Day 2, stop 2: Songshan Cultural & Creative Park

 

“See those buildings with black roof? That’s the old tobacco factory, it’s now a cultural center,” said my host, while pointing at it from the 31st floor YEN restaurant of W Taipei. It was a short walk away in from the hotel in the cosmopolitan district of Xin Yi.

 

The Songshan Cultural & Creative Park seen from YEN of W Hotel
The roofs of the old tobacco facotry seen from YEN Restaurant of W Taipei. It’s the Songshan Cultural & Creative Park today

 

I made it the second stop of my day two itinerary in Taipei, after National Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, which was in the same vicinity and a block away. Both the historic structures are neighbors of the soon-to-open modern mammoth, the Taipei Dome. Together it makes up the Taipei Cultural and Sporting Complex that highlights the city’s historic sites, structures and architecture.

 

SCCP old tobacco factory building
Building on the left, once the machine repair plant, houses the Yue Yue Bookstore & the Luili Cafe. On the right, once the East Tobacco Factory, is where the Song Yan Gallery & Creative Labs are

 

THe buildings of the heritage site in Taipei
Sandwiched by modernity. The old tobacco factory now a craative center between the New Horizon building’s sculptural column & the Taipei Dome roofing

 

Songshan is a multifunctional park designed as a creative stage with international focus. Its prime intention is to act as “the creative hub of Taipei,” which will put the country on the cultural and creative industry map.

 

Way to SCCP
Path leading to the cultural park from the street

 

Site map of SCCP
The cultural property’s site map

 

Through its four key strategies— Creative Lab, Creative Co-Op, Creative School and Creative Showcase— the aim to inspire and nurture creative talents; spark innovation and set trends; and extend cultural and art education and encourage public involvement in the different disciplines of art can be achieved.

 

SCCP eco pond
The park’s Eco-Pond

 

Art in the garden of Songshan park
Art in the park

 

But before it became the public platform of Taipei’s cultural and creative industry it was a Japanese government-run tobacco factory in 1937, the Taiwan Sōtokufu Tobacco Monopoly Bureau, the first modernized tobacco factory in Taiwan designed in the architectural style of Japanese Early Modernism.

 

Warehouses 1-5 for exhibitions
Warehouses 1-5 is used for exhibitions

 

The industrial plant’s design was pioneering as well. Large open space, courtyards that included a Baroque garden in the factory’s quadrangle, and a well-running production line were penciled into the blueprint as consideration to the needs of the employees. It was more of an “industrial village”.

 

The interior of the tobacco factory
The interior of the tobacco factory today

 

Exhibition spaces at the SCCP old tabacco factory
The North Tobacco Factory is now an expsition hall

 

In 1945, after Japan ceded Taiwan, the factory was renamed to Taiwanese Provincial Tobacco and Alcohol Monopoly Bureau Songshan Plant, then to Songshan Tobacco Plant of the Taiwan Tobacco and Wine Bureau in 1947.

 

The Baroque Garden seen from the window
Who wouldn’t want to work here. The baroque garden in the factory’s quadrangle

 

Entry to the Baroque Garden of the SCCP
One of the many paths to and through the Baroque Garden

 

The Baroque Garden of the old factory
The Baroque Garden in the vast quadrangle of the factory

 

East Tabacco Factory at SCCP
Green & open space of the tobacco factory. The East Tobacco Factory seen from the garden

 

Half a century later, in 1998, over urban planning, new tobacco and liquor regulations and the decline in tobacco demand, the factory ceased operations.

 

Red Dot siplay space at SCCP Taipei
Catching up with the Joneses. Ingenuous way to display. It’s like peeking through someone’s home filled with covetable items

 

Red Dot space SCCP Taipei
At the Red Dot Design Area. The product description is printed against the opposite wall

 

Stay umbrella
Stay Umbrella. It can stand on its handle, hang securely from tables & stay propped up on walls

 

The tobacco plant was resurrected into Songshan Cultural and Creative Park in 2001 and was appointed as the city’s 99th historic site by the Taipei City Government.

 

Pin Taiwan Design through the window
With much purpose. Lighting the hallway, calling attention, makes one peek through the window of the Pin Taiwan Design room filled with interesting objects

 

Design Taiwan Pin. It's like a museum of industrial design products for sale
Design Taiwan Pin. It’s like a museum of industrial design products which you can take home

 

Taiwan designed products to take home
Pin Taiwan Design. See it. Love it. Bag it

 

Products at the Pin Taiwan Design at SCCP
Industrial design at its best for sale in this gallery

 

Bird lamp at PIN Taipei Design SCCP
Avian illuminator. A bird lover’s lamp

 

Deskaccessories at Pin Taiwan Design, SCCP
More avian desk assistants at the Pin Taiwan Design store

 

Taiwan made piggy banks
Too pretty to break once filled with coins

 

However, it was not until November 2011 that the former factory’s space was used more efficiently and opened to the public. As a creative park, it provided the venues for diverse cultural and creative exhibitions and performances.

 

Song Yan Gallery
The Song Yan Gallery is where you can view the artifacts of the old tobacco factory, shop ofr Taiwanese-made products & have a sip of coffee or a bite.

 

Working desk of the old tobacco facoty at the Songshan Museum SCCP
Remnants of the old tabacco factory’s past

 

Tobacco products of the factory
Products of the old tobacco factory

 

Old Japanese tobacco facotry artifacts
Get to know the old Japanese tobacco factory

 

Tobacco factory Printing machine at Songshan Museum
Printing machine of the past

 

Today, the Songshan Cultural and Creative Park is a platform for showcasing creativity and innovation. It actively involves itself in the organization of artistic, cultural and creativity activities.

 

Coffee shop at the Song Yan Gallery
The gallery is also a coffee shop where ou can enjoy a fresh brew in nooks that serve as meeting spaces and a store where you can browse through and purchase Made in Taiwan products

 

Coffee shop & museum at SCCP Taipei
Artifacts on the table. Art talk around the table

 

Expect art an exhibition or symposium, a fashion show or award ceremony and even a film shooting when you visit. These are part of the cross-disciplinary events the park is pushing for.

 

Old Tabacco Factory design on stationeries at SCCP
Stationeries with the old tabccao factory designs at the Song Yan Gallery

 

Made in Taiwan denim & lether goods
Denim & leather, love the combination. For sale at the Song Yan Gallery

 

The part gathers a very artsy crowd not just tourists, the vibe of place attracts them. Of it’s not architecture of the well-preserved structures of the old tobacco plant that draws them in, it is what’s currently housed within its walls—art in all its forms in the museum, stores and exhibitions—and the scene is constantly changing.

 

 Taiwan Design Museum at SCCP
Desgined to attract. The entrance of the Taiwan Design Museum in a section of the tabacco factory

 

To get there: Take MRT Blue Line to the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall Memorial Hall Station, take Exit 5.

Email me at jinggoysalvador@yahoo.com. For more lifestyle & travel stories, visit ofapplesandlemons.com and jeepneyjinggoy.com

Also published in the SunStar Davao newspapaer.

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