Location: Taitung, Taiwan
Site Area: 3,000 m2
Building Area: 1,000 m2
The site encompass a city block in downtown Taitung. The municipal government wanted to position the site as an anchor to a new commercial precinct. The idea to offer a commercial venue with a single tenant was rejected, not wishing to place a shopping mall with in the heart of the city. A strategy of a cluster of buildings that nestles among mature trees on site was proposed. The proposal looked to the history of the site for inspiration.
Originally six wooden houses built for faculty members occupied the site during the Japanese Occupation in the 1930's. Each house had its own garden with trees and vegetation within a walled compound. The original plan to savage the wood houses proved unrealistic. In the end the decision was to demolish all the wooden structures and salvage as much of the original as possible. These would be used to re-assemble one house in the traditional manner as a museum. With the demolition of the existing buildings, it became clear that what was left standing, i.e. the magnificent tress, were the true original 'inhabitants' of the site.
The strategy was to design a series of low walls that would enclose the trees in a spatial relationship similar but different from the wooden houses compounds. The walls would form gardens with trees as the prominent feature. Architecture would grow from the low walls to further re-enforce edges of the gardens, being careful and mindful to the scale and proportion of the trees. In the end, we designed five buildings of varies sizes to fit within the gardens and the trees. Each would be equipped to allow it to function as a restaurant or an art gallery. Each acts like a grand 'room' that during good weather could open completely to the outdoor gardens, allowing a continuous flow from inside to outside. ©copyright HO + HOU Studio Architects