The Red House cultural centre is the second-oldest and the smallest of the three arts spaces. It is a group of compact and attractive red-brick buildings which is located right in the middle of bustling Ximen area.
The Red House was originally built in 1908, during the Japanese occupation of Taiwan – back then it was Taipei’s first public market. In 1945, after the Japanese left Taiwan, the influx of Chinese immigrants which came to Taiwan with the Kuomintang (Taiwan’s political history of the past 100 years is convoluted; read it up on Wikipedia) it was turned into a concert hall; with (Chinese) opera and musical performances. In the 1960s a film theatre opened in the Red House – actually, from the 1930s onwards Wuchang Street, which is directly behind the Red House, became known as “Cinema Street” because of the many movie theatres that opened along that street. Even today there is still a large number of cinemas near Wuchang Street.
In 2000 a part of the building complex was burned down and during the course of rebuilding, the Red House location was again used for cultural events. In 2007 the Taipei Culture Commission began to operate the Red House and in 2009 the Red House in turn took over the management of the Cinema Park close by. Cinema Park is a cultural and events space as well as a public park. There are all sorts of performances, events and concerts with a particular focus on youth and street culture.
Over the last years the Red House has played host to many cultural, creative and media festivals and events (incidentally, this particular area of Ximen is also a bit of a center for Taipei’s gay community). In 2010 a tea house opened in the foyer. In an adjoining part of the building the Creative Boutique features small stores which showcase the work of new and emerging local artists and designers. In yet another part of the building Taipei-based music organizer Riverside Live Music is putting on regular concerts (the venue is called Riverside Live House). And on the weekends there is an artist’s market which takes place in the courtyard area outside of the Red House.
The Red House is absolutely worth a visit and since it is based directly opposite one of the exits of Ximen MRT station (Blue Line), there really is no excuse not to go. Try one of the many different Oolong teas in the Tea House. You can get free refills of hot water, by the way.