Malaya – A Cultural Shift in the Filipino Diaspora


Personal Info

Name: Karl Mendez

Nationality: Filipino, New Zealander

Institution / Company: University of Auckland School of Architecture and Planning

Instagram: @youngangelo09


-FINALIST of Non Architecture Award 2022 Competition | Category: Urban & Landscape


Malaya: Free

The pursuit of a prosperous future in greener pastures binds diasporic Filipinos together. It is an honourable act of survival, but has fractured the identities of many. Utilizing it as a design framework to inspire change in the built environment is the driver of this project. 

Filipinos are a disseminated population serving others while simultaneously uplifting their loved ones back home. The diaspora resulted in a new concept of nationhood and what it means to be ‘Filipino’, ‘a country scattered worldwide. Implemented in the 1970s, it has turned the Philippines into one of Asia’s largest labour exporters. Unavoidably, it has become the ‘cure-all’ for every middle-class Filipinos to avoid low-quality education, unemployment, and poverty. 

Set in the Port of Cebu, Philippines, the project challenges the systemic thinking through the framework of a diasporic identity. Hybridity and adaptation are the core concepts. A speculative port dares to promote a renewed identity and enrich the individual’s sense of purpose and culture. The Original Filipino house archetypes were analysed to create links with relevant archetypes shedding insight into building effectively near water.

The seaport celebrates ancestral Filipinos’ pre-colonial way of living. It is manifested by building boats and working within flexible, fluid spaces to foster cross-pollination of knowledge and skill-building. Boat-building revives the relationship between the built environment and water by using it as a mode of transportation. The remedied port of Cebu transforms into a beacon of opportunity for empowerment by proposing a cultural shift towards the Filipino Diaspora. 


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