Taiwan is an island (a fact that a surprising amount of people don’t know) and at times living and working in Taipei seems like being cut off from the rest of the global design, fashion, culinary (and on) conversation. Cultural trends reach us much later than the neighboring cities of Hong Kong, Shanghai, Seoul, Tokyo.
It also feels like nothing really ever changes here – store fronts may come and go at an alarmingly rapid rate, but in general the ones that pop-up to replace them revolve around hte same concepts. A friend recently noted that Taiwan had a 差不多 (cha bu duo) attitude – literally translated as “just enough”. Whether it applies to serving drinks at a bar, or opening your own design studio, the 差不多 attitude is a general air of doing the bare minimum to keep moving forward; but not really striving for excellence, mastery or perfection. As much as I adore this city, I have to admit that this general attitude is easily observable – from macro to micro aspects. Taipei was the only city to submit a bid to be World Design Capital for 2016 – not a surprise that it was chosen, and in light of recent criticism (see: Taipei’s Red Dot Design Museum fiasco), I’m curious to see what next year will bring for us. Construction is booming. Major architects are announcing project after project in Taiwan – mostly in culture (museums, etc) and leisure. It certainly seems that more is happening (or being covered in English media outlets, no less) than ever before. Coverage has long centered on Toyo Ito’s Taichung Metropolitan Opera House & the Taipei Performing Arts Center (OMA) – but there is much more happening: here’s a rough round-up (by no means comprehensive) of developments I’ve found interesting.
• Zaha Hadid: Won the competition to design the Danjiang Bridge, a 920m structure stretching across the Tamsui River, and billed as “the world’s largest asymmetric cable-stayed bridge with a single tower”
• Richard Meier & Partners: The CDC Xin-yi Residential Tower, slated for completion in 2017
• The Taipei Performing Arts Center (Koolhaas, Gianotten, Scheeren) or OMA: currently under construction
• Reiser & Umemoto: Taipei Pop Music Center – designed to encourage production – as well as performances – of Taiwanese music; will include a leisure complex and a Hall of Fame museum; due for completion in 2016.
Taipei Pop Music Center (Top) ChiaPaoSan Necropolis (Bottom)
• New Taipei Museum of Art
• National Museum of Marine Science and Technology (Keelung)
• ChinPaoSan Necropolis by Steven Holl Architects
• Kengo Kuma & Associates: Nantou Zen Resort Project – a resort complex dedicated to the education of Zen philosophy, in Caotun, Nantou.
• Mole, Gianni Botsford Architects: Hsinchu Stone Village – A hillside resort that will feature serviced apartments and luxury villas.
Nantou Zen Resort (Top) Hsinchu Stone Village (Bottom)
• Richard Meier & Partners: Taichung Condominium Structure – already under construction; slated for completion in 2018.
• Toyo Ito & Associates: Taichung Metropolitan Opera House – has been in development for over nine years, construction currently underway.
Taichung Condominium Tower (Top), Hualien Residences (Bottom)
• BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group): Hualien Residences, a beach resort planned for Taiwan’s eastern coast will find a balance between “nature and the built environment” – featuring “green roofs” to mediate heat, harvest rainwater, and more.
Wei Wu Ying Centre for the Arts
• Mayu Architects: Dadong Arts Centre – eleven huge funnels are the key feature in this semi-outdoor arts space.
• Reiser + Umemoto: Kaohsiung Port Terminal – construction currently underway, expected completion 2016.
• Mecanoo: Wei Wu Ying Centre for the Arts – upon its completion, it will be one of the largest theatre complexes in the world.