What sort of vibe and imagery would we get if we place a contemporary café into a nearly eighty-year-old warehouse?
Jutian, Pingtung was once called “Dùnwù”（storing） due to the amount of rice mills around the area. The Dexing Rice Mill is particularly important because of its historical significance, its mural paintings, and the trace of the traditional rice milling work. The long abandoned building had been aging badly due to the lack of government funding, but has now received a second life with its new private owner. The idea is to modify the old warehouse into a mixed-use space with gallery and café. This allows memories to be well preserved while revitalizing the building for it to sustain itself. Due to its critical location and historical context, the restoration project is more than just the repairing of the building. It is the revival of a local cultural inheritance.
Based on the spatial requirement and budget, we proposed a box-in-box concept instead of restoring it to its original state. We displayed our design proposal within the warehouse and welcomed the local community’s feedbacks. The idea is to preserve the historical context within the space along with its steel structures and brick walls while inserting a new mass to create a dialogue between the old and the new.
The double inclined roof is a response to the traditional warehouse. The entrance is intentionally detached and setback from the main massing to allow lighting to pour in and become a negative space. It also creates a visual transparency to the second warehouse at the back.
This new addition has a separate structural system allowing easy adaptation to any future restoration. With the old and the new space separated from each other, the building would have more layers of negative and positive spaces, which allow us to create interstitial spaces with lighting, vegetation, and pebbles. The reflections of old brick walls on the modern glass frame and the circulation path woven by the old and new structures create a new kind of scenery with layers of history, modernity, and nature in it.