Acclaimed architect Paul Tange on the problem faced in his industry, and a tour of his recent project in the Philippines

Published October 6, 2021, 7:00 AM

by Jules Vivas

There is great uncertainty even in architecture              

A NEW LEGEND IS BORN Paul Tange, chairman and principal architect of Tange Associates

“The pandemic has changed our environment, the way we work, and live. It negated everything. Our lifestyle altered,” stressed the chairman of Tange Associates Paul Noritaka Tange, in our têteàtête a couple of hours before his educational design forum last month. One might say that we are at the mercy of COVID-19, but Paul along with other Filipino architects has set out to find design solutions catered to address the challenges of the times.

First, more on Paul. Some know him as the son of architecture legend Kenzo Tange, one of the most significant architects of the 20th century famous for designing the Yoyogi National Gymnasium for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, and for winning the 1987 Pritzker Prize. But Paul is beyond his lineage. A Harvard graduate, he is the head of the world-renowned architectural firm Tange Associates. As if a family tradition, Paul too has designed a Tokyo Olympic venue, particularly the Tokyo Aquatics Center for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. That is just one of the many landmark buildings he and his multi-awarded company have worked on—around 400 projects in 35 countries.

“Our [Tange Associates] architecture is not about making buildings, but creating spaces for people to gather. We create gathering places. And since we cannot gather because of the pandemic, we have to reinvent the way we design,” says Paul. “I do not have an answer [to designing a COVID-proof facility], but that’s why we have forums like this. We need to have discussions.”

EVERY LINE IS MEANINGFUL Tokyo Aquatics Centre (VCG Photo)

Speaking for all professional architects, Paul voices a refreshing admission of uncertainty. “We do not know what to design anymore,” he says. “Do we still need an office or a hotel? COVID has taken them away from us,” he says. “Residentials are changing in terms of functionality. It is now the school, the workspace, and of course, the family space.” In this sense, Paul points out the importance of thinking outside the box.

His architectural philosophy shines through now than ever. “Architecture has to appeal to the human heart. We are creating space to make people happy and comfortable,” explains Paul. To him, among the most important things architects should consider is to understand the needs of the client, as well as to be less egoistic, taking into consideration the surroundings and the people’s needs.

All of these are applied in his latest project with Federal Land Inc., The Grand Midori Ortigas (TGMO). The first foray of the institutions in the heart of the Ortigas Central Business District is this two-tower condominium that has over 900 housing units. To give a local perspective to the development, GF & Partners Architects took the role of Architect-of-Record.

“Every line has to have meaning. We created the large-scale development and façade more humane. We incorporated the weave to create a Japanese feeling,” Paul elaborates.

The whole experience comes immediately as you approach the building. Guests are greeted with vertical and green elements. As its name Midori (green) suggests, the structure is Zen-themed. It is a sanctuary lush with greenery in the middle of the city. Prominent are the weave patterns, an aesthetic present in both Japanese and Filipino cultures and an expression of delicate beauty interpreted as part of the establishment’s façade.

‘Our [Tange Associates] architecture is not about making buildings, but creating spaces for people to gather. We create gathering places. And since we cannot gather because of the pandemic, we have to reinvent the way we design.’

Inside is the entrance area with a shoji screen, and the existence of one column in burgundy lacquer finish, which not only exists to support the building but also to serve as a centerpiece.

The interiors and landscape are inspired by the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi and miyabi focused on the discovery of beauty in imperfections and the expression of refinement and elegance. In the style of traditional Japanese houses, the rooms are not separated by stone walls but rather by shoji screens, from the multipurpose hall to the gym, from the children’s area to the pool.

“Engaged in one concept, going through the building is like a journey. The architect is a storyteller. The inhabitants are guided by these architectural elements and, before you know it, you end up in your own apartment. Approaching the building, going through the rooms, is a smooth ride back home,” Paul beams.

Built upon a 5,090-square-meter prime property, each room has ample space for residents to create a relaxing, safe space. The condominium offers several room types from the studio (35.5 to 38sqm), one-bedroom (46 to 64sqm), two-bedrooms (70 to 107 sqm), and three-bedrooms (105 to 109sqm), all of which are designed with airy and light-filled interiors as well as expansive windows.

“We had to think about the weather and how the sun moved. We wanted created a sunshade device utilized in the different facades. All the louvres and vertical fins prevent the sun from coming too strong in the rooms,” says Paul.

ARCHITECTS UNITE Federal Land recently hosted a virtual design forum with the theme ‘Japanese Architecture: The Synergy of Culture and Design.’ The forum was led by (center) Paul Tange, chairman and principal architect of the multi-awarded Tokyo-based Japanese architectural firm, Tange Associates, together with (from left) forum moderator Ginggay Joven Dela Merced, GF & Partners Architects managing partner Annette Gaddi – Liganor, Buensalido + Architects principal architect and chief design ambassador Jason Buensalido, DEQA Design Collaborative principal architect Denise de Castro, and Federal Land president and COO Tom Mirasol 

Other prime indoor amenities are the lounge area, fitness area, yoga room, game room, study lounge, conference room, children’s playroom, and a multipurpose room. Outdoor amenities include a lap pool, Jacuzzi, children’s pool, pool lounge, children’s play area, Zen garden, and a landscaped area with lounge.

Situated at the true mid-point of Metro Manila, TGMO can be found along Exchange Road in Ortigas Center and benefits from the nearby infrastructure developments such as Metro Manila Subway System and Ortigas Greenway Project. It is also near the new BGC-Ortigas Center Link’s Kalayaan Bridge, the main artery that connects Pasig to BGC, which cuts down the travel time between business districts. | [email protected]