With the advent of typhoon season, the Affiliated Senior High School of the National University of Tainan is reinforcing the structures of its nearly 80-year-old Japanese-style dormitories and taking the opportunity to invite academics to plan the future development of the dorms.
According to school officials, the dorms are an integral part of the school’s history and hold great historic and cultural value, but due to years of neglect, parts of the buildings fell into disrepair and others were in desperate need of emergency repairs.
Lin Wei-hsu (林韋旭) of the Tainan City Government’s Cultural Heritage Section said the most important job was to reinforce the buildings’ structures to ensure they are supported, or they could crumble. The refurbishment cannot be delayed any further because typhoon season is about to begin, Lin added.
Lin said that the dormitories were in a very good location and had a lot of potential to be developed into a tourist attraction, adding that if the dormitories were developed, it would help the development of surrounding areas.
Lin used Greater Tainan heritage site Hayahi Hyakkaten (林百貨) — which became the first department store in southern Taiwan to have elevators when it opened in 1932 — as an example of how heritage and cultural sites can attract corporations to invest in and manage the site, creating a win-win situation of financial gain and development, while preserving cultural heritage.
If the management of the dormitories were outsourced using a build-operate-transfer model, or a reconstruction-operation-transfer model, the city might be able to attract investors to work with the university and repurpose the buildings into something else, such as an international club, Lin said.
The buildings do not need to be demolished, and their mix of traditional and modern architecture makes them very appealing, Lin said, adding that the site stood to gain no matter what it was developed into.
The school said that it has allocated funds for the buildings’ annual repairs, adding that its ultimate goal was finding a viable way to preserve the dormitories in their entirety.
It said it has filed an application with the central government for a grant to conduct research into how to best preserve the historic buildings.