by Jincy IypeMar 11, 2020
MVRDV recently completed the public space design transformation called Tainan Spring, in southern Taiwan, renewing the intended purpose of the abandoned China Town Mall built atop the old harbour, next to the Tainan Canal. The Netherlands- based architectural firm converted the former city-centre shopping mall into an ‘urban lagoon’, complete with a resplendent water body and verdant plantations that will soon turn into a lush jungle.
Commissioned by Tainan City Government’s Urban Development Bureau, Tainan Spring flushes the city of Tainan with its waterfront, and with nature at large. The project stands testament to circular design (a continued use of resources) by presenting a solution for unused urban areas, in tandem with protecting the site’s history.
The completed masterplan for Tainan Spring includes a new public square east of the Tainan Canal, an urban pool, improved public pathways, and traffic reduction along with a surplus of local greenery. The new public square forms a fresh landscape strategy, unifying the former China Town mall’s site and a kilometre-long stretch of the city’s Haian Road. “Tainan Spring shows what solutions are possible for unused shopping malls now that online shopping is supplanting physical stores,” explains the MVRDV team.
The new design sees a creative conversion of the historic mall’s underground parking level into a sunken public plaza, replete with a dazzling urban pool and local plants, and enveloped by a shadowed arcade. The public pool’s water level will vary according to the passing seasons, making it an ideal gathering spot throughout the year. The space also hosts a performance stage, playgrounds and seating areas, “while the artful deconstruction of the building’s concrete frame has left a number of follies that can in due course be converted to shops, kiosks, and other amenities,” shares the official press statement.
“In Tainan Spring, people can bathe in the overgrown remains of a shopping mall. Children will soon be swimming in the ruins of the past – how fantastic is that?” says Winy Maas, the founding partner of MVRDV. “Inspired by the history of the city, both the original jungle and the water were important sources of inspiration. Tainan is a very grey city. With the reintroduction of the jungle to every place that was possible, the city is reintegrating into the surrounding landscape. The reintroduction of greenery was an important thread in our master plan. We mixed local plant species so that they mimic the natural landscape east of Tainan. I think the city will benefit greatly from this.”
Haian Road’s renovation, which was finished last year, has visibly reduced traffic, and brought a new life to Tainan’s most vital streets. The different paving patterns accumulated over the years has been replaced with a single concrete tile surface, in tandem with planting abundant greens everywhere. Large ventilation shafts jutting into the public space have been painted a uniform colour to provide visual relief. The city then commisioned local artists to decorate these structures.
While the construction is complete, the entire masterplan is likely take around three years to be realised fully. Until then, the freshly planted flowerbeds and greens will imperceptibly grow into a lush Eden for the city of Tainan.
Name: Tainan Spring
Location: Tainan, Taiwan
Principal in charge: Winy Maas
Partner: Wenchian Shi, Jeroen Zuidgeest
Project coordinator: Hui-Hsin Liao
Design team: Hui-Hsin Liao, Angel Sanchez Navarro, Stephan Boon, Xiaoting Chen, Andrea Anselmo, Yi Chien Liao, Zuliandi Azli, Olivier Sobels, Dong Min Lee, Chi Yi Liao
Copyright: Winy Maas, Jacob van Rijs, Nathalie de Vries
Partners: Local architects - LLJ Architects, sustainability/landscape and urban designers - The Urbanists Collaborative, structural engineers consultant - Evergreat Associates , SE., Lighting designer - LHLD Lighting Design, MEP engineers - Frontier Tech Institute, General Contractor - Yong-Ji Construction co. Ltd.