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TFAM’s continuing evolution

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The approved design for the renovation of Taipei Fine Arts Museum. Photograph: TFAM

Rewritten by Ariston Ramos
Since its establishment in 1983, the Taipei Fine Arts Museum (TFAM) has become one of the most important art exhibition venues in Taiwan. With its increasing number of events and activities, TFAM directors decided that the collection storehouse is too small for more comprehensive preservation and maintenance of its vast art collection. Recent developments in preservation methods and professional research into museum management have also underlined the need for expansion.
In September 2015, Taipei City Mayor Ko Wen-je attended the TFAM exhibition Made in Taiwan Making Taiwan: The TFAM Collection, during which he expressed agreement with museum directors that a bigger storehouse was needed. Soon city government gave their backing to the planning, project management, and trial archaeological excavations (which are a part of museum management and acquisition of artifacts for later exhibitions).
Last week the turnkey construction project committee announced their pick of the outstanding construction companies that submitted bids and proposals: Joyear Group Construction Co., Ltd. (久年營造股份有限公司), CTCI Smart Engineering Corp. (益鼎工程股份有限公司), and Shu Chang & Architects Association (張樞建築師事務所). The three firms will take charge of different phases of the re-construction project. The operations base will stand in the museum’s large underground car park, which will enable TFAM to remain open for exhibitions. The storehouse will also not be completely sealed off.
After receiving bids and proposals from some outstanding construction companies, the turnkey construction project committee last week announced their choice of Joyear Group Construction Co., Ltd. (久年營造股份有限公司), CTCI Smart Engineering Corp. (益鼎工程股份有限公司), and Shu Chang & Architects Association (張樞建築師事務所). The three firms will take charge of different phases of TFAM’s re-construction project. The construction operations base will be the museum’s large underground car park. This will enable the public to still come to TFAM for exhibitions; neither will the storehouse be completely sealed off.

A radical proposal

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An architectural rendering of the restoration lab in the new TFAM. Photograph: TFAM

Shu Chang Architects made the radical proposal of re-designing the artifacts collection storehouse as a TFAM subsidiary that would provide professional services from a new underground location, thus increasing public space on the ground level without increasing the building’s footprint.
This proposal marked a break from an initial design of a four-floor building with two basement levels, but it seemed to fulfill the museum’s functional needs. Shu Chang Architects said their proposal could strengthen TFAM’s structural foundations against earthquake and after-shocks, and the basement location might result in reduced energy use. In addition, re-locating to the same level as the museum’s general warehouse would strengthen artifact safety protocols and simplify transportation lines, thus greatly reducing the risk of damage.
For museum storehouses, disaster prevention is crucial to ensure the safety of collections. The TFAM re-construction project includes a flood-control system that builds on 200 years of experience in flood control. One of the system’s models is the Taipei Metro’s flood-control doors that block street-level flood water from flowing into the underground metro. A sloping street level will also be part of the new design, preventing rising flood waters from reaching the flood control doors.

The present underground car park was built four meters below the street-level square and museum entrance. Shu Chang Architects want to reduce this to just 1.15 meters. They also propose integrating the sidewalk with the museum’s east entrance via a walkway, which should attract more visitors by improving access.

Putting the storehouse on display

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The front area of the collection storehouse relocated to the basement. Photograph: TFAM

As Taiwan’s first contemporary art museum, TFAM has been accumulating art objects and artifacts for almost 40 years. Artistic creations from the Japanese colonial era, classic pieces by Taiwanese and foreign artists, and original works by modern artists displayed during themed exhibitions—all are kept in the museum storehouse.
Shu Chang Architects wants to make all these exhibits more accessible in what they envision as a “visible storehouse,” which would be open to researchers by appointment. Inside they will see preservation methods and behind-the-scenes care, and learn the importance of the preservation of cultural assets. The visible storehouse is intended to enhance public cultural education.
TFAM has undergone many renovations throughout its long history. In 2017, it carried out a major renovation of the central air-conditioning system and installed more modern centralized control functions. It also remodeled the south entrance and the outer square adjacent to the Wang Da Hong House Theater.
Zhang Shu’s renovation proposal is based on functional needs rather than a stunning design. The architects thoroughly considered the close interaction between the various architectural units of the entire structure before proposing the collection storehouse be relocated to the basement. The architects’ humility made them determined to respect Gao Erpan’s original design and maintain the “architectural volume” (i.e. floor area multiplied by height). TFAM is an iconic Taipei structure, a buildings that stands in the collective memory of the people of Taipei.
The renovation could eventually give birth to a Taipei Art Park, an accessible space for everyone. Taipei City Government has earmarked NT$1.7357 billion for the reconstruction, which is expected to be completed by 2024.
For more information:
Facebook: Taipei Fine Arts
Liu Hui-ping 02-2595-7656 ext. 111; hpliu@tfam.gov.tw
Jean Kao 02-2595-7656 ext. 110; tckao@tfam.gov.tw