Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Great article on Old Buildings in Taiwan

Mutant Frog led me to this great article on old buildings in Taiwan.

During the onsen's construction, Japan invaded China after the Marco Polo Bridge Incident of 1937. The Japanese authorities urged Taiwanese to use bricks in camouflage colors to hinder air raids. These colors--light green, beige, and brown--were often used from the late 1920s through the early 1940s. A kiln in Peitou specially produced bricks of these colors, known as "13-channel bricks" for their rippled surface, designed to reduce buildings' visibility to enemy aircraft by reducing the bricks' reflectiveness.

Representative buildings from that period include Taipei City Hall (now Zhongshan Hall), Taipei High School (now National Taiwan Normal University), and Taipei Imperial University (now National Taiwan University). Those buildings were all the work of Ide Kaoru, the influential chief architect of the Governor-General's Office who advocated "localization" of Taiwan's architecture. As the Governor-General Onsen was built with the same sort of green 13-channel bricks as the Taipei City Hall, which was completed in 1936 and was also a public building, it is assumed that Ide had a hand in its design.

It's a crying shame that so many Japanese-period buildings, especially old wooden houses, are rotting in city centers all over Taiwan.


Jason said...

Michael, there's a FANTASTIC book on Taiwanese architecture called 古蹟入門 by 李乾朗 published by 遠流 books. Cut-away pics of famous old buildings and a detailed breakdown of individual architectural styles around the country. I highly recommend it.

Roy Berman said...

I so agree. I don't think I've seen a single authentic old wooden in good condition in Taipei since I got here. It's really disgusting that none of them have been preserved- the few that people actually still live in are basically nothing but shacks with hideous sheet metal reinforcing the semi-collapsed walls.