Every country that has been prosperous has discovered the challenge in finding a balance between its roots and its progress, its history and its future. Taiwan is home to one of the most ancient cultures on the planet, one that it has managed to survive alongside people striving to keep pace with a growing global economy with strong western influence. As a country, Taiwan works well and its culture can be breathed in temple ceremonies, in gastronomy, or in relating to a passer-by as one enjoys the Taiwanese people’s characteristic friendliness.
In Taiwan however, its architecture is mostly thought of in the utilitarian and economic sense. This has worked whilst Taiwan played the role of manufacturer of products designed abroad where the important thing was to be fast, cheap and useful. But after the departure of many factories abroad, now Taiwan is in a very different situation and aspects such as the authentic, the original or the experience should become more relevant. A design and architecture that goes beyond utility and induces the way of understanding and observing the world of its people can play an essential role in the development of its identity and its position on the international map.
The Xiafu Activity Center is located directly adjacent to the Hongfu-Gong Temple, the soul and meeting place of the people of Xiafu. The temple’s ornate sweeping roofs are full of symbolism for the Taiwanese people, bursting with a broad spectrum of unique and characteristic colors sit in stark contrast to a grey industrial background – remnants of Taiwan’s industrial past.
The design of the Xiafu Activity-Center was derived from no more than interpreting this rich Taiwanese cultural language by making it experiential and relevant for a growingly globalized public. It embraces the vibrant, chromatic spectrum of traditional temples with their sequences of colors, putting them within reach to become part of the ground level spatial feeling and experience. The Activity Center supports activities that are not only developed in the interior where everything is measured and controlled, but also with the different spatial conditions in the semi-exterior and exterior spaces that make it possible to generate other kinds of situations where culture can be interpreted, transferred and enjoyed. It serves as a multi-generational intersection for young people to interact and connect with tradition to encourage the positive transformation and enhancement of local culture, serving as proof that traditional design can be made relevant to the next generation. Xiafu demonstrates that in a landscape dominated by fast, economical, utilitarian architecture where cultural considerations are left as superfluous and thus are diminished, architecture can fulfil more than just a utilitarian function. It can stand as an example of how Taiwan's rich cultural past can still inform the next generation of architecture to give it much needed cultural relevance and placeness. It can enhance and contribute to the positive development of a unique cultural identity and the subsequent vitally important unique perspectives that it produces.
Team Members – IMO: Chen Weiching, Urdaneta Zeberio, Atelier Boronski, Lain Satrustegui, Sheng-Chieh Chen , Jon Saenz del Castillo, Javier Milara. JC Cheng & Associates, Architects & Planners : Daniel Cheng, Huang Yi-Chan, Liao Wei-Chen, Tai Kan-Yun, Hsu Hsuanewi, Lin Yu-Hsun, Wu Sheng-Yu, Tsai Yao-Cheng Structure Engineer: Envision Engineering Consultant MEP: Ye Jun-Liang Engineering Consultant