Disclamer: Because of confidentiality issues, this review will not delve very much into detail of spaces but still be assured that the quality of content will not be affected.
With the results of the bar exams released last week, everyone is ecstatic to see the new breed of lawyers that can change the course of the justice system of the country for better or worse. The news brought hope and changes the monotony of scandals and issues that the justice system faces. The Supreme Court, being one of the 3 branches under the constitution that runs the government, always faces political issues within its branch and also around the country.
The work in the judicial branch requires a systematic approach which is complemented by their facilities and their organizational flow. Currently, the Supreme Court complex is made up of 3 buildings, the Centennial Building by Palafox Architecture group, the Old Supreme Court building which was the former University Hall of UP Manila built by William Parsons, and the Supreme Court Annex Building which was the former UP Manila Main library.
Centennial building by Palafox Architecture
In 2016 Bases and Conversion development authority (BCDA) and The Supreme Court had an open call for an international design competition for the new Supreme Court Complex in Fort Bonifacio. This move was due to the need for better facilities.
Why is there a need to transfer to a new complex?
As mentioned earlier, the judicial branch runs on a systematic approach helped and improved by the facilities but unfortunately the current complex barely manages to do so and it already exceeded its carrying capacity.
The main problem of the complex is the hierarchy of spaces, there are a lot of high security offices mixed with public spaces. The offices are basically connected and proximity is essential, however because of the growing collections of data or records per office, people look for spaces wherever available.
Original Ceiling height of the old supreme court is about 4m and at the present because of lack of space, the tenants decided to maximize the 4m height and create a mezzanine or another level resulting to cramp office layout.
The whole compound is a borrowed space from both UP Manila and NBI which makes space layouts very organic and not thought of, getting around is a challenge so does for designation of high security areas.
Cases, evidence and complaints are stored in rolls that go through almost all the offices. These rolls follow a strict flow and with of the current situation in the space layout, these rolls are susceptible to misplacement, loss or tampering.
Based on the current organizational chart, there are 3 division chambers which look to most of the cases and the en banc that looks into those may be against the constitution. The current layout only has one division session hall and an en banc session hall, these spaces are used based on a schedule that is not beneficial if a fast pace trial is desired.
The Supreme Court has not own its own property for over 100 years and as mentioned earlier the buildings of the complex are from UP Manila thus the buildings are not entirely designed to house the needs of the supreme court.
These are the primary driving forces for the Supreme Court to transfer to Fort Bonifacio. The new complex will be situated in Fort Bonifacio near the AFP compound and Mckinley hill making it a perfect spot in terms of security and privacy.
Mañosa & Company led by Angelo Mañosa won the competition for the new complex. Their advocacy for green and resilient buildings is shown on their entry with the building complex inspired from the sun motif of the Philippine flag. Their proposed design calls for a complex composed of three building clusters surrounding a circular central tower which is meant to host the En Banc Session Hall. The completion date is projected to be on 2019.