February 24, 2020

Filipino Design Thinking: Why the Philippines Pavilion is the Story of the Filipino

Bangkota, the Philippines Pavilion at the 2020 Expo in Dubai is more than just an architectural masterpiece showcasing the Philippines. Woven within its undulating and free-flowing form is the 4,000-year journey and history of the Filipino people. 

Designed by visionary architect Royal Pineda, the “Bangkóta is a living coral reef, pulsating with people, movement, activities, flora and water features, all functioning as one global ecosystem.” Measuring a total outdoor area of 1,268 square meters and 385 square meters of winding path, with a total landscaped area of 676 meters that includes water features, the Bangkota is surrounded by a see-through and free-form wire mesh that exoskeleton that shelters visitors from morning and afternoon sun. 


Tapping into his own design philosophy of ‘Nature is Peace’, Royal took inspiration from the fact that coral reefs spread and thrive across the oceans, just as how Filipinos thrive across the world. This makes the Bangkota a transcendent architectural masterwork as it is as much about Filipinos as it is about the Philippines. 

The Philippines Pavilion is both an indoor and outdoor experience, with the undulating external structure acts as a protective, fertile habitat to the hidden treasures within. It thus becomes a venue to appreciate nature and its light and shadows, depth and expanse, widths and heights, breeze and humidity, warm and comfort, and the feel of raw and refined. 

At its core, the Philippines Pavilion is a monument to the creativity and compassion of the Filipino, as well as their unique bayanihan spirit. Further, Architect Pineda sees the Bangkota as an exploration of the Filipinos’ history that spans well before 1521, when Spanish colonizers first arrived in the Philippines, with famed curator Marian Roces responsible for piecing together the Filipinos’ millennia-long story, to ensure that the exhibits within the pavilion are based on solid historical and cultural facts. 



Inside, visitors play an active role in creating the narrative sequence by being given freedom to roam the pavilion’s spaces and exhibits. The interior spaces are designed to elicit both thought and action, offering varying levels of immersive experiences through art and film installations. Each visitor thus becomes part of the story, where digital interactive art forms cinematically surround the viewer. 


In the same vein, the Bangkota is a celebration of the Filipino creativity. This is the reason why an entire network of collaborators such as National Artist for Music Ramon Santos, visual maverick Avid Liongoren, and 11 of the Philippines’ prominent artists have been called upon to contribute their own interpretation of the Bangkota’s overarching theme of permeability, connectivity, and sustainability. With artists, designers, and creators lending their skills and talents, the Bangkota is truly a product of the bayanihan spirit and a genuine example of design thinking that Filipinos can call their own. 

The Bangkota will open in Dubai on October 20, 2020.

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