F Taipei Adventures: Day 2, stop 2, Songshan Cultural & Creative Park - jeepneyjinggoy

Taipei Adventures: 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 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.


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.

Sandwiched by modernity. The old tobacco factory now a creative 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.


Path leading to the cultural park from the street


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.


The park's Eco-Pond

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 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 today


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.


Who wouldn't want to work here. The baroque garden in the factory's quadrangle

One of the many paths to and through the Baroque Garden


The Baroque Garden in the vast quadrangle of the factory


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.


Catching up with the Joneses. Ingenuous way to display. It's like peeking through someone's home filled with covetable items


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


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 99thhistoric site by the Taipei City Government.


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 which you can take home


Pin Taiwan Design. See it. Love it. Bag it


Industrial design at its best for sale in this gallery


Avian illuminator. A bird lover's lamp

More avian desk assistants at the Pin Taiwan Design store


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.


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


Remnants of the old tobacco factory's past


Products of the old tobacco factory


Get to know the old Japanese tobacco factory


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.


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


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.


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.


Desgined to attract. The entrance of the Taiwan Design Museum in a section of the tobacco 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 newspaper.