Historical building set for arts and culture overhaul

NEW LOOK: The former Taiwan Education Hall has been empty since the American Cultural Center moved premises; now it's set for a major renovation

By Chang Yun-Ping  /  STAFF REPORTER

Sun, Mar 02, 2003 - Page 2

The former Taiwan Education Hall, a designated historical heritage site and until recently home to the American Cultural Center, will be renovated into a cultural and arts performance complex as well as a historical museum, the Ministry of Education said yesterday.

The ministry, which owns the building, held a forum yesterday inviting architecture and cultural experts to discuss ways to make best use of the historical building located on Nanhai Road in Taipei City.

Ministry Vice Minister Fan Sun-lu (范巽綠) who presided over the discussion, said the renovation project would cost around NT$50 million in total and is expected to be completed by the end of next year.

"We hope to listen to as many opinions as possible to look into all the different social and educational functions the building could cater for, such as cultural exchanges, arts performances or historical teachings," Fan said.

The Taiwan Education Hall was built in 1931 during the Japanese colonization period and was used to deliver information about Japan and house exhibits from the country.

After 1945, the place was used to hold provincial assembly gatherings before being rented to the news center of the American Institute in Taipei in 1958.

In 1979 the hall became the American Cultural Center until November last year.

President of the National Culture and Arts Foundation Lin Mun-lee (林曼麗) yesterday said the building will "remain a landmark cultural and arts exchange platform in Taipei City."

"The renovations should allow for various cultural and arts purposes so that the design can match the needs of future cultural activities," Lin said.

Hsia Chu-joe (夏鑄九), a professor at the NTU's Graduate Institute of Building and Planning advised the ministry to be cautious of the conflicts between maintaining the original look of the building and changing its purpose.

"The two kinds of works are totally different in nature, as changing its purpose would involve changing the building's original structure and design of the original architect," Hsia said.

"The planning should be careful to avoid compromising the architecture's historical meaning," Hsia said.

Chou Kung-shin (周功鑫), chairman of the Graduate Institute of Museum Studies at Fu Jen Catholic University suggested the exhibition space of the hall be maintained.

Chou also recommended that the ministry outsource the management of the site to non-profit organizations.