(SPOT.ph) Visitors who approach Pasig City Hall from Caruncho Avenue will notice its imposing facade from the other end of the road. At eight-stories tall, it stands high above the fray of the nearby palengke and transport terminals. The result is that the building, which is reminiscent of ancient Greek architecture, looks sternly bureaucratic. Once inside, the orderliness underscores the initial sense of rigidity. But that only lasts a few seconds. The clean design brings a brightness to the interiors, which is also reflected in the people inhabiting it.
In addition to the attractiveness of the space, there is a friendliness among the staff that is so pervasive, it almost seems scripted. Architect Jeff Isidro, who has been renovating many of Pasig City’s public institutions for the better part of a decade, says this small-town vibe is entirely authentic. While he credits Mayor Bobby Eusebio’s effective leadership for the boost in employee morale, he notes that environment plays a big role as well. “When you transform the space [people work in], you transform the people,” he says.
Still, the redesign of Pasig City Hall doesn’t just benefit the employees. Going for a playful, relaxing, and tasteful atmosphere, Isidro wanted to create a stress-free setting for people to access the government. Seven years ago, he began by updating the main areas. One big change was installing clear glass panes between the workers and public. This helped enact the administration’s desire for transparency.
But some of the most surprising developments have just been completed. Having expanded the original City Hall, the administration decided to allocate inviting, functional spaces for the public to enjoy. In January 2018, the museum, library, theater, and VIP lounge that Isidro designed, were opened to Pasig taxpayers.
The eighth-floor museum curated by Carlo Martinez is small but comprehensive. In this vibrant space, kids and adults alike can learn more about the past and future of Pasig City through film, photographs, and interactive areas. There are also scale models showcasing the upcoming public developments around the city. From a fully equipped sports arena in Rosario, to a sleek, satellite City Hall close to Ortigas Center—these miniature reproductions share a clear, exciting vision of what’s to come.
Across the hall from the museum is the public library. Open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., adults are free to use the computers, workstations, and reading materials. With lots of room and natural light, the area is furnished with cool wooden shelves, glass tables, and brightly colored stools. It looks less like a stuffy old library, and more like a hip coffee shop—without the noise or distractions. It’s perfect for people who need a makeshift office or a peaceful getaway for a few hours.
One floor down, there are two fully equipped theaters that seat 50 people each. This area can be used for movie screenings, lectures, and other events that require audio-visual technology. Staying true to Pasig’s mission to be a “Green City,” the fresh-looking fold-down seats have been upcycled—a strategy Isidro uses to stay on budget and be eco-friendly while still creating something new. But what’s especially impressive about the theaters is that the wall dividing them can be removed, turning the room into a 100-seater amphitheater. Moreover, this multipurpose space is accessible to the public. Just be sure to book it in advance.
Nearby is the VIP Lounge, which Isidro calls the “crown jewel” of the renovations. Without breaking the bank, Isidro designed a chic space for socializing, working, or relaxing with a cup of coffee. “Of course the budget was limited. But how you mix and source things is where the magic lies,” he says. For now, it is open only to the top 2,000 taxpayers in the city.
Like the library, the lounge is clean and peaceful with a playful touch. Sunlight coming through the floor-to-ceiling windows, brightens the wood grain details throughout the room. The pea-green chairs add a punch of color, while the houndstooth seats elevate the room’s style. Additionally, there is a functional element to the pieces. For instance, the tables are equipped with outlets, for hassle-free gadget use. Here too, Isidro repurposed furniture. Instead of throwing out old barstools, he came up with the idea of lofting the computer tables in order to accommodate the high seats.
While he is proud that his work is now part of Pasig City’s history, Isidro anticipates that some will see this upgrade as unnecessary expenditure. To that, he says something that reveals why he put so much effort and attention into each detail of this marathon project: “It’s not a luxury to treat the public with importance.”
For more information, visit the Pasig City Hall website.