Nanmen Market, a vital hub of commercial activity, is located in the heart of Taipei City. However, in stark contrast to the vibrant development of the modern economy, the pace of development of this traditional market has stalled, which has resulted in gradually aging premises and facilities. New development momentum was injected through the Nanmen Market Reconstruction Project paired with the organization of Lunar New Year marketing activities. The favorable location of the interim market has propelled the development of Rongjin Gorgeous Time Park, a new local attraction, into a tourist magnet. The reinvigorated cultural and commercial value of Nanmen Market clearly demonstrates the unlimited potential of capabilities of the private sector, which can be tapped for the repair and reactivation of cultural assets through public-private sector collaboration.
Vanguard event titled “Hundred Dumpling Feast” – Attractive Discounts for Mobile Payment Users
On the eve of the annual Dragonboat Festival, countless traditional rice dumpling varieties, including northern-style and southern-style, Huzhou, and red bean paste dumplings, are on display at the market to satisfy the culinary cravings of gourmets from all over the country. This explains why the Market is a must-visit hotspot for old Taipei residents during the Dragonboat Festival. In June 2023, the Nanmen Interim Market organized a grand event titled “Hundred Dumpling Feast” in keen anticipation of the imminent trial operation of the brand-new building. The Taipei mayor was invited to attend and witness the bustling and exciting atmosphere of this event, which was centered around the theme of “Sparking a Bright Future for Nanmen Market through a Lavish Rice Dumpling Banquet”. In addition, Nanmen Market has teamed up with Chang Hwa Bank in the launch of a Taiwan Pay promotional activity, including free tupperware bowls for purchases exceeding a certain amount and 2% rebates on all purchases. EasyCard users are eligible for 8% rebates on all purchases. These special offers for electronic payment methods allow consumers to take advantage of convenient and hygienic payment methods as they enjoy culinary delights during the Dragonboat Festival.
The Taipei City Market Administration Office has been actively promoting cashless payment methods since 2018. As of the end of December 2022, 7,137 booths of 48 public retail markets all over the city accept such payment methods, ushering in a new era of electronic payments at traditional markets. In addition, electronic payment services have also been made available in the interim market during the Nanmen Reconstruction Project period through the integration of Apple Pay, Google Pay, Taiwan Pay, and EasyCard payment into the “Nanmen Market diversified payment” interface. The goal is to accelerate the digital transformation of traditional market vendors.
Resurrection through the Adoption of Contemporary Aesthetics and Sustainable Design Concepts
The history of Nanmen Market can be traced back to 1907. It was initially known as “Chitose Market” before being renamed to “Nanmen Market” in 1946. It used to be a commercial center with an extensive variety of goods and one of the largest traditional markets in Taipei. However, in the wake of the rise of modern commerce, the pace of development of this traditional market has stalled, which has resulted in gradually aging premises and facilities. In the face of the challenges of this new era, the “Nanmen Building and Market Reconstruction Turnkey Project” has been initiated (trial operations are scheduled for the end of 2023). This project is expected to give rise to new opportunities for the development of this famous traditional market.
On the foundation of the core notion of “Pulse of Taipei”, “ecological, energy conservation, waste reduction, and health” concepts have been incorporated into the architectural design. The reconstruction project will give the building a brand-new, modernized look with a strong emphasis on customer flow inside the building and smooth linkages to external roads and public transportation networks. The building features five underground and twelve above-ground levels covering a total area of 46,570 m². The market will mainly occupy two underground and two above-ground levels. The remaining floors will be house office areas for Taipei City government agencies. The building is perfectly integrated with MRT Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall Station, the Xindian Line, and the MRT Wanda Line, which is nearing completion. A passageway that is preliminarily scheduled for completion in 2027. It will increase the convenience of inner-city traffic.
The transparent French windows create a visual highlight and generate a sense of permeability, drenching the indoor areas in natural sunlight and dispelling the sense of gloominess of the old market. The balconies have been ingeniously incorporated into the façade design with the goal of extending the aura of urban vitality to the top of the building. The spacious square on the ground level is conveniently linked to the development zone of the future MRT Wanda Line and the sidewalk of Section 1 of Roosevelt Road, which adds to the integrity of urban traffic flow networks. The new market building is also expected to cause crowds to congregate in surrounding areas, creating a brand-new landmark of urban lifestyles.
As far as spatial layout is concerned, the architectural design stresses the linkages between different floors and urban vistas and fully utilizes the abundant natural light from the north to create a bright and luminous market environment. The design not only aims to provide senior shoppers with a comfortable space for leisure and social interactions but also attracts a new, younger generation of customers. The exterior of the building features symbolic design elements such as a wide door at the intersection of Roosevelt Road and Nanhai Road, connoting a warm welcome to the city and human visitors and the bright prospect of future development of Zhongzheng District. The interior design retains the visual ambiance of the traditional market. A large French window has been installed on the north side of the second floor of the building to highlight the unique culinary delicacies of Nanmen and create a comfortable dining atmosphere. The general merchandise retail zone features a snack & rest area, which allows shoppers to take a rest and appreciate the street scenes and views.
