In yet another renovation success story, Futai Street Mansion (臺北撫台街洋樓) has reopened it’s doors to the public in a phoenix-like rebirth.
There are not that many historic buildings left in Taipei what with wars, natural disasters, termites, and a previous lack of interest in preserving anything old, so it is encouraging that the government has started to preserve the ones that are left.
Futai Mansion was originally built to be the headquarters of a Japanese construction company in 1910 as the Japanese colonial government at the time built up this area of Taipei. After the Japanese withdrew from Taiwan in 1945, the Ministry of Defense took control of the building until 1997 when it was designated a historic site.
Disaster struck in 2000 when the wooden structure was completely destroyed by fire. Incredibly the building was saved from demolition and restoration began in 2006, being completed a year later and opening to the public in 2009.
Although it was built by a Japanese company (the same company which built the National Taiwan Museum), the style is Western with distinct dormer windows and arches as you can see in the photos above.
On entering the building you are struck by the strong sweet smell of Chinese cypress (or possibly juniper) from the roof (or possibly benches). The wooden roof is certainly impressive and unusual in its scale (for Taiwan). The floors and stairs are also made of wood, and there is a roof garden, although no seating was available when we visited.
The mansion is now mainly used for photo exhibitions, which is fitting seeing as there are many camera shops close by. The first floor is taken up with exhibition space, and the second floor is used for workshops, lectures and movies. These are often open to the public, and the schedule will be posted on the Futai Mansion Facebook page (in Chinese), as will details of the exhibitions.
The building is not that big, so it is difficult to recommend a trip specifically to visit, although if the exhibition is of particular interest that is a different matter. However, there are a few other places to visit in this area, and combined it would make for an enjoyable half day to a full day.
For example, you could take the MRT to the NTU Hospital Station, walk through 228 Park to the National Taiwan Museum, get some of the famous beef noodles around the station, visit Futai Mansion, get a coffee at Astoria (coffee shop opened in 1949 and co-owned by a Russian gentleman), try an unusual flavour of ice cream at Snow King then go camera shopping. All easily walkable, and we will be reviewing the museum and Snow King soon.
We at Taiwan Ho! fully support the government in trying to preserve the heritage that remains in Taiwan, and we would urge everyone to also show support by visiting.
Address: Futai Street Mansion, No. 26, Yanping S. Rd., Taipei City
Address in Chinese: 臺北市延平南路26號
Hours: 10:00am – 6:00pm Mondays to Saturdays
Admission: Usually free but some exhibitions may require an entry fee.
Website: http://www.facebook.com/futai1910 (Chinese)
*As of June 2014, Google has the mansion marked as being permanently closed. It isn’t.