Songshan Cultural and Creative Park and Huashan 1914 Creative Park are housed in two of the sturdiest establishments that were built during the Japanese colonial era in Taiwan. During their heydays, the two industrial plants gave the people in Taiwan a means to earn a living and eventually, helped boost the economy of Taiwan. Today, the two defunct industrial plants are two Taipei attractions that operate as creative hubs that showcase the rich culture and heritage of Taiwan and to share to people an experience that will inspire them to create and innovate.
When I visited the Northeast Taiwan, I discovered that despite a remaining mineral deposit contaminated their waterfalls in Jinguashi and their sea in North coast, the phenomenon is still a good story to tell that turned out to be an artwork.
Another story that is not far different from that of Northeast Taiwan is the story of the two defunct industrial plants in Taipei City. In this article, I’d like to share with you quick notes about the two defunct industrial plants-turned-creative hubs, how to get there, what you can see and what you can do.
Songshan Cultural and Creative Park
The tobacco factory now turned Songshan Cultural and Creative Park in Xinyi District was first built in 1937 during the Japanese colonial era. The factory was completed after three years but started its operation in 1939. By the end of the Japanese colonial era, the Taiwan Governor’s Office handled the administration of the tobacco factory. However, due to new urban planning strategies, new laws on liquor and tobacco, and since the tobacco demand subsided, this tobacco factory had to be closed down in 1998.
But, the story of the Songshan tobacco factory did not end here. In fact, in 2001, the local government of Taipei City designated the tobacco factory as a cultural heritage site in order to recognize the site as the once home of Taiwan’s first tobacco factory which helped to boost the economy of Taiwan.
In 2011, the Songshan tobacco factory was opened to the public as a creative hub of Taiwan which we now called the Songshan Cultural and Creative Park. The Songshan Cultural and Creative Park retained the original factory establishment since it really has impressive and innovative designs. The industrial design of the plant not only focused on the assembly line but on the welfare of the factory workers as well. Proofs of this are the baroque garden, and nursery room.
The Songshan Cultural and Creative Park designated an area inside the factory to retell the heydays of the tobacco factory. Aside from this, the Songshan Cultural and Creative Park features exhibits, theater, seminars, souvenirs, unique stores and different food experiences in order to serve as a creative hub that not only inspires but stirs imagination and challenge individuals and companies to create and innovate
How to get there:
The Songshan Cultural and Creative Park highly encourages visitors to take public transportation. Via MRT, just ride the Bannan (blue) line and alight at Exit 5 of Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall Station. An alternative is at the Exit 1 or 2 of Taipei City Hall MRT Station. Either which, they are both only eight to twelve minutes away from the creative park through the Yanchang Road or the Line 553, Sec. 4, Zhongxiao E. Road.
Bus 669 will allow you to alight at the crossing of Civic Boulevard and Yanchang Road.
The nearest drop off point for buses 204, 254, 266, 282, 288, or 797 will be at Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall MRT Station. This is the same for the buses 212, 232, Red 232, Green 232, 299, 919.
Taxi ride going to the Songshan Cultural and Creative Park is more convenient and can cost a minimum of NT$ 90 (P 151.22). For the whole day or half, a private charter who can drive you not only to the creative park but also around the city of Taipei can be booked through Klook.
What to see:
The Songshan Cultural and Creative Park is a multi-purpose park where you can find temporary and permanent exhibits, either free pass or subject to an entrance fee. Below are only some of the most interesting galleries, as well as stores, and cafe and restaurants you may come across at the Songshan Cultural and Creative Park.
Songyan Gallery is a bridge back to the early days of the actual Tobacco Factory. Put on display are vintage furniture and items used during the heydays of the Tobacco Factory. The fading walls of this gallery also offer visitors Tobacco Factory souvenir items to take home. It also has couches and tables where you can eat light meals and enjoy a cup of coffee as a cafe counter inside the gallery can serve you.
We absolutely loved this shop! Even though the place has huge space and has like so much going on, we felt that we still got our own private nook. So, we thought to burn some time here. This is what I loved most about the Songshan Cultural and Creative Park. The prices of the souvenirs and the food on the menu are reasonable. When it comes to their service, we didn’t feel that they were pressuring. Further below are more options where you can dine.