In addition, the new building fully harnesses green building technologies to realize sustainability goals in numerous dimensions. Large trees have been planted on ground level to effectively mitigate the urban heat island effect. Open grilles and low-E glass reduce solar radiation, while the steel structure and light partition walls help decrease carbon emissions. Furthermore, fresh air intake vents and ventilation windows have been installed to channel fresh air into the building and discharge stale air from the interior. Green building materials, which account for 75% of all utilized materials, help to enhance indoor air quality and minimize potential health hazards posed by building materials.
The designers of the new building have demonstrated their commitment to environmental sustainability through hardware upgrades. An optimized, energy-saving building project has been realized with the aid of green building technologies paired with weather data and environmental simulation programs in line with international sustainability trends to infuse the city with new vitality.
Interim Market Sparks the Vibrancy of Commercial Districts and Turns “Rongjin Gorgeous Time Park” into a New Tourism Highlight
The Nanmen Interim Market not only drew steady crowds during the reconstruction period but also injected endless vitality into the commercial development of surrounding areas. The “Rongjin Gorgeous Time Park”, one of the hottest check-in spots in the city, is just a 10-minute walk from the market. The renovated old building and Japanese aura create a hip and rejuvenated ambiance that engulfs the whole neighborhood. The Yongkang Shopping District, which extends from the interim market to Jinhua Street and intersects with MRT Dongmen Station, forms a tightly knit urban network that fosters the vibrant development of emerging commercial districts.
In 1905, Taipei Keimusho (jail in Japanese), the forerunner of Taipei Prison, was established, which marks a historic milestone in Taipei penal administration. Famous members of the Taiwanese resistance movement against Japanese colonial rule, such as Loa Ho, Chiang Wei-shui, and Fukusei Ra, who later turned into a martyr, were once imprisoned here. In 1998, the official residence affiliated with the prison was designated a municipal monument to be preserved as a key cultural asset of the city. A fire in 2016 destroyed part of the building structure. In addition to making a determined effort to restore the building, the city government enlisted an external team of operators to create the “Rongjin Gorgeous Time” Community, which stresses participation and catering services for young and old as well as life services for seniors. After a restoration process that lasted over three years, the “Rongjin Gorgeous Time Park” area was officially opened to the public in September 2022. This park offers innovative and novel experiences to visitors of all age groups.
In 2013, the Taipei City Department of Cultural Affairs launched the “Old House Cultural Movement Plan”, which aims to repair and activate cultural assets by tapping the capabilities of the private sector. “Rongjin Gorgeous Time Park” is the 20th project in the context of this plan. It covers the widest area and is located in close vicinity of three MRT stations (Guting, Dongmen, and CKS Memorial Hall). The intriguing development potential of this park can mainly be attributed to its convenient and accessible location. The Department of Cultural Affairs is currently actively engaged in the planning of cultural assets in the neighboring “Wenluoding” area (the area centered around National Taiwan University (NTU) and demarcated by Wenzhou Street, Roosevelt Street, and Dingzhou Street) in cooperation with NTU. The ultimate goal is to preserve precious cultural assets hidden between urban high-rises and thereby maintain the cultural profundity of Taipei City.
“Rongjin Gorgeous Time Park”, a tranquil community infused with vitality, offers a living space for joint experiences by multiple generations. The restoration team has retained the original building and all trees. The ruin at the site of the fire has been converted into a transparent glasshouse to bring the vivid story of the building to life. An obstacle-free ramp way that gives visitors an opportunity to view the Taipei prison wall ruins from an elevated angle links the former official residence of the prison to nearby cultural assets. A newly established health center that serves as a bridge for exchanges between the healthcare sector and the local community offers diversified services in the fields of health maintenance, catering, and parent-child interactions to foster community engagement by all age groups and build a harmonious and culture-rich atmosphere. The park has evolved into a space for artistic and cultural activities for community residents who have also been enlisted to participate in the beautification of the park area enclosure in the context of the “Old House Cultural Movement Plan”. A work of art with unique colors was jointly created by all participants with the aid of improvements made by artists.
Taipei City Government treats the historical context of the city’s cultural assets in a prudent manner. In addition to its active engagement in the repair of monuments and historical sites, the city government openly solicits partnerships with the private sector to tap external resources for such activation projects with the ultimate goal of turning Taipei into an obstacle-free museum that can be freely explored by all citizens who wish to experience the diversified and abundant culture of the city.
The “Nanmen Building and Market Reconstruction Turnkey Project”, which symbolizes the convergence of tradition and modernity, infuses this old market with new life. It not only preserves urban memories through contemporary aesthetics and green building technologies but also realizes sustainable design concepts. The Nanmen Interim Market, which is a temporary site, fulfills key tasks in the fields of history & culture, environmental protection, spatial planning, and citizen services. It also propels the development of “Rongjin Gorgeous Time Park”, a new nearby attraction, and gives visitors a chance to experience a place with an immersive culture, thereby setting a perfect example of urban development. The renewal of Nanmen Market demonstrates the city’s determination to pursue sustainability and attract visitors to experience the unique history, culture, and vitality of Taipei. It also unlocks unlimited possibilities for the revitalization of surrounding areas.