This city has a very cool art and design scene! I knew next to nothing about Taipei (or Taiwan, for that matter) before I visited here, but the creative vein that runs through much of the urban lifestyle is very visible. In many stores you’ll find products and brands that emphasize Taiwanese design and manufacture and there is a strong reflection on the cultural and ethnic heritage of the island.
At the moment, for example, the city is hosting Pulima Art Festival 2014 which celebrates the cultural and musical diversity of Taiwan’s many Aboriginal tribes. I came across this festival when I was visiting Huashan 1914, the oldest of Taipei’s three major cultural & creative locations.
And this is really what the article is all about: a closer look at Taipei’s creative and design scene focusing on Huashan 1914, the Red House and Songshan Cultural & Creative Park. All three locations are former industrial sites which were transformed into lively (and very stylish!) cultural/art centres. I have split the article into three individual posts to improve readability. The first installment: Huashan 1914!
The Huashan complex was an abandoned wine factory which had originally been built in 1914. In 1997 the decaying factory location was discovered by an avantgarde theatre group, who restored some of the buildings and began staging plays and performances. In 1999 the non-profit Association of Culture Environment Reform Taiwan was established to oversee the further development of the Huashan factory space into a creative arts space. And in 2007, the Taiwan Cultural-Creative Development Co. Ltd. took over the management of the location.
The buildings were lovingly and carefully restored and now feature design and creative offices, arts and exhibition spaces, six different cafés and restaurants, arts, crafts and design stores, a yoga studio, a cinema venue and plenty of green spaces for open air events. According to what I’ve read, Huashan is funded not just by the city government but also by private companies. So there are many critical voices who (probably quite rightly) believe that the involvement of private companies inevitably means that a place is run to generate turnover rather than as a non-profit creative space.
And indeed, even to casual observers like me it is obvious that a lot of money has gone into the development of the Huashan complex. Every single aspect of the buildings, facilities and green spaces is stylish and beautifully designed; it is such an attractive location. There is even an ATM which sits right next to one of the cafés! It’s a great place to spend an afternoon; on the day that I was there were several events taking place – not just the Pulima/Urban Tribes festival but also the Taipei Art Photo show 2014, and the photo exhibition To Hong Kong with Love.
Huashan 1914 is located in Taipei’s Zhongzheng area. Take the MRT to Zhongxiao Xingsheng station (it’s on the Blue Line), take Exit 1 and walk for about ten minutes. You can’t miss it.