Taking from the traditional house of the Ifugao peoples of the Cordillera mountain range in Northern Luzon, Philippines, this proposal is aimed at reimagining the design and construction of buildings and exhibition spaces of the future post-anthropocene.
Here, a deep understanding of indigenous knowledge—that fount of know-how passed on by generations that lived in harmony with their environments—radically upends the construct that humans are the custodians this planet, in control and necessary in the preservation of an imagined order. Further, if the growing body of research saying so is not enough to disprove this hubris—where, in fact, it is human activities that are disrupting the ecological balance needed to sustain life on Earth—the current pandemic borne of our disrespect of biodiversities must be considered as our final call.
With this in mind, this humble design for how the museum of the future should be takes the form of the bale—the traditional Ifugao house—but is inverted inward and arranged radially on a central open atrium. Informed by indigenous building techniques and materials endemic to the site—substituting bamboo for the traditional hardwood as framework and bamboo plants acting as ‘exterior walls’—this structure reinforces age-old practices that are sustainably consummate: from harvesting of raw materials to the actual act of building and in use, the open-air design—promising the possibility of a.low to net-zero carbon future of museum design.
As but one example of the revitalisation of indigenous practices, (1) this model aims to inspire, empower the structure’s constituents—which has long been one of the aims of architectures that have become lost along the course of rapid urbanisation and all that it signifies: with profitability at its worst.
Although the use-value for the short term may be the same—we cannot discount the value of museums as we know them today as that site of engagement in all its forms—this project is a simple rethinking of the institution’s form as an immediate response to the climate crisis we are facing that is a comprehensively sustainable a mode of building.
As a step towards a future we want, this proposal aims to be a beacon of communion (in its intimate scale) and inclusivity (in its openness by design) whilst remaining grounded in its respect of its environment.
Ultimately, this model in its binding of these ideas also exhibits an appreciation—in humility founded in systems of indigenous knowledge as old as the planet itself—of the interconnectedness of the rich biodiversity of this planet we call—and hope to continuously call—home.
(1) In this sense, this proposal can be considered a model for museums in other locales that can take their form, materials and methods of building from their own rich cultures.