by Emelie Yabut Razon, Tatler Asia
A mountain range on the outskirts of Manila may be the last place you’d expect to find a world-class art museum, let alone four. But property magnate Robbie Antonio is determined to make his latest development, Batulao Artscapes, a must-see destination in Southeast Asia
The recently announced Batulao Artscapes, located at the foot of the Philippines’ Mount Batulao, will be home to four themed museums designed by four different architects, all of whom are Pritzker Prize laureates:
There’s the Revolution Museum for Design and Architecture by Christian de Portzamparc (who designed Cité de la Musique in Paris), the Revolution Museum for Visual Arts by Jean Nouvel (who designed the Louvre Abu Dhabi), the Revolution Museum for Art and Technology by US-based Philip Johnson/Alan Ritchie Architects, and the Revolution Museum for Performing Arts by Japan’s Tange Associates.
Robbie Antonio, an avid art collector and founder and CEO of Revolution Pre-crafted—a start-up for prefabricated designer homes—is the mastermind behind the US$1.1 billion project, which he calls “the world’s first live-in art park”.
“For Batulao Artscapes, I was inspired by Naoshima which, in my opinion, is one of the most remarkable art and architecture destinations in the world,” he says, referring to the island in Japan known for its contemporary art museums, mostly designed by another Pritzker Prize-winning architect, Tadao Ando.
Antonio adds: “There’s also Inhotim in Brazil (a public contemporary art park within a 5,000-acre jungle). These spots around the world have become cultural meccas, so I thought, what if we could create a similar project, but this time, giving people the option to live there? Batulao Artscapes is a place where you can enjoy the cool mountain air in your prefabricated weekend home, and see world-class art in a Jean Nouvel museum without having to go to the Louvre Abu Dhabi.”
Another major attraction of Batulao Artscapes is its residential offerings. Those looking for chic weekend retreats or retirement properties can consider prefab designer homes by Berlin’s Studio Libeskind, French-Brazilian architect Elizabeth de Portzamparc, Pelli Clarke Pelli, LA-based Marmol Radziner, style icon Daphne Guinness and even rock star Lenny Kravitz. Plans also include sports facilities, a floating chapel, and a man-made lake and beach.
Antonio’s idea for Revolution Pre-crafted, the Philippines’ first unicorn startup, came about after he commissioned renowned Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas to design his home in the Philippines. He realised there was a wealth of opportunity in working with award-winning architects to create upscale, yet easily accessible living and commercial spaces, similar to how high street brands were collaborating with high fashion designers.
By this time, he had amassed quite an art collection, including works by Francis Bacon and Jeff Koons, even commissioning portraits from Julian Schnabel, Damien Hirst, Takashi Murakami, and David Salle.
“For a while, I really followed the circuit. Modern contemporary artists like Bacon and Pollock are my favourite, but right now I’m also looking at the masters, like Delacroix, Rubens, and Goya.”
In the last two years, Antonio has made “prefabricated” a real buzzword in the property development arena. Since he started Revolution Pre-crafted in 2015, Antonio has made headlines by successfully enlisting more than 30 of the world’s star architects—including Marcel Wanders and Zaha Hadid Architects—to work on his ambitious prefab projects, ranging from cutting-edge homes to pavilions, pop-ups, and restaurants.
With the first phase of Batulao Artscapes underway, Antonio’s team hopes to get at least two of the museums open by the time Art Basel Hong Kong comes around in 2019.
“We want visitors to the show to include us in their itineraries. The plan is to have an internationally curated collection together with commissioned work, host gallerists and to juxtapose local with international artists. Why not have a Poklong (Anading) next to a Basquiat, right?”
Mount Batulao, famous for its easy hiking trails and breathtaking views, is a 90-minute drive Manila, and a stone’s throw from Tagaytay, a popular weekend getaway.
Find out more at batulaoartscapes.com