Displaying Taiwan’s Design Prowess through the Charms of Kaohsiung

09/06/2022 04:02 PM
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Two major design events “Creative Expo Taiwan” and “Taiwan Design Expo,” the former was held and the latter will be held in Kaohsiung, with a wide array of events under the theme of “twdesign.tw” to be held over the next few months. Through creative revitalization, six historic sites, including the Red Brick House, have been injected with a new lease on life, allowing the public to appreciate the contemporary design and architectural aesthetics as well as look back on historical memories.

The six historic sites are in Hamasen, the most prosperous area which was regarded as the main political and financial district of Kaohsiung during the Japanese colonial period. Some of the old town’s streets and houses still retain their original appearances, bursting with extra warmth, old-world charm, and stories. The exterior wall of the Red Brick House is made of fair-faced bricks; the arc parapet is highlighted with the morning sun rays, which have been recovered to show the distinctive feature of the building as in the Showa period. After World War II, the City Government exercised its prerogative under the Cultural Asset Preservation Act to purchase the Red Brick House to preserve valuable cultural assets.

The Former Patriotic Women’s Association Hall, which is eight minutes walk away from Red Brick House, was previously utilized by the Kaohsiung Women's Association as a place for women’s gatherings. It was later converted into an important venue used for charity and other social welfare events and was also the site of the Kaohsiung Harbor Exhibition in 1931. With the theme of contemporary women’s art, the exhibition demonstrates the artistic prowess of Kaohsiung and pays homage to history while creating art.

Moving towards the harbor, the Kaohsiung Harbor History Museum, also known as “Red House,” which is located at Pier 3 of Kaohsiung Penglai Commercial Port District, is a two-story British building with red brick exteriors. It once served as the office for government-related agencies including the Customs and Duties Office, and Harbor Affairs Bureau, playing a critical role in many aspects such as taxation, maritime affairs, and more. The building itself presents a microcosm of the development stages of the port and offers a glimpse into the century-old history.

For railway enthusiasts, the Northern Signal Tower of Kaohsiung Port Station, which is recognized as an important railway cultural asset, is a must-visit attraction as it is the last remaining building in Taiwan that has a completely preserved interlocking device and functioning switches.

In addition to the rich history of culture, life, port affairs and railways, the Hamasen Trader Building was previously an upscale hotel called “Haruta Kwan,” situated in front of Takao Station during the Japanese era. Due to its prime location, the Sanhe Bank, Commercial and Industrial Bank, and Shanxing House set up their branch offices one after another, giving this area the reputation of “the first financial street,” turning into a popular attraction visited by political and business celebrities.

Finally, Syongjhen North Gate, located near the National Sun Yat-sen University, has served various purposes since its completion in 1876 as a military site, a recreation ground for staff of the Railway Division of Taiwan Governor-General's Bureau of Transportation, a workplace of the Kaohsiung Port, and a signal tower. In 2016, it was selected to undergo restoration as part of the Hamasen Restoration Project, an initiative funded by the Ministry of Culture.

The six historic sites are reopened to the public with a new focus on design. People from home and abroad are welcome to visit and gain a better understanding on the process of development and transformation of Kaohsiung Port from post-war devastation to modernization, and travel back in time to see the evolvement of Kaohsiung over the past century. (Kaohsiung City Government Advertisement)

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