Metropolitan Museum of Manila

How to reinvent the first contemporary art museum of the Philippines?

Manila, Philippines
Expected Completion 2021

This new 3,000 sqm space is spread over three levels in Bonifacio Global City and marks a new epoch of the Museum, which first opened in 1976.

The design pays homage to the landscapes of the Philippines, inspired by the country’s forests, volcanic history, and the geocultural qualities of the archipelagos. Moveable wooden decks and table tables fill the palm-planted entrance with centers of gathering, echoing the geographic form of the islands of the Philippines. The color palette takes cues from the country’s beaches: their rich green foliage, muted earth tones, and white sands. Earth-colored pavers give way to areas of pebbles, lending a casual rhythm to the plaza and continuing the beach motif.

Passing into the lobby, visitors enter a lush space inspired by the experience of the forest. An arcade of green steel tubes envelops the grand double-height reception area, calling to mind the cover of trees and the visual effect of looking through the forest canopy. The reception lounge is finished in mossy greys, and concrete floors and walls the color of volcanic ash, imbuing the space with an air of solemnity. Reeded glass partitions separate the ground-floor galleries from reception, offering a play of opacity and transparency.

On the second floor is the Sky Room, a lighter and more ethereal space than the earthy reception lounge, and where bluer hues and softer materials predominate. Conceived as a place of reflection and solitary contemplation, the Sky Room offers islands of seating that emerge out of a sculpted terrazzo floorscape with screens for projecting art on two sides. The design recalls the rippling forms of karesansui, traditional Japanese rock gardens. A staircase enclosed in a folding translucent mesh rises from the Sky Room, adding a sculptural presence and inviting visitors to the upper galleries. Climbing up, visitors are enclosed by its mesh folds, an airy moment of transition to the art above.

In addition to the lobby and sky room, the functional program of the Manila MET consists of galleries, offices, and conservation areas. The circulation spaces are designed as spacious, cathedral-like halls flooded with natural light that allow for large-scale pieces to be easily transported and organize visitors’ circulation routes.The new Metropolitan Museum of Manila will be completed and ready to welcome visitors by January 2022.