SM reinvents ‘Building on Stilts’ as a Climate Resilient Design for the Future
Floods and rising water levels brought about by typhoons are perennial problems in Marikina city, which is considered as one of the low-lying areas of Metro Manila. During typhoons, Marikina River’s water can rise up to 23 meters compared to its normal average level of 13 meters. While this causes the communities surrounding the Marikina Watershed to be underwater, SM Marikina stands tall, serving as a safe haven to its neighboring communities.
The secret? It is sitting on 246 stilts.
SM City Marikina is uniquely designed. The 6-hectare mall property which is located within the Marikina River Watershed is an elevated mall built on top of 246 stilts.
“A critical part of building climate resilient structures is to understand weather patterns and how it affects the environment where your city or building will be,” explained Architect Fides Garcia-Hsu, Vice President of SM Engineering Design and Development (SM EDD). “During the design phase of SM City Marikina, we considered the long-term flood cycles of the Marikina Watershed, which was identified to be a high-risk area by the World Bank in 1977.”
Building on stilts traces back to ancient civilization from different parts of the world. The answer lies in its powerful functionality. Elevated construction had been the way earliest people groups would protect themselves from flooding, moisture and surface organisms. It also gives them provision for open space storage or cultural activities. Lastly, it reduces cost in modifying natural terrain. While building on stilts have been adopted by modern architects through the years, people had lost interest in it during the rise of urbanization.
SM revisited the functionality of ‘building on stilts’ and reinvented the concept as a climate resilient feature. This design was complemented with other disaster preparedness considerations to help reduce the risk of damages during extreme flooding. As such, SM City Marikina was built an additional 20 meters farther than the suggested 90-meter distance from the Marikina River centerline. Moreover, the ground floor parking was purposely laid out as an open-design, without walls to allow water to flow, while the second floor was elevated at 20.5 meters, which is higher than the maximum recorded flood levels.