A mall built right: SM City Marikina

Despite the vast and commanding presence nowadays of SM malls around the metropolis, the country and beyond as well, these malls are not exactly what one would call as compelling as far as form, aesthetics, and overall design is concerned. Save for some notable exceptions, SM malls are generally derided as “dull box structures” of concrete and, in recent years, glass, and steel which do not strive to become standout landmarks. I suppose the mentality employed here is, “Hey! It’s and SM mall! What more fancy design does it need? We can build a plain-looking building and put an SM tag on it and people will still go.” You get the picture.

But as I said, there are exceptions. One of them is the subject of this post today: the SM City Marikina. Actually, SM City Marikina is not ranked as among the “top-tier” SM malls as the Mall of Asia and Megamall. Indeed, the SM mall in Marikina does not offer as much retail choices as the latter two that I mentioned. What makes this mall stand out though is its unique design that takes into consideration the topography and conditions of the area where it’s located.



For one, it is one of the few malls that stands on stilts, concrete stilts to be specific. More interesting also is the fact that the main entrance of the mall is located not on the ground or upper ground level but on the building’s third level itself while the lower levels are primarily for parking space. The reason for this is topographical nature. It is located right in the valley of Marikina, and right beside the Marikina River which can be a violent force of nature during heavy rains and floods that cause the river to overflow and cause floods along the way.



SM City Marikina was designed in a way for it be able to deal well with the conditions of the area, making it adapt well to the environment rather than the mistake of making the environment adapt to the structure, sometimes by force, which has greater negative implications. Thus when the floods brought by Typhoon Ondoy in 2009 and the southwest monsoon activity in 2012 happened, the one part of the structure that took the damage were the lower levels with the retail space on the upper floors remain untouched.


Even for rabid haters of malls, SM City Marikina somehow deserves a bit of respect. It may not be as grand as the others, but it’s at least built to be attuned to its environment. It is a lesson that should not be lost among developers, architects, and businesses in the midst of our planet’s changing environment.

acknowledgements as well to Wikipedia and

© The Urban Roamer

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