Preserve Nangang Bottle Cap Factory, activists urge

HERITAGE SITE?:Supporters of naming the former factory as a historic site say that it showcases architectural history, boasts a variety of art and is home to hundreds of trees

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Mon, Nov 11, 2013 - Page 3

As Taipei City’s Cultural Affairs Bureau meets this morning to review whether the Nangang Bottle Cap Factory should be named a historic site, a group of volunteers said they would hold a campaign outside the meeting to show their support for protecting the old factory and the many trees around it.

The buildings housing the factory were first built by a softwood lumber company during the Japanese colonial era to manufacture tinplate bottle caps. After 1945, it was bought by Taiwan Tobacco and Liquor Corp, before it was finally shut down in 2004.

After being abandoned for several years, the city’s Urban Development Bureau in 2010 initiated an Urban Regeneration Station project, turning the factory and its grounds into a public space for the creative industry and allowing TV commercials, movies and other programs to be shot at the factory.

The city’s Land Administration Bureau announced in May that the factory would be torn down in August, leading people to form a volunteer group to prevent the factory from being destroyed.

With the demolition unfinished and efforts being made by various groups to preserve the old factory, the Cultural Affairs Bureau designated the area an interim historic site.

However, the volunteers’ group said that if bureau fails to designate it as a permanent historic site, the factory will once again face being torn down.

“The buildings in the factory were constructed at different times, showcasing Taiwan’s architectural history,” the group said, adding that warehouses with cypress roofs, factory buildings with skylights, different rooms for the various daily living needs of workers, a fort and three air-raid shelters used during World War II and many unique buildings can all be seen on the site, so it is worth preserving it as a historic site.

A total of 116 films have been shot in the factory area so far and the factory also displays precious graffiti and installation art pieces created by many artists from around the world, so it attracts people who are interested in art and photography, the group said.

Moreover, it said there are more than 300 trees of at least 40 species growing on the site, so designating the factory as a historical site can also benefit the public by providing a much-needed green space in Taipei.