Redefining the Arts District: Inside the World’s First Livable Art Park

Filipino real estate developer Robbie Antonio discusses his vision for the one-of-a-kind project.

Filipino real estate developer Robbie Antonio has always had an eye for art. His Manila residence is filled with modern and contemporary pieces from Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, Francis Bacon, and others—a revelation that led the art-collector database Larry’s List to refer to him as “arguably the biggest collector in the Philippines.” In 2015, Antonio merged his loves for art and architecture by founding Revolution Precrafted, a Philippine company that manufactures prefabricated houses dreamed up by leading architects and designers such as Jean Nouvel, Sou Fujimoto, and the late Zaha Hadid.

Antonio’s newest venture, Batulao Artscapes, takes the concept one step further. “It’s meant to be the world’s first livable art park, where you can live in and amongst wonderful works of art,” he says of the 350-acre development, which will be located about 2 hours outside of Manila. Situated between Taal Volcano in Tagaytay and the sandy white beaches of Nasugbu, Batangas, the verdant destination will be far removed from the stresses of city living but will include a forum for art that even urbanites will envy.

The project was envisioned as a community of artistic residences and museums, and art will be the common denominator throughout. Prospective homeowners can choose one of 20 designs for one- to three-bedroom prefab properties designed by Marmol Radnizer and Kravitz Design, Philip Johnson Alan Ritchie Architects, Marcel Wanders, and Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, among others. Approximately 4,000 homes will grace the grounds. Many of the freestanding residences are whimsical, ultramodern creations, with dramatic lines, slanted roofs, and walls of glass that look out to the artificial lake and surrounding forest. “People see the homes as art pieces,” Antonio says. “Neighbors will have very different homes, so that really adds value” to the experience of living in a gallery of structural art.

In addition to abodes that function as works of art, four museums will pepper the quarter, each designed by Pritzker Prize–winning architects, including a visual-​arts museum conceived by Jean Nouvel (the talent behind Madrid’s Reina Sofía museum expansion) and an architecture-and-design museum envisioned by French architect Christian de Portzamparc. In addition, there will be a lakeside beach, a beach club, and a chapel.

The one-of-a-kind undertaking will open in December 2018, with prices for the lots and homes ranging from $60,000 to $600,000. Antonio is already thinking of other projects intended for those who value the intersection of art and architecture. He says, “We’ll be announcing many other master plans throughout the region and world.”

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