Based Seismic Design to create a solution that goes beyond standard code-defined structures. With the aim to minimise embodied carbon, the structural design of the building was carefully optimised to reduce weight and achieve a high degree of balance and symmetry.
The design team also built carbon calculators to track all the materials in the building and measure the carbon emissions they would produce. From the concrete used for pre-cast panels to the various components of the building’s cladding, every element was analysed and carefully selected. This allowed the team to make informed decisions about the design and actively mitigate the building’s carbon profile.
The building is targeting Green Mark Super Low Energy and LEED Platinum ratings.