The Cultural Center of the Philippines’ masterplan states that ”The CCP Complex shall be a center for arts and culture in Asia. Primarily, it shall be the centerpiece of artistic expression of the Filipino soul and spirit, created for the Filipino artist and all sectors of Philippine society. The CCP Complex shall be the major cultural, ecological and tourism landmark of the Philippines. It shall be a home for the Filipino artist and an urban oasis for the Filipino people.” In relation to this vision, the Cultural Center of the Philippines, recently held a design competition for two new iconic buildings within it’s complex –a New Performing Arts Theatre, and an Artists’ Center, located within the Arts Sanctuary Cluster of the 62 hectare property. Buensalido Architects recently shared with us their entry for this competition.
Design Concept: “A TAPESTRY OF THE FILIPINO CULTURE” Weaving as Core Concept The Philippines is known for its hybrid of cultural identities. The descendants hailed from different countries, eventually forming intricate layers of diverse characteristics which now define Filipinos. Their distinctiveness, therefore, lies in that hybridity – they are a unique tapestry of interwoven cultures.
Weaving is a manifestation of coming together to bind, intertwine and strengthen materials. With the help of many interlaced threads, a single thread can form part of an extremely stronger fabric, as evidenced in many artifacts of vernacular culture: strands of Buri thread can form a banig; otherwise delicate Jusi Fiber can form an intricate Barong Tagalog; and a united people can overthrow unjust leaders. This symbolism of coming and standing as one– weaving together different parts to form a coherent and strong whole – is applied in different levels of Buensalido Architects’s design proposals to serve as a constant reminder of their collective strength as a country.
Weaving Architectonic Threads
The two structures create a tapestry of architectonic “threads” originating from various locations mapped out within the Cultural Complex, then connected with imaginary splines that wrap around the given sites. All “threads”, after being interwoven, culminate in an upward sweep towards the sea at the New Performing Arts Theatre site, signifying the project’s important role to stir a sense of cultural aspiration in the hearts of Filipinos. As a contrast to the harsh rigidity of the box-like top of the old theatre, the threads eventually become the volumes of the two new structures which echo the curves of the existing Performing Arts Theater’s curvilinear lines to visually blend with the pre-existing architecture of the complex.
Weaving Commerce and Culture Filipinos have grown accustomed to the comforts of the mall, foregoing the urban spaces of Manila. The buildings are therefore envisioned to be urban spaces as much as structures, where Filipinos can converge, celebrate and re-connect.
The elevated bridges and ramps shoot in and out of the two buildings, expanding and contracting to accommodate public plazas and al fresco dining areas. These “threads” shall infiltrate even the cultural spaces within the theatre, morphing into commercial spaces at different levels that pull people in and out of the two structures. The steady flow of people makes the structures seem alive and vibrant, as well as ensures the structures’ financial sustainability through the subsidy of the building’s maintenance.
A new urban design language is created—one that engages everyone to reconnect with urban spaces through a perfect balance of commerce and culture. This physical and metaphysical network introduces interrelationships that allow people from all walks to co-exist and experience culture, and inversely, for culture to reach out to its people.
Weaving Open spaces into the Architecture (Pedestrianization) In contrast to the design of the old performing arts building which is dominated by a vehicular ramp for the chauffer-driven, a strong sense of pedestrian empowerment is integrated with the new design to symbolize the idea that culture is accessible by everyone.
Ensuring that pedestrian routes do not intersect with vehicular roads, the proposed structures shall hover above the ground plane, connected by a network of steps, ramps and bridges that also form the over-all architecture. This frees up the entire ground plane to be expansive pedestrian-free parking spaces. The spines expand to become interactive spaces for outdoor activities such as al fresco dining, interactive art installations and performances. The two buildings rest on elevated parks whose steps reach out towards the open spaces that surround it. This projects a welcome and accessible atmosphere- a true democratization of cultural access.