Thu, Jun 14, 2018 - Page 8 News List

A good view is all about choosing the right color

By Lu Ching-fu 呂清夫

The street layout in Taiwan often lacks planning. Although the Taipei Urban Planning Commission is responsible for reviewing whether a building’s colors and appearance are in harmony with the surrounding environment, what it can do is very limited.

Media outlets have reported that the buildings in Keelung’s Zhengbin Fishing Harbor (正濱漁港) are being painted, as this is a rare occurrence in northern Taiwan.

Sixteen buildings have been painted and the harbor looks fresh, but perhaps the authorities should stop there. Since many buildings have not yet been painted, the newly painted ones stand out and the effectiveness of the project could be greatly diminished if all buildings were painted.

Before the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, the city required that residents near the airport paint the roofs of their houses so that arriving tourists would be met with a pretty view of the city. Naturally, the colors were carefully planned in advance.

I once visited Keelung’s Zhongzheng Park with an architect friend. As we looked down at the Port of Keelung, he said he felt that the city was a complete mess and suggested that city government provide free paint to all residents to paint their roofs white.

In 1914, famous Japanese painter Kokki Miyake was stunned when he entered Keelung. He said that the Port of Keelung was Taiwan’s main gate and it felt as if he were in a Western port.

He also said that the spectacular Keelung post office and the neatly lined brick houses in the streets made him feel that the city compared with Yokohama or Kobe.

The post office was an exquisite Baroque-style building and people used to sketch there when I was young. Unfortunately, the building was demolished in 1962.

Moreover, the old Keelung train station, a British-style brick building with a clock tower, on the other side of the port was once praised as “the most beautiful train station ever.”

Just like the German-style station in Hsinchu and the Taichung station that were built during the same period, the old Keelung train station was an elegant Renaissance building.

The train station and the post office in Keelung were the same colors as the red-and-white Presidential Office Building, and they looked particularly vivid against the blue sky and the indigo sea, so there was no need to paint them.

However, unlike the Hsinchu and Taichung stations, which have been maintained to this day, the old Keelung station was demolished in 1966 because it was too old. The new station is not taller than the old one and the ugly building is a permanent pain in the hearts of older residents.

Today, many people still wonder if the station will be restored to its original look someday — just like the old Xinbeitou station in Taipei, which was rebuilt in Beitou District’s (北投) Qixing Park.

The painting project at Zhengbin Fishing Harbor is raising hopes, and it has even been compared with painted houses around the world.

However, the painted houses by the beach in Kaohsiung’s Cijin District (旗津) in southern Taiwan are equally enchanting.

Looking down from the top of the Cihou Fort, the whole area looks like a beautiful Greek island, because most houses are painted in light, graceful colors.

Since bright and strong colors can make people feel anxious in hot weather, keeping it simple and elegant might be a better choice.

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