Creative Lab is designated on the second floor, east area of the Songshan Creative Park. This formerly tobacco factory area now primarily functions as a lease venue for short-term projects, particularly for performing arts and new media arts. The historic empty space for rent preserved its industrial large windows, high ceilings and abundant space. Just the right venue for the rehearsals, live theater show, and exhibits.
Taiwan Design Museum
Located in the west part of the Songshan Creative Park, Taiwan Design Museum is the first Museum in the world with a focus on the subject “design” and authentically made in Taiwan. The museum divided into seven subsections which are Taiwan Design, Concept Zone, Golden Pin, International Design, Innovative design, Spotlight on Design, and Interaction Design. Entrance fee varies depending on the exhibits.
Red Dot Design Museum
Located in the west area right next the Taiwan Design Museum is the third Red Dot Design Museum. The first two branches are located in Germany and Singapore. The Red Dot Design sponsors a competition that gives special recognition for quality and innovative concepts, product designs, and communications designs as well as for design teams who are game changers in the design industry.
For an entrance fee of around NT$ 50 (P 84.41), you can stroll around, and touch – but not damage – the products that won in the competition of Red Dot Design. Some sample products on display may include couch, bikes, marketing posters, and watches. Some of them are also for sale.
Also inside the Factory Complex, west area, is the Cafe Sole. It is only a small cafe with extra seatings by the corridor. Its interior design is simple and exudes a warm vibe similar to a typical cafe.
On their menu, they serve a different selection of tea, fruity and chocolatey beverages, freshly baked sandwiches and quiches, and delectable desserts like walnut brownie and cheesecake, all at affordable prices. Oh, and their cup of coffee plays around NT$ 90 up to NT$ 180 (P 151.95 to P 303.89). Then, they’ll draw for you a cute and lovely foam art to make your cup of cafe latte Instagrammable.
Yue Yue Bookstore
The factory space previously dedicated as the rest and play area for the factory workers’ children is now used by Yue Yue Bookstore, which is located along the ecological pond. On the shelves of this cabin, you can buy books which chiefly fall under the categories of literary arts, motion pictures, photography, and such.
The green log cabin is not only your usual bookstore because it is also a cafe. On their menu, you can notice that Yue Yue Bookstore is slightly costlier than Cafe Sole and has a wider selection of beverages. They serve coffee, milk tea, juice, and tea with the price range NT$ 140 to NT$ 220 (P 236.05 to P 370.93).
The place, being an Instagram-worthy bookstore, was used as a film location for a local romantic drama series, Lovestore at the Corner, which, by the way, seems to have good ratings and feedback. Since the romantic vibe has been imprinted on its walls, the bookstore cum cafe makes a good location for a prenuptial photo shoot. Its space can also hold book signing event, film showing, short talks, and other similar activities.
Liuli Gong Fang Songshan Gallery and Liuli Cafe
The Liuli Gong Fang, spearheaded by Taiwanese actress Loretta Yang and film director Chang Yi, is a pioneer of contemporary Chinese glass art and was first established in Taiwan. Its second manufacturing establishment is located in China. And, it has more than 70 permanent exhibits and showrooms across the globe.
The same company operates the Liuli Gong Fang cafe. The simple restaurant was made fancy by Liuli Gong Fang furnishings, glassware, and glass ornaments. The most noticeable decorations around the restaurant are the duck art displays. The ducks are really close to the heart of the Taiwanese actress, Loretta Yang.
Compared to Cafe Sole and Yue Yue Bookstore, Liuli Cafe sells coffee at a higher price. But, it offers a wider variety of meals and courses. At reasonable prices, they serve an appetizer, main course, soup, pizzas, and dessert.
Eco Pond/ BoardWalk
The Ecological pond, right outside the Yue Yue Bookstore and Liuli Cafe, was earlier intended for the factory’s fire safety precautions, moisture control, and ventilation. The eco-pond is still alive today which serves as a home for the Koi fishes, frogs, insects, and such.
