A meeting yesterday of the Taipei Cultural Assets Review Committee was stymied as committee members sparred over the fate of the Mitsui Warehouse, which dates back to the nation’s Japanese colonial era.
The city’s Urban Planning Commission has proposed to move the warehouse 51m east to make space for a project aimed at improving traffic flow near the North Gate (北門) on Zhongxiao W Road.
Yesterday’s meeting, the third of its kind on the fate of the Mitsui Warehouse, saw more intense debate from committee members compared with one held last week, with two members voting for the relocation of the building, two voting against it, and two abstaining.
Photo: Chung Hung-liang, Taipei Times
However, an understanding of the warehouse’s history, which was designated a historic building by the Taipei City Government in 2012, was sorely missing among the committee members — a situation that had not improved since last week’s meeting.
National Taipei University of Technology architecture professor Chang Kun-chen (張崑振) was the only committee member who expounded on what he said was the warehouse’s “real identity.”
Chang said that the warehouse was used to house the premises of a Japanese courier who was Mitsui-Soko’s exclusive freight-fowarder.
It is therefore inaccurate to call the building the Mitsui Warehouse, even though it bears Mitsui-Soko’s logo, Chang said.
Meanwhile, Taipei Department of Transportation division chief Huang Hui-ju (黃惠茹) said that the relocation project proposed by the city government was the most ideal.
The plan involves moving the warehouse 51m east so that two four-lane roads can be built north of the North Gate on Zhongxiao W Road, Huang said.
She said that compared with two other proposals under review, which would see the warehouse enveloped by two roads, the proposed relocation would grant people more access to the building on Zhongxiao W Road via Boai Road.
It would create more pedestrian space around the North Gate, Huang said, adding that separating the buildings with roads would be a more faithful rendition of the road plan in the Japanese colonial era, as a three-lane road built by the Japanese previously separated the two buildings.
Meanwhile, Chang said that he favors a plan that would retain the warehouse at its current site.
The plan espoused by Chang would see the warehouse enveloped, leaving a space of just 0.09m between one of its corners and a proposed road, which Huang said would threaten road safety.
Chang said that a perceived decrease in the warehouse’s accessibility could be resolved by installing a traffic light to attract visitors to the warehouse.
Taipei Deputy Mayor Teng Chia-chi (鄧家基), who chaired the meeting, summed up the arguments after three hours of fruitless discussion, prompting Chung Yuan Christian University architecture professor and committee member Horigome Kenji to ask: “Excuse me if I did not quite understand you. So what are the conclusions today?”
Teng said that the committee must reach an agreement in a meeting next week after its members deliberate over the three options.
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