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Pop Up on Katipunan is a Mall Made Entirely Out of Container Vans
Did anyone say "upcycle"?
IMAGE Courtesy of AIRy Mobile
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It’s easy to think Manila doesn’t need any more malls. Why can’t we have more parks and open spaces, the way other cities around the world do? Well, a bunch of professionals from New York noticed the same thing, and that’s why they’re opening a different kind of mall along Katipunan. 

Developed by real estate startup AIRy Mobile, The Pop Up will be an open-air mall made out of moveable container vans. This means that apart from permanent establishments, you can have—you guessed it—pop-up shops ranging from 15 to 650 square meters. Or you could move the containers out and convert the space into a basketball court, concert venue, or events space for bazaars, parties, car shows, and pretty much anything else you could think of. 

“We envision a place where anyone, no matter what their age might be, can come to The Pop Up and find something they have never seen before and would never have expected,” says James Thomas, chief operating officer of AIRy Mobile. “At the end of the day, what we really want to create is a community center that people would just love to come hang out in. We’ve carefully curated our tenant mix so that it would be enjoyed by anyone and everyone.”


“Whether you’re looking for great food, drinks, games, a haircut, a pair of limited edition sneakers, a vintage jacket you’d never see in stores, you’ll be in awe at the wide variety of awesome concepts we’re bringing in,” Thomas continues.

Among the tenants who have signed up are Eat Fresh—a popular Hong Kong street food restaurant, and Filthy Rich Barber Shop, which hails from NYC. Filthy Rich was founded by Rich Mendoza, a Fil-Am celebrity barber whose clients include the likes of Drake, Big Sean, and NBA, MLB, and NFL players.

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“One last teaser I can give is we will be opening a 650-square meter gym for the one and only Brandon ‘The Truth’ Vera. He’s the current One Championship Heavy Weight champion and will be starting Alliance Training Center to help develop the fight game here in Manila,” Thomas says. “They will also offer self-defense classes, engage in anti-bullying and rape campaigns, provide education on health and wellness, and the cherry on top…there will be a 40 foot pool and MMA cage as well. I get so excited just thinking about it.”

Now, the reason why Filipinos flock to enclosed malls is to escape the heat, humidity, and pollution. So how is an open-air concept stationed right alongside Katipunan going to work?


“The Pop Up is a semi indoor-outdoor venue so we went to great lengths to ensure the comfort of all of our visitors,” Thomas says. “The modules themselves are all equipped with electricity and will be fitted out with heavy duty air-con. Speaking from experience, it can get quite chilly if you blast it on full power. As for the outdoor portion, we actually went above and beyond with this one. We’re building a stadium style retractable canopy that will cover the entire site. On nice days and nights, we’ll open the entire thing and everyone can enjoy the beautiful weather. On the not so nice days, we’ll close it up and we’ll all be sheltered from the heat and rain.”

On top of that, the canopy will have two Big Ass Fans—no really, that’s the name of the company that produces the fans, which are 25 feet in diameter and resemble helicopter propellers. “They’re designed to cool the largest of spaces and we definitely need them to keep everyone cool while dining alfresco.”

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The designers at AIRy Mobile understand that parking can be a huge pain in the butt, and that’s why the Pop Up will have 5,000 square meters of parking space. The architects behind the project are Michael Wen Sen Su and Fredrick Liwanag. Su is a professor of Architecture at Pratt Institute in NYC who has studied at Princeton, Columbia, Cooper Union, and Cal Tech. Liwanag is one of the architects behind the master plan of BGC. He has recently worked with Microsoft to develop the largest smart city in America, right outside Washington D.C.

The Pop Up is on Xavierville Avenue cor. Katipunan, and will be on soft opening in mid-December. Their first event will be a Tropical Christmas Bazaar. Check their Instagram account for updates and if you’re interested in renting retail space, contact James Thomas at [email protected].

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Angelica Gutierrez
Angelica is currently Editorial Assistant for Esquiremag.ph.
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