Forum Architects completes the new Singapore Chancery in Manila
The Singapore Chancery in Manila, Philippines is a fine example of a contemporary tropical architecture which encapsulates the qualities of efficiency and precision.
Despite not having a long history or deep rooted traditions, Singaporeans have traits that are often identifiable. Recognised for its no nonsense attitude, Singapore’s penchant for efficiency and its regard for precision and thoroughness is renowned the world over.
Hence, it is not inappropriate that the architecture of a Singapore Chancery building is well mannered, efficient and precise and set in the context of a garden repose.
Set back from the site boundaries for security reasons, the building is never less than 25m away from the boundary wall. The architect has taken clever advantage of this deep verge by creating a building that relates in myriad ways to this large stretch of outdoors. Large overhangs and deep portals anchor the interplay of volumes to create large covered outdoor spaces which relate to pools of water, decks and landscape. A deep porte cochere signals the entrance whilst providing ample shelter from rain and sun during major events.
An internal courtyard allows the protected rooms to have safe views out into the open. It also allows openings to rooms without the need for bullet proof glass.
Whilst the Chancery is in reality a heavily fortified building, the use of layering as a protective strategy allows the external of the building to take on light elements to create a friendly and welcoming building. Slender structural members, precise details and control of building edges together convey a sense of craft in the building. The entire building sits on a platform lifted off the ground to create sensation of lightness although it is essentially a ‘heavy and solid’ building.
A Chancery is also about the host country. In this respect, the skylight glass as well as the glass cladding at the entrance of the building are fritted with a graphicised pattern akin to the texture found in the Filipino traditional pineapple fibre fabric called ‘pina’.
Singapore is gaining stature and influence in the international community. It is also putting its imprint in many countries, either through its private enterprises or through Government initiatives such as the Chancery in Philippines, and the architects perceive that it is vitally important to pay serious attention to what is built on others’ soil, for those buildings also speak of Singapore. In this regard, the Chancery is one of the first outstanding Singaporean buildings built overseas in recent years, and deserves to be recognised as such.