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Inside the empty halls of PICC

A Brutalist enthusiast captures Leandro Locsin’s iconic design

When the stage that holds the show has no show to hold, it becomes the main attraction, the star, the photographed. 

The Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) is one of the most iconic structures in the country. The favorite graduation and concert venue is one of the best examples of the Brutalist architectural style. It was designed by National Artist for Architecture Leandro Locsin. 

LESS IS MORE. The minimalist construction and bare design of the Philippine International Convention Center is much more apparent with its halls emptied by the pandemic. 
Inaugurated on Sept. 5, 1976 to host the World Bank-International Monetary Fund annual meeting, it has since then become one of Locsin’s most famous works and continues to be the premier meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions (MICE) venue in the country, not to mention an inspiration for budding architects and photographers. 

When the pandemic has closed the doors of theaters and convention centers to public events, the empty halls of PICC became the playground of photographer and Brutalist enthusiast Patrick Kasingsing. 

The cantilevered upper bridgeway connecting the Delegation Building to the Plenary and Reception Halls showcases the structural acrobatics Leandro Locsin executed.
“It was both unnerving and refreshing to see a venue sans its usual bustling crowd and events,” he said. 

Kasingsing is the figure behind the Brutalist Pilipinas Instagram page, a curated online platform spearheading the revival of Brutalist architecture in the public consciousness. 

In the images he shot and uploaded to the Instagram page, Kasingsing captured PICC’s heavy use of bare concrete, symmetry, form, and defined lines sans distraction—just a pure architectural wonder. 

Lines and symmetry seen on PICC’s vast halls, escalators, and staircases.
“It’s like finally beholding a work of art without the distraction of crowds; a chance to intimately get to know a structure in all its physical facets, and how the architect probably beheld the structure before it opened to the public,” he shared.

However, Kasingsing admitted the initial high of wandering the empty halls of PICC “gave way to a bit of loneliness at the lack of people and activity.” 

The collection of photos he took showcases Locsin’s magnum opus from inside to outside. But if there is one part of this structure that fascinates Kasingsing the most, he said it was the cantilevered upper bridgeway connecting the Delegation Building to the Plenary and Reception Halls. 

Lines and details in the reception hall
“This is where one can fully appreciate the structural acrobatics Locsin was able to execute with the littlest of design gestures. Sometimes less is more, and all the more memorable too!” enthused the self-proclaimed Locsin fan. 

As the world slowly and carefully reopens the doors that closed, the PICC has adopted new safety and sanitation measures and upgraded its Wi-Fi and technology facilities to cater to virtual and hybrid events. The venue is now accepting bookings for meetings and events; go to its website to know more.

Vivid showcase of bare concrete inside the convention center.
“We are eager to welcome our clients back to PICC. The circumstances may be different, and adjustments had to be made, but we are more than ready to help our clients and the MICE industry recover,” said Renato B. Padilla, general manager and board director of the PICC.

Photos by Patrick Kasingsing

Topics: Philippine International Convention Center , PICC , National Artist for Architecture , Leandro Locsin , Brutalist architectural style
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