About Tierra Perma

An unconventional
path leads

to boundless possibilities​

Tierra Perma is a multidisciplinary creative studio with diverse experience working with clients from Australia, Guatemala and Costa Rica. It was founded by Jake Magnus, an Australian architect, photographer and designer with an insatiable spirit for adventure. Jake has followed an unconventional path to say the least, having lived in 5 countries and traveled to 22 more.

Jake has a Masters of Architecture, minoring in sustainability and collaborative digital design.

He is also certified as a permaculture designer. He completed his qualification with Ecoversity and the Permaculture Institute of North America. 

His photographic work has been featured on platforms such as Dwell Magazine, Wall Paper Magazine, and Tourism Australia, to name a few. He has worked with the likes of six-time Olympic swimmer, Michael Klim, and the renowned yogi Dylan Werner. 

They told us we had to specialize. But we play by a different set of rules.

Inspiration
& Philosophy

Hong Kong

Hong Kong

the awakening
physical debris

Justice for the planet. This is where I was exposed to the physical debris produced by our current system, the “waste”.

We moved to Hong Kong when I was 5 and it is where I began school.

Here, I observed the impact on our ecological environment when the cheapest cost is sought without consideration for the full environmental costs and flow-on impact of this approach: A lot of fucking rubbish!

The reason why we moved to Hong Kong, my Dad started an eco-construction company about 40 years too early. He lost most of his money and had to go and recoup it working on big engineering projects. But it instilled in me an altruistic drive to embody my values and act on what I believe is just and right for myself, for all people and for the planet. I am grateful to him and all the brave visionaries who dared to try and “fail”; for the wisdom forged in those experiences grants me, grants us the opportunity to succeed.

Philippines

Philippines

the awakening 2.0
human debris

Justice for the people. This is where I was exposed to the human debris produced by our current system, the “waste”.

After 3 years in Hong Kong, we moved to the Philipines.

Here, I observed the impact on our anthropological environment when the cheapest cost is sought without consideration for the full social implications and flow on effects of this approach: A lot of fucking people suffering, living in inhumane conditions. This is largely driven by exploitation of labour and human capital by foreign cultures to achieve the lowest economic cost. The “unseen” cost of our system, out of sight and out mind. This is where I was exposed to the human debris produced by our current system, the “waste”.

When we don’t see these impacts it is easy to become detached, disconnected, disinterested, despondent and disenfranchised. We feel powerless individually to enact change. But we the people have the power. If we collectively decide that we want to create better and more equal societies together, nothing can stop us.

Australia

Australia

the return to privilege

I witnessed these two impacts of our current system first hand, through the innocent, unjudging and unbiased eyes of a child.

But I didn’t yet understand what those things meant. It wasn’t until years later in life when I could process what I had seen and what it meant, our system is very broken.

It took me returning to this privileged system for me to understand my privilege. While I was in those places I was subject and exposed to similar conditions, moreso the physical debris than the human debris, we lived very comfortable lives in these places. But the crucial difference is that when our work there was done, we could leave that place behind and return to our privileged lives.

Going through architecture school taught me to think critically and objectively about the way the built environment shapes our everyday lives. The power and potential of design, architecture and creativity to enhance (or detract from) the way space is inhabited. 

It made me think about who decides how the built environment is actually built. Why are property developers responsible for housing the masses? Why are our communities built by those more concerned with profits rather than with the collective prosperity of those communities?

New Journey

New Journey

the undeniable call to adventure

The evolution of knowledge and experience into wisdom through discerning application.

Fast forward 10 years or so, on the surface everything was going great in my life; I had a great job as an architect, in a happy relationship and discovering my new love for photography. But something was gnawing at me, an incessant whisper calling me back to the allure of the adventure trail. I loved being an architect but was dissatisfied with the state of the industry and when my relationship ended there was nothing to do but succumb to the call, to lose myself in the world, in order to find myself.

This is the beginning of my journey as storyteller, and I had quite the story to tell. I was eager to start, but I have come to realize that it isn’t my story that I want to tell, but rather the stories of the inspiring characters I meet along the way. My desire is to tell their stories, to amplify their voices and weave together these seemingly loose strands into a beautiful and meaningful tapestry.

Wisdom is formed over time when knowledge and experience are applied discerningly to circumstance. I was beginning to form a solid foundation of knowledge and experience but it had not had the time to evolve into true wisdom yet. I needed to continue exploring the world, discovering, imagining and refining my new direction. 

My journey took me via Papua New Guinea, California, Canada, Belgium, Holland, Spain, France, England, Mexico and Colombia before finding myself in Guatemala.

Guatemala

Guatemala

The rejection of privelidge

This is where I fell in love.

I found a home in a land and culture so foreign and previously unknown to me, developing an affinity and kinship with a group of people I never knew existed. A sense of belonging adrift in the world. In many ways, Guatemala reminded me of my experience in the Philippines with huge disparities in economic equality and yet a cultural and social richness. Happy individuals and caring communities, people united by a force stronger than the one that had oppressed them; the unbreakable collective spirit. 

A special part of my heart forever belongs to Guatemala. I was finally able to integrate my experience in the Philippines now older, more experienced, wiser and finding clarity in what it all meant. I wanted to reject my privilege, to be rid of this inequality in my life. Yet simply banishing it in my own reality did little to eliminate it from the world.

Here I began to refine my craft, working with small businesses to help tell their story. Applying my skills and creative vision I saw how I could support them in sharing their own skills and vision with the world. I started to discover how I could translate their metaphysical visions into the physical realm through photographic and graphic mediums. 

Costa Rica

Costa Rica

The undeniable call to action

The work begins here. I mean the real work.

The ecological revolution work. The liberation work to free people from oppressive systems that deny them their basic needs as humans while also destroying our planet.  And what better country to begin my contribution, than in Costa Rica with its ecological richness and diverse cultural history. 

Along the way I had one important realization, that I should not reject my privilege, but instead use it to help enact change for those less privileged. To use my privilege to serve the greater good, rather than myself. To help create a world where that privilege no longer exists and we all have what we need while also restoring our precious ecosystems.

Creating a connection between people and place is what it all comes down to for us. We find there are many ways to create or amplify that connection, we use the tools of architecture, permaculture, photography, graphic design and creative communication to (re)establish those connections.

This is where the journey really begins. Who’s in?