May 1, 2010

Ximen, Red House

Right off the Taipei MRT Ximen Station (西門站), despite the crowd of youngsters, luster brilliant neon signs, and carnival atmosphere of the Ximending (西門町), an octagonal historical red building catches my attention. This is the “Red House” (紅樓), a historical culture landmark of Taipei, presenting a unique diversity culture of Taiwan for the past 100 years.

The Red House was finished in 1908 and designed by a Japanese architecture, Kondo Juro, who had the western-styled architect background. The Red House was a fashion and goods market during the Japanese Colonial Era. It became a popular spot for Japanese visitors who regarded it as an important recreational area in Eastern Asia at that time.

After the retrocession, the Nationalist government retreated to Taiwan from Mainland China. The Red House became the most popular theater for Chinese storytelling, operas, and stage play. Since the 60’s, the Red House Movie Theater has been very popular among westernized youngsters with the playing of second-run western films. However, because of the rapid development in the east urban area of Taipei in the 90’s, the west area of Taipei such as Ximending and Red House went into the worst downtime. After a devastating fire that burned down the Cruciform building and South-North Square in 2000, the Red House was rebuilt by the joint effort of the local community and government. Now, I see the Red House and Ximending as the breeding and dream hatch places for the young culturally and creative individuals or industries. Through an understanding of the brief history of the Red House, I think the transformation is impressive and successful.

If you are interested in seeing the changes of the Red House through the historical photos, please click to see the Red House official website (source)

The first and second floors of the Red House now are the art exhibition, restaurants, cafes, shops, and theaters. The interior setting and decoration are reflecting the old time of Taiwan.

The back of the Cruciform building is the well-known Cultural and Creative Development Center- “16 Creative Boutique” (16工房). Strolling through each shop, I was amazed by all the creative and fashionable ideas and products.

It was also interesting to know that the rental fee of the 16 Creative Boutique is actually lower than that of the surrounding stores. In addition, the water, electric, and internet costs are also included. However, in order to become one of the 16 Creative Boutiques, one has to be creative with unique original products. The new products also have to be introduced from time to time. With this strict rule to comply with, this is the place that I can definitely expect the birth of talented young designers, and their new name brands. I can also see new ideas being constantly tapped from the visitors.

During weekends, the outside of the Red House has become the “Creative Bazaar” (創意市集) where at least 40-50 booths are set up for college students, young designers, or young musicians to show their talents and sell their creative products. Take time to visit each booth and talk to the young designers, you would definitely find surprises and feel their energy and enthusiasm!

The south of the Red House, there are well-known gay bars and cafes. The New Year Eve firework celebration attracted gays from all over Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Singapore, and Thailand to congregate. It has become a unique place!

As the sun goes down, the lights are up; Ximending is full of crowds, energy, and shining as lively stars! Come to Ximen to enjoy youngsters fashion and creativities in Taiwan, and also visit the historical Red House that has been successfully transformed!

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Rafael Lam said...

I must visit the Red House in Taipei MRT Ximen Station next time I go to Taiwan,
I like to explore the art zone all around!
Have a similar red house in Macau, but it's only an old market building, of course the design and historical value aren't the same...

Zhu said...

I would love to browse the art on WE!

This building really witnessed a large part of Taiwan history.

Indoors markets (even art markets) are not that common in China. Sure, the Silk Market in Beijing, but I tend to see more markets outdoors, such as Mongkok in HK, Fuzi Miao in Nanjing (love this one!) etc.

micki and kristen said...

@Rafael- I think you will definitely enjoy the Red House and the art market that takes place on the weekends there since you are a designer!:)

@Zhu- You will love the art market here. Lots of neat and creative ideas. Good place to take some photos too~~

Todd said...

A very lovely place to visit. Well captured!

Anonymous said...

I would love to shop at the Creative Bazaar to get some creative ideas. ;-)
We have something like that in London too, but stall owners normally do not like to have their stuff photographed.

Well, I can understand them. But if someone really wants to copy your idea, they can also "remember" your products by heart and then modify it at home, right?

micki and kristen said...

Thanks Todd! :)

@Londoncaller- I won't like the idea of taking photos of the products directly, but it would be fun to take photos of the lively market~~

fufu said...

such a nice place! it has two different faces ya... but i would like to go there in the evening then wait until the light all on... hohoho

Chiawei,Sun said...

Hi, this is Chiaweisun pursuing MFA degree at Savannah college of art and design. I browsed you blog and glad to see you introduce Taiwan to people. Welcome to visit Happysweetpotato which is a part of my thesis which offers ideas derived from everyday life in Taiwan.
we disscuss anything relevent to Taiwan through design in a fun and interactive way.

Welcome to visit us!(

Thank you

Anonymous said...

Well, that's the point.
Taking general photos still cannot deter people who still really want to copy one's idea. They can blow it up using special image software, etc.

Instead of photographing secretly from side way, why not face them and explain it frankly.

micki and kristen said...

@Fufu- Yes, the life starts in Ximending when the sun goes down..

@Chiawei- Thanks for sharing your blog. However, I can’t open it with the address you provided.

shloke said...

Interesting! This Red House reminds me of Central Market in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It's also a place for budding artists to market their art pieces.

This Red House is way better than my Central Market. Love the modern and artistic interior design. In addition, these weekend bazaar is really AWESOME! Definitely like to meet the erson or people behind them.

I hope my Central Market can emulate Red House. It looks dilapidated, outdated + boring!


micki and kristen said...

Hi, Mylo I think the Central Market in Kuala Lumpur looks larger than the Red House. I checked it out online. It does not look too bad to me though~~ :)

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