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Spotlights on Lanjing Street and Zhongxiao Road – Renovated Old Houses, Telling Stories

  • PostDate:2021-01-19

Spotlights on Lanjing Street and Zhongxiao Road – Renovated Old Houses, Telling Stories with Buildings


January 11, 2021

Cultural Affairs Bureau / Tourism and Information Department


        There are 8 entries qualified for the first “Old Building Make-up Removal Program” initiated by the Cultural Affairs Bureau of Chiayi City, and 3 of them sit at the intersection of Zhongxiao Road and Lanjing Street. The 3 include No.32 on Zhongxiao Road, Xinyangchun Traditional Chinese Medicine Pharmacy and Shengantang Herb Store. After the facades underwent the renovation, the old buildings carry an odor of simplicity in the past and tell stories of Tsulo with different elements such as arc balconies, horizontal windows and black tiles on the roofs.

        Mayor Ming-hui Huang appreciates the positive response of the local and the detailed beforehand investigation done by the team of Nanhua University led by the associate professor Zheng-zhe Chen. The team also came up with ideas of effective renovation and design depending on different buildings. Unnecessary hanging decorations, messy pipes and power cords were all removed. The wooden facades were reinforced to prevent leaking. With light beaming on them at night, the historic atmosphere bursts out and warm the whole street. The different views during daytime and nighttime make them the new spotlights of the block.

        Chen, the director of the program and associate professor of the Department of Architecture and Landscape Design in Nanhua University, reveals that the building of No.32 on Zhongxiao Road and the Japanese two-story buildings connected to it on each side have been standing right there for over a hundred years since they were built in 1921. They used to be a fancy hotel with a restaurant and a garden. The significant past can still be seen through its façade, round windows, arc balcony and clapboard sidings.

        Chen claims that it’s a rather hard work to build round windows or an arc balcony, so the original designer must’ve persevered to work on those details. With time however, the tiles, railings and wooden door were all damaged. In order to repair the damage, he team asked the tile factory to utilize the inventory in the past to replace the damaged tiles with similar ones in terms of size and color and to preserve some old tiles. The repairment of doors and windows requires more advanced techniques. All of the parts have to be taken off from the building to undergo the maintenance first. Due to stained glass is no longer manufactured, the damaged parts have to be replaced with similar materials from a material bank for building. By removing the painting on the clapboard sidings, the team also discovered that the original color of the main building was blue and the connected buildings on each side were green. The color use was speculated to make the buildings at the corner conspicuous back then.

        Xinyangchun Traditional Chinese Medicine Pharmacy is another building built around a hundred years ago. The first floor is the pharmacy while the second floor is a living space. The valuable Japanese black tiles on the roof were still preserved. Different from cement tiles, black tiles are made from clay through high-temperature heating. They gleam under light and every single black tile is slightly different from each other, so the roof covered with a bunch of tiles would not look tedious.

        Shengantang Herb Store is the only entry whose original look is all gone. Through the old picture, we can learn that the façade of the second floor used to have sliding windows lining up horizontally. The arrangement was one of the main styles of modernism in the 30s, and it was still commonly seen in the 80s. In the program, the sliding windows were rebuilt with wooden grilles and the original patterns in the picture. Painted with bright colors, the façade of the second floor goes perfectly well with the old well next to it which has been sitting there for hundreds of years. It also faces the arc balcony of No.32 on Zhongxiao Road.

        Yu-xiang Yin, the second generation Xinyangchun Traditional Chinese Medicine Pharmacy runner, told that his 83-year-old father left Tainan for Chiayi to start the business with his mother when he was young. The pharmacy is where it all began and it deserves being treated well. Yin held expectations toward the change after being renovated so he decided to participate in the program. He’s glad about the success and shows gratitude to the team that was being considerate about the construction adapted for the open hours of the pharmacy.

        Cultural Affairs Bureau states that the program isn’t simply focused on the renovation of facades. Chen saw the old buildings that were to be renovated and the surroundings as a whole to come up with ideas. Some old remaining materials are also preserved for visitors to travel to the past, present and future of Chiayi City. We hope to practice aesthetics in everyday life through the designs that influence our attitudes. The 8 selected buildings are all around street corners, historic sites and tourist attractions. The owners are obligated to turn on the light during 6:30 to 9:30 every evening for three years after the renovations are done to make the beauties of their houses to be noticed.