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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.
During super typhoons,
SM Marikina’s resiliency saves an average of Php1 billion in terms of losses
from business sales alone. This means that it is able to help its tenants,
especially the micro, small and medium enterprises that depend on the mall for their
business continuity and growth.
For its neighboring
communities, SM Marikina also serves as a safe haven and a first responder to
families who are affected during calamities. It also provides free parking
spaces for those who are stranded and need a safe place to wait for flood water
“Our ultimate goal is
to help build the resilience of our stakeholders. This begins by building our
own resilience to serve as a good foundation they could rely on especially
during calamities,” Garcia-Hsu said.
Beyond the city of
Marikina, building on stilts may be experiencing a revival in other parts of
the world as urbanization begin to rise along with a greater demand for greener
spaces. This would allow for high rise developments while keeping ground levels
reserved for much needed green open spaces.
While it took SM an
additional 15% in its capital investments to make SM City Marikina a disaster
resilient mall, the group sees it as an essential investment in its commitment
to create shared value for its stakeholders. This, complemented with a
science-based approach on climate scenario risk analysis, allows SM City
Marikina to defy odds and prove that integrating resiliency is the way to a
climate resilient future.