The celebrated exhibition “Structures of Mutual Support,” showcased at the Philippine Pavilion during the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale, returns to its roots at the Gawad Kalinga (GK) Enchanted Farm in Angat, Bulacan. After receiving acclaim at the prestigious international event, these community-built structures will now serve as a lasting symbol of collaboration, resilience, and mutual support.

Bayanihan and Dugnad

Conceived by the Gawad Kalinga Enchanted Farm Community and architects Sudarshan V. Khadka Jr. and Alexander Eriksson Furunes of the Framework Collaborative, the project earned the Philippines its first-ever Special Mention award at the Venice Biennale in 2021. This recognition celebrates the project’s contribution to community-driven architecture and collaborative construction practices, underscoring the transformative power of collective action.

The initiative behind Structures of Mutual Support began with an innovative vision to redefine architectural practice. Grounded in the principles of mutual support, the project actively involved local communities in both design and construction. Through workshops and collaborative efforts, the Framework Collaborative produced structures that capture the essence of Filipino bayanihan and Norwegian dugnad.

Bayanihan, a tradition deeply embedded in Filipino culture, embodies mutual support and collective action. Originating from the word “bayan,” meaning community, bayanihan illustrates the collective effort of neighbors coming together, traditionally to move a house. This concept highlights the importance of solidarity and cooperation, foundational to the Structures of Mutual Support.

Similarly, the Norwegian concept of dugnad emphasizes community-driven initiatives and shared responsibility. Derived from “dugnadsånd,” meaning “the spirit of communal work,” dugnad fosters a sense of belonging and collective ownership. Whether building community centers or maintaining public spaces, dugnad reflects mutual support and collaboration.

A Triumphant Homecoming

The exhibition’s acclaim at the Venice Biennale highlighted Filipino creativity and the global relevance of mutual support systems. Showcased at the Artigliere in the Arsenale in 2021, it captivated visitors with its compelling narrative.

“We are thrilled to welcome back Structures of Mutual Support to its permanent home at the Gawad Kalinga Enchanted Farm,” said Jose Luis Oquiñena, Chairman of Gawad Kalinga. “This exhibition represents the culmination of years of collaboration, dedication, and community empowerment.”

The homecoming celebration marks a new phase for Structures of Mutual Support. It transitions from an international exhibition to an integral part of the local community. This award-winning structure will continue to foster collaboration, social relationships, and solidarity.

“At its core, Structures of Mutual Support is about more than just buildings; it’s about people coming together to create something meaningful and lasting,” said curators Sudarshan V. Khadka Jr. and Alexander Eriksson Furunes. “The Special Mention award from the Venice Biennale exemplifies the power of collaboration and mutual support.”

Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda, who championed the Philippines’ participation in the Venice Biennale, remarked, “This project not only reflects our rich cultural heritage but also our commitment to sustainable development and environmental stewardship. As we welcome it back to the Gawad Kalinga Enchanted Farm, we celebrate the collective effort and shared vision that brought this remarkable structure to life.”

Sustaining Efforts

Ahead of the homecoming, capacity-building workshops were conducted to engage the local community. Victorino “Ino” Manalo, Chair of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), praised the community and curators for their innovative approach to architectural practice and looked forward to the positive impact of the exhibition on the community.

As Structures of Mutual Support returns to its origins, it reaffirms the importance of collaboration, empathy, and community building in shaping our built environment. The exhibition’s legacy will continue to inspire and empower communities globally to adopt mutual support as a guiding principle in architectural practice.

The sustained Philippine Pavilion at the Venice Biennale is a collaborative effort led by the NCCA, along with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Office of Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda.

Read more: Bayanihan in the Venice Biennale’s Philippine Pavilion: Structures of Mutual Support Exhibition

Photos courtesy of Philippine Arts in Venice Biennale (PAVB), National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA)

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