The new Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) station in Keelung is due to open in June, but city councilors dissatisfied with plans for the old TRA station have called on the local government to consider restoring the station to its former appearance.
According to reports given to the council by Keelung Mayor Lin You-chang (林右昌), the old station would follow concepts introduced by Yilan County’s TRA station, which employed themes from the work of Jimmy Liao (幾米), a renowned Taiwanese illustrator.
“We plan to have the old station become a public art exhibition area and invite cultural creative artists to exhibit their works there,” Lin said, adding that the city government hoped to connect the old station to the second warehouse on the western docks and form an art gallery.
Photo courtesy of Tsai Ying-ching
However, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) City Councilor You Hsian-yao (游祥耀) said that the city government should come up with its own ideas, instead of copying those of others.
With NT$100 million (US$3.22 million) of central government funding allocated for the repurposing of the train station, You said that the city government could remodel the old station to look as it had during the Japanese colonial period.
The city government could even make the replica smaller if it is concerned about funding, You said, adding that the interior of the station could be made into an art gallery or a small shopping center.
People First Party (PFP) City Councilor Chuang Chin-tien (莊錦田) said Tokyo main station in Japan had undergone renovation several years ago to retain a classical look, adding that the old Keelung TRA station, with its red bricks and antique style of construction, had once been called the most beautiful train station in Taiwan.
“It is a pity that the subsequent changes made to the station caused such fame to slowly fade away,” Chuang said, adding that he had suggested in the past that the city government restore the station to its previous style of architecture.
Internet commentary on the city government’s decision to emulate Yilan County’s Jimmy Plaza (幾米廣場) also supported Chuang’s and You’s suggestions, saying that Keelung needed its own style to make it distinct from other cities and counties.
Lin said that returning the old station to what it was is a good idea, adding that he would ask the city government’s Department of Cultural Affairs to look into the viability of the suggestion.
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