December 05, 2013
Songshan Cultural and Creative Park
As I mentioned in a previous post, virtually all of the industries that built Taiwan have moved either overseas or to rural areas, and there is precious little evidence remaining of their existence. However, there a couple of areas in Taipei that have preserved the industrial shell while injecting new life. And this month, we bring you Songshan Cultural and Creative Park.
Opened in 2011, the Songshan Cultural and Creative Park was established with the aim of nurturing local arts rather than a commercial focus, although this probably doesn’t include the huge new Eslite building in the park. Nevertheless, this does seem to be the ethic behind recent developments and Taipei is all the better for it in my opinion.
So what’s the industrial link with this park, you ask. Well the park was a factory belonging to Taiwan Tobacco (under various different official titles) from 1937 to 1998. Unusually for the time, Songshan Tobacco Factory was designed to cater for the families of the workers as well as the workers themselves. This included courtyards and open spaces which are one of the attractions of the park today.
But as well as the open spaces, and perhaps more unusually for Taipei are the “old” buildings which were constructed from 1937 to 1940. As this was during the Japanese colonial period it is of no surprise that the buildings are described as being early Japanese modernism in style.
Although not as grand as the National Taiwan Museum, the buildings are of interest in part because there are few “old” buildings left in Taiwan. With World War 2, typhoons, earthquakes and urban development most of Taipei in particular is very modern indeed. So a brief stroll into the past is well worth the trip.
And so to modern day. The artistic side of the park includes exhibitions ranging from pottery to robots, and although entry to the park is free you may have to pay to enter the exhibitions. When we went there was an interesting display of ceramics from local artists which was free, and a Hello Kitty hands on kind of exhibition which cost a fair bit. This is a very popular place for photographers and painters as well which adds to the artistic feel. The Taiwan Design Museum is also located in the park.
Somewhat ironically given its past, smoking is not allowed anywhere in the park, and this is strictly enforced. Motorcycles, bikes, skate boards and scooters are also banned, so consequently this is a safe place to bring children. The open spaces allow for burning of energy, and there is an ecological pond next to which you can sit and enjoy a drink or ice cream. You can also borrow pushchairs from the Service Center.
You should plan on spending around an hour walking round, and if you get peckish there is a cafe and a restaurant. You can always bring your own food of course and have a picnic. There are some tables by the pond or you can sit on the grass.
If it gets too hot, then you can visit the large new Eslite building as I mentioned. At the time of writing there is an interesting ice cream counter in B1 with flavours all pertaining to Taiwanese fruits. There are various eating options and coffee and tea shops, interesting small stores, and a couple of areas with activities for children including making pottery and blowing glass. Okay, that last one might not be suitable for the kids, but they can at least watch.
Getting there is easy via public transport, and the address is 133 Guangfu South Road, Xinyi District, Taipei City (search your favourite map app for 台北市信義區光復南路133號). Full details can be found on the website: http://www.songshanculturalpark.org/en/index.html
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