Rotterdam, Netherlands–based firm MVRDV announced that their project "Tainan Axis" has won a competition to transform a run-down public mall in Taiwan's capital, in collaboration with Honolulu-based design firm The Urban Collaborative and local studio LLJ Architects, in Taipei, Taiwan. The Tainan City Government has tapped the firms to transform the China-Town Mall, built in 1983, next to the New Tainan Canal—a major hub for the region's marine and fishing industry. Constructed under the urban plan devised by Japanese governance, the mall now stands as an eyesore that fails to connect the local markets to the consumers located inland.
The goal of the project is to revitalize both the mall and the neighboring thoroughfare, which is commonly referred as the “T-Axis” for its relationship between the two environments. The first phase of construction will include deconstructing the existing edifice, leaving only the exposed structural components to build on for the new public square.
The project team's vision includes elevated walkways over a sunken lagoon that will have plentiful, built-in green space and a public pool, to create a clear connection to the city’s waterfront. Parts of the former structure, such as concrete columns, will remain within the public swimming area. Below the pedestrian paths will be rows of shops and playgrounds with a steel bridge linking the two sides.
To manage traffic within the area, a reconfigured route for cars will be implemented that aims to slow down the speed at which they can travel. Wayfinding will be supplemented by several objects along the road, which will include the building's old ventilation shafts, elevators, and entrances that led to the former parking garage structure, wrapped in a new sheath of glass, along with other kiosks and viewing towers, acting as “lanterns” after dark. In the evening, the roads will be shut off to vehicles, making it pedestrian-only, and allowing cafes and shops to utilize the public spaces.
Construction for the new urban space is expected to begin within the next year.