Bangkóta, the Philippine Pavilion at the 2020 Expo in Dubai is more than just an architectural masterpiece showcasing the Philippines.
Woven within the piece’s undulating and free-flowing form is the 4,000-year journey and history of the Filipino people. It will debut at the expo’s opening on Oct. 20.
Designed by visionary architect Royal Pineda, the “Bangkóta is a living coral reef, pulsating with people, movement, activities, flora and water features, all functioning as one global ecosystem.”
Measuring a total outdoor area of 1,268 square meters and 385 square meters of winding path, with a total landscaped area of 676 meters that includes water features, the Bangkóta is surrounded by a see-through and free-form wire mesh exoskeleton that shelters visitors from morning and afternoon sun.
Royal took inspiration from the fact that coral reefs spread and thrive across the oceans, just as how Filipinos thrive across the world. This makes the Bangkóta a transcendent architectural masterwork as it is as much about Filipinos as it is about the Philippines.
Further, Pineda sees the Bangkóta as an exploration of the Filipinos’ history that spans well before 1521, when Spanish colonizers first arrived in the Philippines, with famed curator Marian Roces responsible for piecing together the Filipinos’ millennia-long story to ensure that the exhibits within the pavilion are based on solid historical and cultural facts.
With the multi-million-peso showcase, the Philippine Pavilion is both an indoor and outdoor experience, with the undulating external structure acting as a protective, fertile habitat to the hidden treasures within. It thus becomes a venue to appreciate nature and its light and shadows, depth and expanse, widths and heights, breeze and humidity, warm and comfort, and the feel of raw and refined.
Inside, visitors play an active role in creating the narrative sequence by being given freedom to roam the pavilion’s spaces and exhibits. The interior spaces are designed to elicit both thought and action, offering varying levels of immersive experiences through art and film installations. Each visitor thus becomes part of the story, where digital interactive art forms cinematically surround the viewer.
The Bangkóta is a celebration of the Filipino creativity, as an entire network of collaborators such as National Artist for Music Ramon Santos, visual maverick Avid Liongoren, and 11 of the Philippines’ prominent artists have been called upon to contribute their own interpretations of the Bangkóta’s overarching theme of permeability, connectivity, and sustainability.
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