Soon a new iconic skyscraper will redefine the skyline of Bonifacio Global City, the financial district of Manila, Philippines. Dubbed the Icone Tower by its designers, Henning Larsen Architects Hong Kong, it was the winning proposal in the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) Iconic Building International Conceptual Design Competition.
“We aimed to make it a truly Filipino building by understanding and integrating elements of Filipino nature, culture and climate,” says Claude Bøjer Godefroy, partner and design director at Henning Larsen Architects Hong Kong.

What makes an icon?
First the architects defined an icon as something that captures people’s imagination, is instantly recognisable and that will become a symbol of the nation it represents. Finally, it needs to become eternal.

“Designing an icon is not just about creating a beautiful form,” says Godefroy. “For me, the right form depends entirely on how we respond to the context – the site, the local culture, the climate and the people.”

The Icone Tower by Henning Larsen Architects Hong Kong was the winning proposal in the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) Iconic Building International Conceptual Design Competition. Courtesy of Henning Larsen Architects Hong Kong.

The building form
Building on these guidelines, the architects proposed a 308m tall elliptic cone – a shape that frees up the ground floor and ensures urban ventilation, which helps to cool and clean the air. It also ensures minimal obstruction of the views and daylight from the surrounding buildings.

The cone is further the optimum form to resist earthquakes and typhoons, which are often experienced in the Philippines. With arches distributing loads making up the exoskeleton around the transparent tower, the facade becomes one of the most expressive parts of the design, intensifying the celestial effect of the skyscraper.

The public programme is positioned at the base and top of the tower, where offices would not be efficient. The base will act as a new meeting place in the city that flows out to a large plaza lined with tall trees, recreating the shade and ambience of a Filipino forest and filtering views to the surrounding buildings.

The middle part will house the headquarters of the BCDA with comfortable daylight, generous social spaces, access to green terraces and atriums.

A spectacular observatory at the top of the tower, called “The Light of Manila”, is destined to become a vantage point open to the public. At night, a large lens will project a beacon of light over the city and the bay, acting as a lighthouse.

“The Icone Tower sets an example for how tall buildings should give back to the city and to its people. It also represents an effort to discover what contemporary Filipino architecture is about, and we hope it can inspire other local builders to join this search for identity and character,” Godefroy adds.

Large trees will line the plaza at the building base, recreating the shade and ambience of a Filipino forest and filtering views to the surrounding buildings. Pictures courtesy of Henning Larsen Architects Hong Kong

Full thanks and acknowledgement are given to Henning Larsen Architects Hong Kong for the information and images provided.

Project facts
Gross floor area: 45 000m².
Client: The Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA).
Architect: Henning Larsen Hong Kong.
Structural engineer: BuroHappold Engineering.
Landscape Architect: SLA.

Caption Main Image: During the day, the tower will shine by its transparency.
Courtesy of Henning Larsen Architects Hong Kong