New DTI-Cebu office ‘bright, modern’

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Sunday, July 20, 2014


WITH consumer welfare being among the things they are responsible for, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)-Cebu Director Nelia Navarro felt that the comfort of clients transacting at her office should also be a priority.

For several years, their clients had to climb the stairs to reach the third floor of their office to go to some divisions and return to the first floor if they needed to complete other transactions with other divisions.

Navarro admitted this was an inconvenient arrangement, not only for her clients, but also for her staff, as they were in separate spaces.

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They had begun scouting for new locations to become accessible and to accommodate all their needs when a magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck Central Visayas, rendering their third floor office unusable.

Inspiration

Having to squeeze in a staff of over 40 into a small space housing the National Economic Research and Business Assistance Center (Nerbac), Navarro felt the need to find a new home for all them.

“The client is our inspiration. We needed to be able to maximize space while making sure the clients are relaxed, comfortable and are served fast and efficiently,” Navarro told Sun.Star Cebu. She said her staff also needed to be in a space they felt comfortable in to deliver the best quality service.

The building beside the Nerbac had just been vacated by the Department of Foreign Affairs, but Navarro and her staff did not want to consider it. All they saw was a dank, depressing space that they suspected was haunted because of its dark interiors.

But when she showed the space to architect Buck Sia of Zubu Designs, he found it a gem that needed polishing.

He noticed the white diamond-pattern parapet at the top of the building’s exterior and the ceiling patterns in the main lobby. He felt that if the building’s features could only be showcased, it could be seen in a new light. Built to house a bank in the 1970’s, the corner building was designed by Ramon Escario.

Sia went to his design table with the idea of incorporating the diamond patterns into his new design.

Bright, white, modern

It took between six to eight months and consultations with the DTI to come up with the new office. All divisions that deal with the public are in the first floor while Navarro’s office and other staff members are in the second floor.

The result is a bright, white, modern building that has enough space for those applying for business name registration and consultations with the DTI while accommodating all its workers in 686 square meters.

Although the space is smaller than what they used to occupy, which was 630 square meters on the third floor and almost 200 in the first floor, Navarro said occupying one space makes it more efficient for all of them to do their work.

Sia acknowledged that he had to bring in more light without exposing the office to the heat of the afternoon sun. He incorporated the diamond pattern into his design, putting in slits that he calls “modular gills” into the west-facing wall to let in natural light without the sun’s rays penetrating the inside. He said that in case of power failure, the office will remain well-lit even with the lights out.

Sia reused many of the building’s old features, including its marble floors. He used the corner wall of the exterior to put a large marker to make the office easily identified as that of the DTI-Cebu.

The new building cost about P10 million to complete, including some furnishings, air conditioning and security features. The staff completed their move last Monday.

The cost of the renovations were shouldered by building owner Dr. Carlos Lozada.

Navarro said that Lozada took a risk in paying for the renovations and taking them on as tenants as government agencies can only get into one-year lease contracts.

However, she believes they made the right decision with their new office, saying other locations were more expensive. They were also able to save on costs.

While their old offices cost them P181,500 a month in rental, this new office is at a lower rate of P145,000. With eco-friendly touches incorporated into the building such as ducting systems, inverter air conditioners and new lighting, they are also expected to be more energy efficient.

“There are many advantages to the move. We have a lower rent and everybody here is happy,” Navarro said.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 21, 2014.

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