Imagine the ‘haunted’ Diplomat Hotel in Baguio—as an ethereal creative hub

Facebook: ARCH LICO
Facebook: ARCH LICO

It’s no secret that Baguio City has a thriving creative culture — named as a UNESCO Creative City in 2017, the northern city is home to a vibrant community of artists and artisans, amidst a rich cultural heritage of folk and contemporary art.

As Baguio continues to find ways to support the economic growth of its creative sector, the city council has apparently proposed turning the old Diplomat Hotel atop Dominican Hill into a creative hub — and plans for its conservation are underway.

As an artist’s hub, the Diplomat is envisioned to include a 90-seater auditorium, a lobby, galleries, workshops, artists’ studios, a library, cafe, and a rooftop viewing deck, according to ARCH LICO, a research-oriented design consultancy firm headed by Architect Gerard Lico that specializes in landmark and heritage conservation.

We know what you’re thinking: the Diplomat Hotel? Isn’t that haunted?

True, the local government will have its hands full in not just shedding off the hotel’s eerie image, but in rehabilitating the hotel — a historical landmark in its own right — and ensuring its structural and aesthetic integrity. Yet in reimagining the hotel as an artist’s hub, one architectural firm wants the Diplomat to embrace its otherworldly character.

“Owing to its history, the Diplomat Hotel, once known as the Dominican Retreat House carries a spiritual quality that is inseparable from the collective memory of the people. Its place in the popular imagination is that of mystical faded beauty, a romantically aged ruin”, the firm wrote.

ARCH LICO added, “Thus, it is sensible to retain and enhance this essential spiritual character, as well as, the ghost stories and urban legend in the process of adaptive reuse as an Artists Hub, thus, avoiding alienating the people who have grown to love the place.

“We interpret this spiritual quality around the concept of the ETHEREAL – delicate and light in a way that is too perfect for this world. This relates to the environmental locale of Baguio and the Cordilleras through the regular presence of the clouds and the fog.”
They added that only the most necessary interventions shall be made in order to respect its history while ensuring that the building is safe and responsive to current needs.

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