Hanna C. Lacsamana
Museo Kordilyera, the first structure to rise from the planned cultural complex of the University of the Philippines Baguio, presents to the public a complete setting for Cordillera culture and scholarly studies that is integrated with the natural environment and its preservation.
The ethnographic museum, which opened to the public on Jan. 31 to serve as repository of tangible and intangible heritage of the Cordillera, is described as a vital learning resource, a living museum, and a venue for disseminating faculty researches of the university. It is a component of UP Baguio’s emerging cultural hub, which solidifies its role as a premier arts and science institution in Northern Luzon.
The cultural hub, an aspect of the extensive infrastructure development plan of the university, will include its Cordillera Studies Center, an art gallery, and an auditorium-theater.
In line with its “green campus” policy under the leadership of Chancellor Raymundo D. Rovillos – that structures in the campus should integrate with its landscape – the UP Baguio management employed a highly specialized consultant to come up with a design that serves Museo Kordilyera and the cultural hub’s purposes without causing significant damage to its surroundings.
The team of Architect Aris Go of the Baguio-based 90 Design Studio architectural firm, which the school administration consulted in 2012 for the infra development plan, handled the extension and renovation of the then Galleriá Cordillera through a design that focused on maximizing space, using world-class earth friendly materials, and optimizing the natural setting of the area instead of destroying it.
From the original two-floor structure, Museo Kordilyera is now a three-level center with its reception area the only part visible on the surface while the two floors are built underground.
The layout has kept the open space above the underground museum levels intact as a plaza complex, saving up on land space required if the building was extended horizontally.
The walls of the reception area are made of frameless glass, allowing a vista of trees and open space around the building. It also provided a living backdrop to the hall, which contains Cordillera anthropomorphic carvings and a giant pasiking (traditional rattan backpack) woven by Ifugao native artist Jason Domling.
The underground levels serve as its main exhibition hall. It has three areas, precisely arranged to give the objects on display its best features. It also has a visible storage area where curatorial work and research on the museum’s permanent collection are done.
On display are the museum’s inaugural exhibits: the Batok Tattoos: Body as Archive based on the research of museum director Analyn Salvador-Almores; Jules De Raedt: Life Works, Lived Worlds – a retrospect of the works of Belgian missionary anthropologist De Raedt, who was also a UP Baguio faculty member; and In Flux: Reconfiguring the ethnographic photograph by Roland Rabang of the UPB Department of Language, Literature and the Arts, which features photographs on Sagada, Mountain Province.
The lower levels also have a room for the orientation of visitors, an audio-visual room, a shop, and a cafe.
Go said they applied the goal of UP Baguio as a green campus in the choice of materials used such as timber, which is a carbon storage. They used as much passive ventilation or natural ventilation system as possible. Pile foundations for steadier support were used instead of spread footings, which is why they did not have to cut trees in the area.
The campus master development plan will apply similar standards and other groundbreaking features that aim to upgrade operational and architectural practices in the city.