Kengo Kuma & Associates design cave setting for Museum of Indigenous Knowledge, Manila

by Kim Megson | 21 Oct 2015

Japanese architecture practice Kengo Kuma & Associates has revealed radical designs for the new Museum of Indigenous Knowledge, to be built in Manila in the Philippines.

The museum will cover 4,000 years of history, enabling visitors to experience the cultural and religious heritage of the islands’ indigenous peoples, starting from the Neolithic age.

The design has turned traditional museum architecture on its head by creating a jungle-inspired building inside an enormous cave.

Visitors will walk from the street through a soaring rock arch covered in tropical plants and into a large void.

Inside, they’ll continue through a wild environment of jungle, streams, ravines, ponds and waterfalls to reach a central atrium. These will replicate the mountains and valleys where the indigenous people of the Philippines sought refuge following the arrival of Spanish colonisers.

After the dramatic entrance space, the museum will be more conventionally designed, with five gallery floors, shops and restaurants. It will cover 97,000sq ft.

Explaining the concept of the entrance design, Javier Villar Ruiz, a partner at Kengo Kuma & Associates, said: “After talking with the curators and visiting sites where these cultures still exist, we understood that these indigenous peoples – and all those artefacts that bear witness to the way they live, their experience of the world and their beliefs – cannot be understood without an appreciation of the context and environment where they've lived throughout the centuries. This is why we abandoned the conventional idea of the museum as a container where content is simply displayed and observed, and have created a more radical concept.”

Ruiz claimed the design will create a juxtaposition between the stylised nature of the entrance and the authenticity of the collection, saying: "The idea of composing architecture from a series of stylised elements in order to orchestrate a new whole scenography is for us a very exciting new way to rethink how a museum can be. The stylised nature of the topography will be like suddenly entering a retro scene from a theatre.”

A completion date for the project has yet to be revealed.

Japanese architecture practice Kengo Kuma & Associates has revealed radical designs for the new Museum of Indigenous Knowledge, to be built in Manila in the Philippines. The museum will cover 4,000 years of history, enabling visitors to experience the cultural and religious heritage of the islands’ indigenous peoples, starting from the Neolithic age. The design has turned traditional museum architecture on its head by creating a jungle-inspired building inside an
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Once inside this large void they will be able to walk towards a central atrium through a wild environment of jungle, streams, ravines, ponds and waterfalls / Kengo Kuma
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