We visited New Clark City’s Aquatic Center 94 days before turnover—here’s how it looked

The developers, architects, and contractors say the 2000-capacity facility for the upcoming Southeast Asian Games in November is coming along swimmingly

  • July 11, 2019

  • Written by Judith Torres and Denny Mata

  • Photographed by Ed Simon of Studio 100

Like the Athletic Stadium that Budji+Royal Architecture+Design designed, the Aquatic Center needed to be constructed within a tight timeline and budget. 94 days before the design and construction teams’ turnover date of 31 August 2019, BluPrint visited the site inside the New Clark City.

Budji+Royal wanted an iconic Aquatic Center that would bring verve to New Clark City’s sports complex; something people would easily recognize. On the day of our visit last May 29th, we instinctively lifted up our heads, gazed at the soaring structure, and took in the stunning geometry of its roof. It’s a beguiling spectacle from the makeshift entrance gate of the construction site, but it’s awe-inspiring inside and under its tessellated steel roof.

bluprint architecture new clark city aquatic center
The 12,796 square-meter Aquatic Center stands in a 21,936 square meter plot of land. Parking for 26 cars and ten buses are on the lower ground floor. Vacant lots will serve as temporary parking for the Southeast Asian Games in November to December 2019.
bluprint architecture new clark city aquatic center
Royal Pineda, the principal architect of Budji+Royal, says the inspiration for the Aquatic Center’s form came from the baklad, a local fish corral or fish trap, while the geometry recalls Filipino weaving and woodwork.
bluprint architecture new clark city aquatic center
The steel beams painted the color of lightwood form diamonds and triangles, about 80% will be covered while the rest will remain transparent.
Budji+Royal’s team and BluPrint walk up the driveway to the Aquatic Center.
“The pattern and the illumination, the transparency and the framework are at a magnified scale of capiz windows and parol frames, especially from an aerial view,” says Pineda.
7500 workers and 500 engineers have been working 24/7 on Phase 1-A of New Clark City since January 2018.
bluprint architecture new clark city aquatic center
The only breaks in the 24/7 work schedule for the past 18 months have been All Souls’ Day, Christmas, New Year, and the recent senatorial elections.
bluprint architecture new clark city aquatic center
At the time of our visit, the 8000-strong team working at the construction site had clocked almost 8 million manhours.
According to Patrick Nicholas David, president of MTD Philippines, the developer and contractor of this phase of New Clark City, not a single accident has occurred since work started.
bluprint architecture new clark city aquatic center
“We are very proud of our safety measures. We have had zero lost time incidents and zero lost time accidents,” said David.
bluprint architecture new clark city aquatic center
“We cannot afford an accident to happen. Accidents slow down work. We have contingencies upon contingencies,” David continued.
The 10-lane competition pool measures 50 x 25 meters and is 3 meters deep.
bluprint architecture new clark city aquatic center
The angle of the bleachers ensures every spectator can see every swimmer competing in the pool.
Judges will be seated along both sides of the longer lengths of the pool, while the press stays on one side, opposite the bleachers. The volume above the bleachers contains the presidential suite and other VIP areas.
The diving pool in between the competition and training pools measures 25 x 20 meters and 5 meters deep.
bluprint architecture new clark city aquatic center
Following the specs of the Olympic pools in London, the Philippine Aquatic Center swimming pools will be lined with hot-dip steel siding.
bluprint architecture new clark city aquatic center
Here, workers are lining the 8-lane, 2-meter-deep training pool with a PVC membrane.
bluprint architecture new clark city aquatic center
The Aquatic Center’s profile seen from afar appears to be an abstraction of the bahay kubo or the Filipino vernacular house.

For the full story and exclusive photos on the Aquatic Center, read BluPrint’s Volume 2, 2019.

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