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Wed, Feb 28, 2001 - Page 2 News List

Artists want fair rules for competition

REDESIGN Local urban designers urged the Taipei City government to allow Taiwanese more access in a contest to redesign the plaza in front of the Presidential Office

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Students from National Taiwan University's Graduate Institute of Building and Planning protest outside the Presidential Office yesterday, posing as President Chen Shui-bian and Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou. The students say Chen and Ma are responsible for the rules of a competition to redesign the Presidential Office Plaza that are unfair to local designers.

PHOTO: CHEN CHENG-CHANG, TAIPEI TIMES

Urban design activists yesterday called on Taipei City Government to allow local designers and the public to participate in the international competition to redesign the plaza in front of the Presidential Office.

They also requested that the city change the judging criteria, which they said discriminates against local designers, and expressed their concern over the city's sincerity in carrying out the reconstruction project.

The city first invited public entries for the design of the plaza in 1996 when President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) was Taipei mayor. The plan eventually fell flat although 10 finalists were chosen.

"We'd just hate to see it messed up again," said Wu Wen-yu (吳文煜), spokesperson for the Capital Plaza Space Reform Front.

Wu made the request yesterday at a press conference outside the south gate of the 228 Memorial Park, which is adjacent to the Presidential Office.

The international contest, which kicked off on Dec. 19 last year, is a two-phase competition.

Five individuals will be chosen in the semi final stage to go on to compete with the 10 international designers invited by the city. These 10 designers will not have to compete in the contest, but rather are automatically entered in the final. The contest is open to both local and foreign designers.

The five semi finalists are scheduled to be announced on July 11, and the final winner is slated to be crowned on July 17.

As of yesterday, about 200 contestants had signed up for the competition, the deadline for which is June 29.

Wu, however, criticized the two-phase format as "discriminating."

"We'd like the city to modify the format to allow both local designers and the public to go head to head with [the 10] international designers," he said.

Wu also asked the city to make public the names of the panel judges, and add more detailed information on the history of the plaza in the instruction manual.

"What concerns us is that international designers, who are unfamiliar with Taiwan and the rich history of the plaza, might come up with poor designs simply because they're ignorant or ill-informed," he said.

Although the city has already received the central government's assurance that the latter will shoulder half of the construction costs, Wu requested that the city make public the exact amount of the budget earmarked for the project.

"It's a good idea to approve the budget before the competition winds up," he said.

Chiang Chih-cheng (江志成), head of the Planning Section (規劃股) of the city's Bureau of Urban Development (都發局), however, disagreed.

"It's a rather complicated project because it takes more than one stage to complete and the city and central governments are both involved," he said. "It's just impossible to know how much money to spend before the final design is decided."

Chiang also failed to specify when the construction project will begin. "There's no way to predict when we'll start [construction] because after the winner is decided in July, the design will go to the Cabinet and then the president before it goes on public display," he said.

During the one-month display, Chiang said, the public will be welcome to voice opinions regarding the selected design. Contributions from the public will then be integrated within the design and be sent back to the Presidential Office for final approval, he said.

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