Rustic Rendezvous: Café Ruins by DOCE Design + Build

Antique-based DOCE Design + Build reinvents a tired warehouse building into Café Ruins, a space for local art, culture, and community

Words and Images DOCE Design + Build
Editing Gabrielle de la Cruz

DOCE Design + Build - Kanto Spaces

Avenue for artistry and community

It all started when it was announced that VIVA ExCon (Visayas Islands Visual Arts Exhibition and Conference), the 17th edition of the longest-running artist-led biennale in Southeast Asia, will be held in Antique on November 2023. This year’s biennale is entitled “Suba Sa Iraya” (Return to Headwaters or Counterflow). The festival’s curatorial and management team chose to hold the biennale in the towns of San Jose de Buenavista and Sibalom. One of the chosen venues was the UMMMA Aldea Warehouse Compound, a place of historical significance and rustic character that sits at the junction of Sibalom. DOCE Design + Build was entrusted to revitalize the site-specific spaces within the warehouse compound and began the inner workings at Building 5.

Intersections of perception

The project brief was to revitalize the timeworn Building 5 into a café that doubles as a communal space, all while preserving the entrenched nuances of the ruins. The festival organizers envisioned a space that encourages connections between individuals, their artistic inclinations, and the built environment. The goal was to have a place of gathering that enables convergence between art, culture, and tradition of the locality and beyond.

Tangible translations

Instilling the collective considerations, our design intent sought to evoke spatial synergy of juxtaposition by integrating imprints of vernacular architecture into the existing concrete form. An open plan was designed as the main strategy to grant a continuous flow of human movement and perspective. The dining area was equipped with unconventional furniture set up to allow a laidback ambiance. The serving counter was substantially positioned on the right side of the building to provide the attendants with a full view of the dining experience. Outdoor seating arrangements were also provided to create an extensive space for gatherings. In addition to the renovated restroom, two other public toilets were built at the rear of the building to accommodate a larger crowd.

Sentient spaces

Enriched by the endemic vegetation of its surroundings, Café Ruins sits harmoniously within the regional landscape. The unyielding beauty of concrete remnants and tarnished corrugated sheets concur with the well-grounded strength of the resilient bamboo and reclaimed wood. The perceptive orientation of the building also allows a theatric interplay of light and shadows. Paying homage to VIVA ExCon Antique’s theme, DOCE Design + Build’s architectural rendition of Aldecro Warehouse Collective is an echo of the relentless character of a river to connect communities beyond their philosophies and topographies. It emphasizes the notion that our roots bind us with nature, embracing the journey from an essential past toward a transcending future.

Project Information

Location: Barangay Odiong, Sibalom, Antique
Lot area: 24688.06 sqm (2.5 hectares)
Gross floor area: 139.67 sqm (0.57% site occupancy)
Design phase: Two weeks
Retrofitting duration: Two months
Project completion: November 3, 2023

Project Team

Paul Nesmar Luces
John Rex Galedo
Jaiza Valera-Laude
Ma. Phoebe de los Santos
Rodney Justiniano

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