Ocean Center

How can we build climate resiliency into tropical architecture?

Baler, Philippines
Design Development

What should coastal architecture be in the age of climate change? The Ocean Center project anticipates dramatic sea-level rises and—rather than merely protecting against them—incorporates them as central design elements. The site and structures of the mixed-use community hub are designed to regulate the flow of floodwaters in a controlled and calculable way.

Markets, shops, an oceanographic museum, apartments, a convention center and playfields are arrayed on a series of steps that rise away from Baler Bay, with open-air elements like the market occupying lower elevations and the museum, convention center, and apartments safely perched on higher bluffs.


The design of Ocean Center emerges from the surrounding geography. Conceived as an archipelago, the center arrays several centers of activity each with multiple orientations and a dense network of interconnections to the surrounding areas, lending the complex the feeling of a micro-village. Boundaries between each of these program areas are blurred, resulting in a web of program areas that are each complete onto themselves and interwoven with surroundings.


A group of apartment blocks are set on the hills of a botanical garden, elevated above the floodplain. The two-story apartments are arrayed end-to-end on a rising linear plan and interlocked with one another, offering each an ocean vista. Each has a skylight and floor-to-ceiling glazing, maximizing natural light and views while maintaining privacy.

  • SIZE: 246,085 SQF
  • PROJECT TEAM: Carlos Arnaiz, Jun Deng, Alden Ching, Patricia Tan, Sehyun Lee