World War Two Museum on Mt. Samat (proposed)

 Mt. Samat National Shrine
Pilar, Bataan



In 2018, we were requested to develop an architectural strategy for the conservation and development of Mt. Samat National Shrine, also known as Dambana ng Kagitingan, as part of a public-private partnership being considered at the time.  The aim of this partnership was to conserve the existing site and its monuments, as well as to create a new museum and hotel.  
We looked to the site, the existing architecture, and its iconography for inspiration.

 Marble Altar with carved front panels

 Proposed scheme preserves the imagery of the altar panel, shown at right with key features outlined in red
At the Colonnade, on the face of the marble altar, the rightmost panel contains a carved relief image of the Cross and the Colonnade, defining the Sacred Zone of Mt. Samat. This panel serves as a motto of our design intent, which is that our intervention – the World War Two Museum and the Mt. Samat Hotel – would have minimum visual impact on the composition of this panel. This is why the museum is underground, and the hotel is further down the mountain, away from view.  The Cross, including its elevator, would be repaired and restored, and would retain its unimpeded primacy of place.

 Proposed Site Development Plan shows existing Sacred Zone at left connected by cable car to hotel at right, downhill, away from view, outside the Sacred Zone
The Site Development Plan illustrates the main tenet of our proposal, which is to have minimal impact within the Sacred Zone.
The World War Two Museum is underground in the lawn south of the Colonnade. Only its tunnel-like entrance and exit, as well as its central skylight, are visible from the outside.
The Mt. Samat Hotel would be outside the Sacred Zone, to the north, further down the mountain, but linked via cable car. Its plan is cruciform, of similar proportions to the cross on Mount Samat, as if the hotel were a white shadow of the Samat cross, visible from space. The hotel would have a white roof, and its architecture will be a modern abstraction of the Topside Barracks on Corregidor.  
 Tunnel-like entrance to proposed underground museum
The entrance to the World War Two Museum would be at the same level as the base of the steps leading to the Colonnade, underscoring the role of the museum as a necessary preamble to visiting the Shrine. The visitor must understand the context, and the World War Two Museum would be the instrument of understanding. 
 Sector Two organizes the Hours of War around a central oculus that frames the cross
The plan proposed for the World War Two Museum would be organized into three sectors.

Closest to the entrance, Sector One would be about the background, the context of the times leading to war.

Sector Two would be about the war itself, the Hours of War, symbolized by a large domed space divided like a timepiece into the chronology of battle revolving around a central oculus or skylight which would frame, in the distance, the cross above Mount Samat.

Sector Three would be about the aftermath of war, and would lead to the exit where a plaza awaits, where views towards Manila Bay would hopefully help bring a sense of catharsis to the visitor. From this plaza, visitors would make their way up the stairs to the Colonnade, armed with a clearer and deeper understanding of World War Two, and the meaning of the Mount Samat National Shrine.