The Hualien County Cultural Affairs Bureau last week approved the official designation of the Chihalaai rice terrace in Fuli Township (富里) and a Japanese-style wooden faculty dormitory that belonged to the Da Rong Elementary School in Fonglin Township (鳳林) as a cultural landscape and an historic building.
The Chihalaai terrace was granted the designation because it is of a type commonly seen in Taiwan’s earlier agricultural period and is of cultural significance as it is still being used, the bureau’s Cultural Heritage Evaluation Committee said.
The terrace follows the contours of the area’s coastal mountain range and is comprised of scores of small rice paddies that create a magnificent landscape of multi-layered terraces, the committee said.
It added that the irrigation channel that was excavated along the mountainside further demonstrates the traditional wisdom of local residents, who efficiently utilized regional landforms and natural resources.
The Japanese-style dormitory, located on a piece of government-owned land opposite Da Rong Elementary School, also received approval as a historic building, the committee said.
As the land is government-owned and categorized as “type B building land,” there were fears that the wooden faculty dormitory would be torn down.
The Fonglin Township Office therefore filed an application for a historic listing of the building to prevent this from happening.
Hualien County Cultural Affairs Bureau Director Wu Jin-shu (吳進書) said the evaluation committee believed the dormitory was part of a larger government project, the so-called “Japanese immigrant settlement,” which was constructed in the Japanese style during the Japanese colonial era.
The roof is composed of three different-sized Kiriduma dukuri-styled rooftops, or a gabled roof structure — an ancient Chinese architectural style that also spread to Japan, Korea and Vietnam, Wu said.
He added that the dormitory also incorporates different regional features and styles, and is of great value to Taiwan’s architectural history.
Meanwhile, an irrigation pond built by hand by a group of Hakka immigrants in 1954, in the county’s Guangfu Township (光復), failed to be granted a designation as a cultural landscape on account of an unsettled lawsuit, the committee said.
Translated by Stacy Hsu, Staff Writer