Monday, February 10, 2014

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Taipei Twin Towers Project, Taiwan

2/10/2014 Taiwan Explorer
One of the construction projects in Taipei that I am following closely and with high interest is the future Gate of Taipei, that will completely reimagine Taipei's old center, and shift the focus back to the West where it once was. And this project doesn't only include the highly anticipated high-rise twin towers, the whole surrounding area will be revitalized and turned into a green belt, something that this part of the city definitely needs. Today I want to update you on the current situation, and explain what's going on in the key areas. Last weekend I went out and explored the area between the Main Station and the Tamsui river, which is currently the most busy part of the whole project. Most of the work is being done underground, where the Beimen MRT Station and the terminal station of the Toayuan Airport Express are being built. But there is more than just that. Read on to find out.


THE KEY AREAS OF THE PROJECT

The main idea behind this article is to simplify this complex project for my readers, and update those interested in what is going on in this part of the city. According to Japanese architect Fuhimiko Maki, who won the bid in 2005, this is how the key areas are divided (the areas 4, 5 and 7 use my own phrasing, 1, 2, 3 and 6 are the architect's):

Click image to enlarge: 1 RECREATION ZONE • 2 CONVENTION ZONE • 3 MEMORY ZONE • 4 TWIN TOWERS • 5 BEIMEN AREA • 6 GATEWAY PARK • 7 PARK

In order to have a better overview, let's check each area on its own and see what is currently happening. Let's start from the west and move eastwards.

1 RECREATION ZONE

• Yuquan park 玉泉公園

This small park is already a few years old, because it's already visible on an areal photo from 2005 (see below). It's located at the southernmost tip of Datong, squeezed between the Tamsui river, Ximending and northern Zhongzheng. Very few people are aware of it, in fact even I haven't been here before. The park mostly serves as a retreat for the local residents, but when the Taipei Twin Tower project is finished, it will be a nice bridge between the Main Station and the riverside area and central Datong.

PHOTOS DATE: February 2014

You can see Shin Kong Life Tower from here.

The apartment block at the back belongs to Wanhua.

There are swimming pools inside, even heated.

2 CONVENTION ZONE

• Taiwan Railway Beimen dormitories 北門台鐵官舍區

The future convention zone is planned to be located at the former Taiwan Railways Beimen dormitories, that date back to Japanese times. This small neighborhood is today in decay. Thick trees and bushes have taken over for the most part, while the old wooden Japanese houses are mostly falling apart (click on the image on the left to enlarge). Read my post to learn about the history of this part of Taipei>>

This photo by Taipei Walker dates back to 2005. Compare it to my image above which is from 2013. Do you see how thick the trees have become in less than a decade?

PHOTOS DATE: February 2014

This is Zhengzhou Road, the main road in this neighborhood.

People like to use it as a shortcut from Wanhua to Datong.

This appears to be the biggest house in the area.

A side lane shows the current condition.

This is taken from another side.

Nature won, but not for too long.

This is Tacheng Street, where the future Beimen MRT Station is being built.

3 MEMORY ZONE

• Taipei Workshop 臺北工場
• Old Ministry of Railways 臺灣總督府交通局鐵道部
• Beimen MRT Station 北門站

This part of Taipei is historically very significant. It dates back to late Qing and the beginnings of railways in Taiwan. Due to the construction of Beimen MRT Station, no works have been done on the surface yet, the old Taipei Workshop from 1915 has been moved in order to avoid damage, while the Old Ministry of Railways building from 1919 is completely hidden behind a protective construction. When these two buildings will be renovated and revealed is not known to me, but I hope soon.

PHOTO DATE: January 2013

This photo shows what's hidden behind these protective boxes (click to enlarge).

PHOTOS DATE: February 2014

This is the backyard of the Old Ministry of Railways.

This is taken on the Yanping North Road Section 1.

I took a photo over the fence and saw in what condition the building is right now.

The main facade is not easy to capture.

The bricks don't look like they're in need of renovation.

4 TWIN TOWERS AND STATION

• Gate of Taipei Tower C1 台北雙子星C1, 241.5m
• Gate of Taipei Tower D1 台北雙子星D1, 320.7m
• Taoyuan Intl. Airport MRT Taipei Main Station 桃園國際機場捷運台北車站

The construction of Taipei Twin Towers, the city's much anticipated landmarks, have been delayed due to corruption and illegal activity in the original bidding process. Currently it's said that the smaller tower C1 (56 floors, 241.5m) will be completed in 2017 and the taller one D1 (76 floors, 320.7m) in 2018. The future terminal station of the Taoyuan Intl. Airport MRT (named Taipei Main Station), which will be underneath tower C1, is scheduled to start operation by the end of 2015.

This photo shows what the future Twin Towers will used for.

PHOTO DATE: November 2012

This photo shows how the construction was still in initial phase

PHOTO DATE: January 2013

A view from Shin Kong Life Tower.

PHOTO DATE: February 2014

This is the same building from a week ago. It looks like they're working on the interior part.

This is the part where the bigger tower D1 is supposed to stand.

5 BEIMEN AREA

• Beimen Post Office 臺北北門郵局
• Beimen 北門

Taipei's North Gate a.k.a. Beimen is one of the city's most important historic buildings, but it's currently trapped between a busy intersection and an ugly overpass. In the future the gate is supposed to shine at the end of a pedestrian area, and the main road will be directed to a tunnel underneath. The Beimen Post Office opposite the gate was recently renovated. Check how it used to look in 2010, when I blogged about it, and compare it to the photos below, which I took a week ago.

PHOTOS DATE: February 2014

This photo shows Beimen's current unfortunate situation.

A detail on the facade of the recently renovated Beimen Post Office.

A look from under the overpass.

The Post Office as seen from the Yanping North Road.

6 GATEWAY PARK

Nothing has been done so far.

7 PARK

I haven't visited the site this year.

VIDEO

This video shows how the whole area supposed to look one day.

IN CONCLUSION

This post will be updated later this year as I revisit these spots and make new photos, and I will probably write some separate posts on certain buildings and link to them. Bookmark this page and come back from time to time to see, if anything new has been added.