Taipei City Councilor Wu Pei-yi (吳沛憶) on Saturday urged the Taipei Department of Cultural Affairs to designate the Japanese colonial-era Showa Building (昭和樓) a cultural heritage site to protect it from being demolished.
Wu made the remarks after the department on Tuesday last week visited the building to evaluate it for preservation, a standard procedure before a public building that is more than 50 years old is razed.
The Showa Building, on Zhongxiao E Road Sec 2, was a rare kind of office building when it was constructed in 1942, Wu said.
Photo courtesy of Wu Pei-yi
The three-story building was built with reinforced concrete and has European-style windows, ceilings and staircases. It has a pedestrian arcade on the first floor with with 12 stone-like pillars, and intricate diamond patterns are featured on its wooden gate.
Department Deputy Commissioner Tien Wei (田瑋) said that it conducted the evaluation after the National Audit Office, which has owned the building since the end of World War II, sent a letter notifying the department of its plans to raze the building.
The office in 2015 first expressed interest in tearing it down, and the department then determined not to grant the structure cultural heritage status as it had been renovated and altered, Tien said.
Wu said that records from the 2015 inspection show that department based its judgement solely on the building’s appearance, without considering its historical value.
Wu said that she and others have submitted documentation to justify preserving the building, which had been used by three companies during its lifetime — a business that produced religious offerings, a textiles firm and a bookstore — showing its unique historical significance.
Hopefully, with more in-depth knowledge of the site, the department can make a better-informed decision, she said.
“The government should be a watchdog for cultural assets, not a killer of them,” she added.
Tien said that the department conducted site visits according to standard procedures, and although the evaluation is still ongoing, it welcomes more documentation before making a final decision.
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