The new Silverlens is bigger and brighter, literally

With app-controlled lights!


( At a time when galleries and regular exhibits were still in their early stages in the Philippine art scene, Silverlens was pioneering the warehouse art gallery movement in Manila. It was established in 2004 as a small studio showcasing photographic works, then as a stand-alone gallery housed in a converted piano factory along Chino Roces Extension in Makati City in 2006. This year, it moves to its third home in what used to be the commissary of Pancake House on the same street.





The new space features a two-level building with offices, a spacious main gallery, a number of exhibition spaces, viewing rooms, a storage area, and even a pantry. The entire 1,200-square meter area is raised since the Pancake House chillers used to be underneath the floor. “Anna [Sy of SC Architecture] had to design around what was already there,” Rachel Rillo, co-founder of Silverlens, explained to the press during a preview.


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Since the new building is not along the street but behind a low-rise office space, it was a challenge to “underscore a sense of arrival and discovery.” Sy’s solution was to make it look like the gallery is floating by using corrugated plastic, the kind often used for skylights. “The gallery’s façade is distinct and definable, composed of an extensive span of translucent window panels, 20 meters in length,” she pointed out. It does not only provide UV protection and thermal insulation, but also projects silhouettes of the people inside the gallery to the outside.



Translación exhibit at the main gallery



Light fixtures are mobile app-controlled


"[But] the lighting is really the star of the show," Isa Lorenzo, co-founder of Silverlens, shared with a giggle. And it is. The 150-square meter main gallery is illuminated by LED lights custom-made for Silverlens by Anthropology Lighting. It can be adjusted from warm afternoon light, to striking daylight, and to cool light. Each variation can be adjusted further to control brightness. All these, through a mobile phone app. They can even make a chess board out of the fixture, with some of the squares lit up and the others turned off. "Our artists were here yesterday and everyone was just playing with the lights," Lorenzo revealed. We can totally understand.



Translación exhibit at the small gallery






Gregory Halili’s Echo exhibit in one of the viewing rooms


There’s a smaller 65-square meter gallery that’s perfect for more intimate exhibitions and paintings that require spotlights. Another area serves as a viewing room where clients can check out artworks that they can acquire for their collections. It also doubles as an additional exhibition space.


“The Condo”


On the mezzanine is a room that they call “The Condo” (because it looks like a condominium unit). Furnished with sofas and chairs, it’s a place where anyone can sound off their art ideas, browse through the art books on the shelves, or just chill out.




Rachel Rillo (left) and Isa Lorenzo (right), Silverlens Gallery's Directors


"We want it to feel like it's not just a gallery but a place where you can hang out, want to come back to over and over again," Lorenzo said. With that laid-back space (and really cool lights), who wouldn’t want to come back?


The new Silverlens is at 2263 Don Chino Roces Avenue Extension, Makati City (right across GlaxoSmithKline). Inaugural exhibitions Translación (curated by Gary-Ross Pastrana) and Gregory Halili's Echo run from January 7 to February 4. For more information, visit the Silverlens website.

Photos by Vincent Coscolluela


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