The world’s largest arena that rocks… but doesn’t
Inspired by the traditional Filipino Nipa Hut and the indigenous Narra tree, the Philippine Arena symbolises the endurance, strength and indomitable spirit of the people.
The region is fraught with fierce high-winds, torrential rains, and earthquakes of deadly magnitude. Such is life on the Pacific “Ring of Fire.” The 243m Philippine Arena is the largest indoor entertainment venue in the world, designed to shelter up to 55,000 spectators and 5,000 performers against the elements.
Buro Happold’s challenge was to design a venue to withstand some of the most harrowing forces of nature in the world. Earthquakes – some as powerful as 8.2Mw on the Richter scale – frequently rock The Philippines. Such seismic activity ignites volcanoes and summons tsunamis. Gale-force winds from tropical typhoons tear across the landscape.
Seasonal monsoons cause extreme flooding. In ‘quiet moments’ the climate can be extremely hot and humid. We needed to design an entertainment venue that not only provided an enduring haven against these environmental extremes, but also created an indoor energy-efficient climate to ensure the comfort of thousands of spectators.
The power of earthquakes in the region means that during a tremor the equivalent lateral loads generated can be up to 40% of the mass of the building. Our innovative and bespoke response was to design a foundation and base that is independent from the rest of the arena structure, isolating the building at ground-level to reduce acceleration of forces. The structure and the base are joined by lead bearings, allowing the base to move with the violent quake tremors while the structure remains stable. This incredible piece of engineering has ensured the Philippine Arena is amongst the top five most earthquake resistant structures in the world.
The arena’s immense 170m span domed roof is heavily insulated, reducing heat gain in the arena below and the amount of cooling plant required. To maximise space within the arena, we located this plant in a separate energy centre where, given the unreliable grid supply of the region, we included provision for 100% on-site energy generation. We combatted the problem of run-off rainwater during a typhoon through clever surrounding landscaping, which includes water features that provide attenuation as necessary to minimise impact on local drainage systems.
Our building services team was tasked with providing fresh air and a comfortable environment for a huge number of people in a hot and humid climate. To achieve this, we supplied tempered fresh air to the seating area that was then extracted directly to the outside via fans on the upper level. Our engineers used CAD models to coordinate their positioning to further enhance performance without compromising on valuable interior space.
The Philippine Arena stands in testimony of our ability to create enduring, record-breaking buildings in the face of some of the most dangerous and extreme environments in the world.