Taiwan's Taichung Cultural Heritage Park takes on new mission

The Cultural Heritage Park is one of five national-level cultural and creative facilities

Cultural Heritage Park in Taichung, a beautifully restored liquor factory showcasing art, history and design (Image: Chen Mei-ling)

Cultural Heritage Park in Taichung, a beautifully restored liquor factory showcasing art, history and design (Image: Chen Mei-ling)

TAICHUNG (Taiwan Today) -- A century ago it was a Japanese distillery but today the 5.6-hectare factory complex is one of Taiwan’s most dynamic cultural centers, offering a melange of art, educational, entertainment and historical attractions within a relaxing landscape.

The Cultural Heritage Park, one of five national-level cultural and creative facilities, is located in the downtown area of central Taiwan’s Taichung City. It started life in 1916 as a liquor factory during Japanese colonial rule (1895-1945) and was taken over by the Taiwan Tobacco and Wine Monopoly Bureau after World War II, now incorporated and renamed Taiwan Tobacco and Liquor Corp. It carried on brewing until 1998, at which point environmental and urban redevelopment considerations saw alcohol production relocated away from the site.

It lay idle for the next nine years, although the city government was aware of the site’s value and designated 16 of its 28 buildings as historic structures in 2002. Redevelopment work began in 2007, when the Ministry of Culture took over the complex and it was opened two years later as Taichung Cultural and Creative Industries Park. In August it got a new name, Cultural Heritage Park, and a new mission to focus on heritage restoration.

More than half of the park’s 28 buildings are listed as historic structures by the local government. (Staff photo/Chen Mei-ling)

The CHP “aims to preserve and promote the nation’s tangible and intangible heritage, as well as propel cultural and creative industry development,” said Yang Hong-hsiang, deputy director of park operations. “We provide diverse spaces and services for artists and visitors, while also staging some of the nation’s most important cultural activities.”

On any given day, visitors can enjoy a variety of activities like bazaars, exhibitions, lectures, performances and workshops. In addition to art studios offering handcrafted products and do-it-yourself classes, the site boasts an array of dining options as well as a museum highlighting vintage distillery equipment and the history of alcohol production in the area.

Ceramics and pottery are just some of the diverse products by resident artists on display at CHP’s exhibition space and store. (Staff photo/Chen Mei-ling)

More than 45 individuals and groups operate workshops at the complex in areas spanning ceramics, leatherworking, metalworking, performing arts, photography, product design and woodcarving. The site also frequently hosts free activities ranging from folk performances to augmented reality and virtual reality showcases.

CHP regularly stages folk culture events such as temple parades. (Courtesy of CHP)

Taiwan Design Expo, one of Taiwan’s top cultural and creative industry events, will be taking place at the facility from Aug. 15 to Sept. 16. Co-organized by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Taichung City Government, hundreds of companies and professionals from home and abroad are expected to descend on the park. The theme is Future Beyond Imagination with exhibits encompassing digital technology, smart materials and urban design.