Philippine Arena

Ciudad de Victoria, Philippines
Opened in 2014
Designing the world’s largest indoor theater would be a challenge wherever it was located. In the Philippines, Populous had to account for the tropical and humid local climate, as well as an active earthquake zone.
  • Client

    Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church of Christ)

  • Total Capacity


  • Disciplines

  • Collections

Situated to the north of Manila, the most densely populated city in the world, Populous envisioned Philippine Arena as a true gathering place for the community of Ciudad de Victoria and the wider city. Designed to host 50,000 people inside, the arena also features a ‘live site’ surrounding it, where another 50,000 people can come together for major events.  

Building at this kind of scale, Populous had to push the boundaries of arena design. Giving 50,000 people a single focal point and creating a feeling of intimacy in such a vast space is almost impossible. The solution? A one-sided seating bowl shaped like a saddle, rising in the middle and sloping at the sides. This gives every seat a clear sightline, even as the arena’s setup changes to accommodate the needs of different events — everything from church services and award ceremonies to Basketball World Cup games and Harry Styles concerts. 




For smaller events, special acoustic and thermal dividing curtains are used to separate the lowest tier of seats for a more intimate atmosphere. To cope with large numbers arriving for an event simultaneously, the arena’s entrances immediately redirect people to clear pathways. The arena is well ventilated and fully air-conditioned to keep audiences cool, and it is divided into multiple structures to strengthen the building’s earthquake resistance — a feature which saw the arena featured in the Discovery Channel documentary Man Made Marvels: Quake Proof.  

Recognised by the Guinness World Records as the largest mixed-use indoor theatre, Philippine Arena has hosted events with massive crowds. On New Year’s Eve 2014, 1,000,000 people flocked to the arena and its grounds, establishing it as Manila’s equivalent of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. 

5 items.
  • James Pearce Senior Principal, Senior Architect Brisbane
  • Cindy Yip Associate, Architectural Technician Brisbane
  • Tyler Robertson Associate Principal, Senior Architect Kansas City
  • Brett Wightman Senior Principal Singapore
  • Paul Henry Senior Principal, Co-Managing Director – APAC, Founder Brisbane

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