This martial law museum design is a finalist at the prestigious World Architecture Festival



The firm’s lead architect Jason Buensalido said the structure portrays our fragmented society during martial law.

ANCX staff | August 21, 2021

[This post has been updated to accommodate request of architect Jason Buensalido to change the name of the Freedom Memorial Museum to “Fragmented to Free” so that there is no confusion to the museum that will soon start construction.]

Buensalido Architects’ martial law memorial design concept is one of 180 finalists from 40 countries who will participate in the prestigious World Architecture Festival 2021 in Lisbon in December. The company’s design for a Freedom Memorial Museum will first compete with 14 other entries in the Future Project category in order to compete for the world title.

“Fragmented in free” is a visual representation of the era of martial law, a dark chapter in the country’s history. It honors the lives of victims of human rights violations during the period. The project was actually the company’s participation in a 2019 local design competition for the Freedom Memorial Museum, organized by the Human Rights Violations Victims’ Memorial Commission. It is the design of the team of architect Marc Anthony Pait who won said tilt and whose design will be built on the UP Diliman campus.

According to Jason Buensalido, Principal Architect and Chief Design Ambassador for Buensalido Architects, its structure portrays our fragmented society, as suggested by the overlapping cylindrical shapes that appear to be messy. He says the building was really intended as proof that the years of martial law have taken place. Because some of the younger generation (Generation Z and the younger Generation Y) don’t even know the reality of martial law, ”Jason told ANCX. “Some people think it was propaganda, that it wasn’t true.”

Zoom on the atrium of the “Fragmented to Free” museum. Provided by Jason Buensalido

The design hopes to be a physical and tangible reminder of our past. “The idea is that peace, closure, justice cannot be achieved overnight. The fragments in which our society exists must be reconstituted for peace, ”he adds.

The entire memorial was designed to be lived in a circular fashion – with circular rooms (the galleries), which would surround a circular atrium. “The circle is constant in experience, to symbolize that democracy has its balance of power, and it is for the greater good all the time.”

While the interpretation of the design may lean towards a dark perspective in some parts, Jason says the design also exemplifies hope through what he calls the “healing facade”. It bears this name, because it would be built with two-tone stone blocks, to pay homage to the unexplained disappearances or Desaparecidos. “The hope is that eventually the people who haven’t had a closure yet will have a closure. People whose relatives have not been recognized will be recognized, ”explains Jason. Over time, as each person is recognized, the stone blocks will be turned one by one, from dark to light. It can take years for all the stones to be turned, says the architect, just as healing takes time.

Jason says it’s a huge honor for their company’s design to be shortlisted from over a thousand entries from around the world and to represent the Philippines in the world’s biggest architectural event. “Communicating this essential truth, this part of our history, is a big deal for us. It’s our way of saying may pinagdaanan kami, and it’s real, ”he says.

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