Sitting on a 4.5-hectare piece of land valued at US$1.3 billion, Huashan 1914 Creative Park is an oasis in the middle of Taipei. A sake distillery during the Japanese occupation, it was built in 1914 and named after the first Japanese governor-general of Taiwan. Rediscovered in 1997, the abandoned premises have gone through several changes, from a venue for experimental performances and galleries for artists to, today, an arts center filled with artists’ studios, galleries, bookshops, installation spaces, performance venues, and dining places.
Visitors throng through the park to participate in cultural and creative activities as well as to appreciate the Japanese colonial-era industrial architecture. So far, Huashan 1914 has hosted several big events, including Taiwan Designers’ Week (with participation from more than 350 local designers), Living Arts Festival, Simple Life Music Festival, and BiBo Student Design Expo. The renowned National Palace Museum has also taken up exhibition space for various digital art pieces, appropriately named NPM Digital.
“The vision is to create a link between creative-cultural activities and publishing,” says Jung-wen Wang, publisher and CEO of Yuan-Liou, who successfully bid for a 15-year license to operate the park through his umbrella organization, Taiwan Cultural-Creative Development Co. Ltd., in 2007. Wang describes his vision: “Activities held at the park—for instance, tea-making workshops, furniture design exhibitions, Chinese opera performances—can become the subject matter for publications. You can produce a coffee-table book on the tea-making ceremony or write a novel inspired by an opera performance. At the same time, authors and illustrators can present their works at the park and get new ideas through their interaction with the audience. This park is an incubation center and showcase arena. I firmly believe that Huashan 1914 will expand our culture and creativity beyond its normal spheres. It will enrich every Taiwanese’s life directly and indirectly.”