Baguio City Creative Hub & Pavilion

Throughout the years, Baguio has provided a myriad of opportunities for the people in various ways from gastronomy, music, literature to architecture and art, but the crafts and folk arts domain remains exceptionally strong with a unique and rich heritage and culture as its foundation. The City sits within that distinctive position as the intersection: the mixing ground for the old and new and the local and foreign. 

The Baguio City Creative Hub is a project that commemorates Baguio's designation as a UNESCO “Creative City” in the field of crafts and folk arts. The creative council, consisting of representatives from various sectors in the local creative economy and government, saw that there was a need to communicate and showcase the City's best creative outputs to the public to further promote Baguio’s creative community to a larger audience. 

Contrary to the City's recognition in one of the many fields mentioned in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network, this project aims to showcase more of what it was expected to deliver by attempting to promote creativity that goes beyond artistry--one that encourages the importance of the totality of the design industry.

Our design process for the creative hub started with a few questions that we thought was deemed relevant in the construction of the narrative: How do we showcase the City’s identity particularly in the creative industry? How do we create an architectural manifestation of the Cordilleran culture and tradition with the contemporary context in mind? How will the synthesis of both timelines affect the place, people, and the identity and creative direction of the City? 

The creative hub, placed in the context of the event, acts as an exhibition space and simultaneously stands as an installation itself. As a requirement, this was needed to be done within a short time frame. This consisted of less than a month of design and conceptualization and a fabrication period of a week.

The Hub was to be set in Malcolm Square, a public open space surrounded by commercial establishments and located within the bounds of the city center. To maintain the open characteristic of the park, there was a need to maintain permeability and explore negotiations between programs, people, and architecture. 

The initial stages of the project involved the exploration of a space formed by the synthesis between a park and an exhibition area, which later evolved to establishing a space that fosters community and connectedness--a space that encourages different arts and crafts to meld together to create an experience that is more nuance to the viewer. A loop was later on established to create an interaction between the artists and the people--a boundless space that creates an osmotic environment where one craft is able to relate to another.

The Cordillera region also bears its own distinct identity. A few of the many folk art forms where they were able to communicate and express this was through tattoos and the process of weaving. Of all the existing art forms, these were the ones that showed direct visual representations of the culture and the people of the city.

To transcend the essence of the Cordilleran culture and tradition to the design language of the creative hub, we have gathered various images and extracted distinct forms that were present in the patterns.

The forms were then superimposed together to form a new object. The inbetween result of past forms was then placed in ground level position to further realize its connection with the site and context of the project. This process of abstraction provided us with the opportunity to use past forms as a means of extracting essence and identity rather than creating literal interpretations that deviate from the context and the demands of the present time.

The integration of the parallelogram to the loop provided the possibility to create multiple three dimensional iterations that were more in sync with the language of the city, or rather opposed to it. 

To establish continuity, the same process was applied to the structural component of the exhibition spaces, forming a seamless connection between both forms despite differences in function. 

The pavilion carries the same narrative as the exhibition areas and is, in itself, an exhibition space or an installation that is being exhibited. It is an antithesis to the objects that surround it yet complements the overall composition of the space. 

The pavilion comprises of two aspects--a play between verticality and horizontality, where one could experience the difference in scale and the existence of the fundamentals in architecture devoid of its primary function yet is able to provide the opportunity to explore and produce programs specific to the culture and tradition of the City and its people. 

Our proposal for the pavilion is to establish a nature that is two-fold. On one hand, it serves as an architectural expression of Baguio’s traditional arts and crafts within a contemporary context as well as a representation of the city’s natural landscape, while on the other, it showcases our sentiments toward the identity of Baguio architecture, which does not only exist in visual and tangible materiality but as well as in the programs that have been and will only be present through the existence of the people, in which case, defined by the people themselves. The identity is defined by an individual as much as the pavilion is defined by the identity, which puts the pavilion in a place where it exists in an undefined timeline--a weaving of the old and new.

Architecture in the Philippines has gradually evolved throughout the centuries, with various designers still trying to push the boundaries of what was once considered as Philippine Architecture, especially in the contemporary era where the digital is now being considered as a possible tool to evolve the vernacular, and vice versa. 

Baguio, unlike most, if not all cities, has a strong sense of identity and cultural ideology towards its historical background. Although American colonial architecture still remains as the eminent contributor to the City's morphology, indigenous tribes from various areas and districts have also made major contributions to the creation of the City that we all know today.

This project led us to the formulation of a realization that we hope could instigate a dialogue towards the direction of Philippine architecture, or at the very least, Baguio architecture. The creative hub aims to contribute a new thought rather than dictate a new creative direction. It aims to question existing parameters and conditions in hopes to create a catalyst that could help the City and its people to further evolve within and eventually, beyond the sphere of Creativity.