Reviving the West District at the Historical North Gate
MOTIF: Mitsui Plaza has been the nexus of economy and traffic since the Japanese period. The convenience of traffic becomes the fabric of the city. As people become more aware of a walkable city, the historical coexistence of people and nature thus serves as the blueprint for future development. The West District is the origin of the Taipei City. With the demolition of the access ramp of Zhongxiao Bridge, the historical Norte Gate and Railway Museum are desegregated. The potential development of Special District E1 and E2 means the significance of linearity along Beiping West Road. The verandas of the old town Taipei will echo the tree-lined boulevard of the Mitsui Plaza. The pedestrians will find themselves walking on a historical trail. The new gateway threads together the Railway Station, Taipei Travel Plaza, and Mitsui Plaza, creating an outdoor living room for Taipei.
Pedestrian-friendly Urban Space
City is made of people. Economic development has become the basis of Taiwan. The good life is often forgotten. Urban space conceded to the cars. The building of the city should be for the well-beings of people and the value of their life. The future open space is a pedestrian-friendly, walkable place. The site is adjacent to the Chungxiao West Road. The convenience of the traffic means it is crowded and complex. The aim of the planning is to create a pedestrian-friendly pocket space in the traffic nexus.
Mitsui Plaza is located at the nuclear of the Taipei City. The central point of the east-west corridor. The three main axes of——the Taipei Corridor, the veranda of the Mitsui Warehouse, the Chungching North Road that terminate at the future Twin-tower——intersect on the plaza. The historical context is accentuated by the double-lined tree boulevard. The low-lying branches of the Formosan Sweet Gum create a natural green canopy. In response to the humid hot weather of Taiwan, the selection of the bushes focuses on the Poaceae family, exhibiting the nuanced texture between elegance and wildness, the location of the plaza outside the old city walls. The trees scatter on the plaza like music notes. The grid of the circular planters tells the historical memory like the main theme of a song, while the existing trees appear as variations that facilitate the spatial fluidity.
Pavement and Furniture Design
Since the Mitsui Warehouse preserves the existing red-brick facade, the paving of the plaza adopts the lower hues color of the impervious concrete block that form simple patterns. The subdued minimalism becomes the backdrop in contrast with the color of the historic building. In line with the concept of a sponge city, the paving adopts impervious material. All run-offs precipitate into the soil. On the other side to the plaza, the reflecting pool reflects the historical magnificence of the Mitsui Warehouse, while providing a multi-function use with the coolness to improve the microclimate. The street furniture defies the conventional image of a bench. The 45-cm-tall bench is ergonomically comfortable. The 70-cm-tall bench doubles as a table or a recliner.
The city exists here and now, smacked between the past and future. Lighting marks the trails of the past. The rapid cars rushing over time and the linear light in the city precipitates the tranquil air of the night. Different color temperature represents the exchange between Japanese Period and the Republic. Like the city after nightfall in the animation Spirited away, the space-time dialogue becomes visible to the visitors. The historical context transfigures into future stories.
Short Office name: MOTIF (Motif Planning & Design Consultants)
Role of the Office in the project: Planning & Design
Project location: No. 263, Sec. 1, Zhongxiao W. Rd., Zhongzheng Dist., Taipei City 100, Taiwan (R.O.C.)
Design year: 2018-2019
Year Built: 2018