Philippines Debuts in Venice Architecture Biennale with ‘Muhon’

May 25, 2016

Following the country’s successful re-entry to the Art Biennale in 2015, another milestone is achieved as the Philippines debuts in the 15thInternational Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia with the exhibition Muhon: Traces of an Adolescent City.


Muhon, the historic first participation of the Philippines in the Venice Architecture Biennale, will take its audience to the past, present and probable future of nine cultural markers in Metro Manila.


In line with Alejandro Aravena’s vision for the 2016 Architecture Exhibition to display success stories where architecture did, is and will make a difference in improving the quality of both built environment and people’s lives, the Philippine Pavilion, according to Leandro Y. Locsin, Jr., “aspires to be a platform for a collaborative and collective act of reflection about the built environment on the edge of the precipice.”


Aravena is the Curator of the 15th International Architecture Exhibition titled Reporting from the Front.


Locsin of the Leandro V. Locsin Partners (LVLP), the architectural firm that curated Muhon, explained that “Architects must encourage the public to take a step back, to pause and to demand deeper, more enlightened contemplation on our built heritage.”


Six architects and three contemporary visual artists were selected by the LVLP curatorial team—composed of Locsin, Sudarshan Khadka, Jr. and Juan Paolo dela Cruz—to participate in the building of Muhon, a collaborative exploration about the implications of rapid creation and destruction within Metro Manila’s built environment.


The nine participants and the subject buildings and urban elements featured in the Philippine Pavilion are Poklong Anading for KM 0; Tad Ermitaño for Pandacan Bridge; Mark Salvatus for Binondo; Eduardo Calma for the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC); Jorge Yulo for Mandarin Hotel; 8×8 Design Studio Co. for the Magsaysay Center; C|S Design Consultancy for Pasig River; Lima Architecture for the Makati Stock Exchange; and Mañosa & Co. for Tahanang Pilipino or Coconut Palace.


“In tracing each Muhon through its History, Modernity and Conjecture, the exhibit aims to grapple with the search of identity through the built environment within the context of an aggressively expanding megacity. It proposes to distill and abstract the essence of the city’s cultural markers to interpret their meaning and to discover the presence or relative absence of value,” Locsin explained.


Felipe de Leon, Jr., Commissioner for the Philippine Pavilion and Chairperson of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), said that the structure and layout of buildings have a profound impact on people.


“Architecture plays a crucial role in human life. Well-designed forms and spaces of sacred national shrines and monuments can be effective instruments for unifying our people and enhancing the sense of nationhood. A dismal future for a city is when there will be no more public spaces where people can develop a strong sense of community, civic sense or sense of belonging,” de Leon said.


Senator Loren Legarda, the visionary behind the Philippines’ participation in the Venice Biennale, said that Muhon underscores the reality that architecture must respond to human needs.


“Building is not only about creating new structures all the time. It is also about revitalizing communities and connecting the present with the past. Cities and its architecture, in a way, shape our personal narrative while allowing us to connect as a community,” she explained.


Meanwhile, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Jose Rene Almendras highlighted the importance of the Philippine participation in providing opportunity to Filipino architects and artists to showcase the excellence and vitality of their talents to a significantly wider audience.


“Our participation in the Venice Architecture Biennale will not only connect our artists and architects to the world’s leading curators, art critics, fellow architects and artists, but will also allow them to share their stories and interpretations as well as challenge our perceptions of the realities around us,” Almendras said.


The Philippine participation in the 15th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, was made possible through the collaborative efforts of the NCCA, DFA, and Office of Senator Loren Legarda, with support from the Department of Tourism (DOT).


The Philippine Pavilion’s vernissage will be on May 27 and will open to the public from May 28 to November 27, 2016 at the European Cultural Centre – Palazzo Mora in Venice, Italy.