Eslite Spectrum Songyan Store
While the Eslite Hotel occupies the fourth floor and up of the modern building inside the Songshan Cultural and Creative Park, the Eslite Spectrum Songyan Store takes up Basement 2, and first to third floors. Both Eslite Hotel and Eslite Spectrum Songyan Store are operated by the Eslite Company, which is one of the Taiwan’s giant companies in the retail bookstore industry.
The Eslite Spectrum Songyan Store is not just another Eslite bookstore branch. It also features gourmet restaurants on its basement 2, teashops and vinyl music museum along with the Eslite bookstore on the third floor, and clothing store on the first floor. On the second floor, they have there their sections for handicraft products with do-it-yourself workspace, for household goods, together with some snack bars.
What makes the Eslite Spectrum Songyan Store apart from ordinary malls is that it doesn’t feature well-known branded companies. Eslite Spectrum Songyan Store rather primarily gives support and lease space to individuals, small enterprises, and big companies which sell original products that showcase local culture, as well as different culture, and innovative and creative art.
The two cinema halls, by the way, located on basement 2 of the complex building embody the same intentions. The Eslite Art House and Eslite Performance Hall prioritize showing live performances and films that are related to the context of culture and art.
What to do:
In Songyan Gallery, you can commonly find souvenirs, particularly decorated with representations that depict the heydays of the old tobacco factory like customizable wooden craft, tapes with cute cartoons, and postcards. In other galleries, many of the actual artworks exhibited can also be purchased. Then, they have Eslite Spectrum Songyan Store which sells unique items for your clothing up to home decor.
Shopping – or even just window shopping – around the former tobacco factory complex is never boring. It’s like jumping from one artist’s canvas to another. I found cute items that I can put on for display, at home or at work, and for good use at the same time. It’s just that most of the items are really pricey.
Stroll around the park and take pictures. This tobacco factory-turned-multipurpose park is listed in our list of Instagrammable places in Taiwan.
Another spot in the Songshan Cultural Creative Park that I haven’t mentioned is its Baroque Garden with a classic fountain guarded by female statues and some small animal sculptures. The Baroque Garden is located in the central part of the factory complex.
You can indulge in sweets at the Cafe Sole or enjoy light meals in the private nook inside Songyan Gallery. Alongside the ecological pond, you can find the restaurants Yue Yue Bookstore which has a touch of romantic vibe and Liuli Café which is furnished with contemporary glass art. Liuli Cafe has more food selection which is slightly pricey but reasonable. The Eslite Spectrum Songyan Store features gourmet restaurants, some snack bars, unique tea houses and a bakery known for being owned by a Taiwanese and world champ baker.
Don’t miss the do-it-yourself studios at the lifestyle section of the Eslite Spectrum. You can experience shaping glasses, pottery, making jewelry and making woodcrafts. Then, you can get to take your very own artwork home.
Songshan Cultural and Creative Park inspires and educates the visitors through the exhibits. Likewise, the park holds seminars, forum, and workshops that can help anyone to create new ideas or re-ignite their love for the arts.
Every section is like a channel that brings you to a different dimension. Performing arts are often held at Creative Lab and Baroque Garden. Songyan Gallery puts the spotlight on the history of the actual Tobacco Factory. The Taiwan Design Museum has the theme of “design” but may be limited to the artworks made in Taiwan. Other spaces are open for lease to independent individuals, small to medium businesses and big companies. Thus, giving them the opportunity to showcase their talents to the world.
Huashan 1914 Creative Park Taiwan
Built in 1914, Huashan 1914 Creative Park is another industrial plant-turned creative park located in Zhongzheng District, Taipei City. During the Japanese colonial period, it was first opened as a privately owned industrial plant for wine, such as sake (Japanese Rice Wine).
It was in 1922 when the wine industry was monopolized by the colonial government. Thus, the factory was bought by the colonial government. After the Japanese colonial era, the government of Taiwan took over the management of Taipei winery. In 1987, the winery was transferred to Linkou District, West New Taipei and abandoned the industrial plant in Zhongzheng District.
In 1997, the young members of the Golden Bough Theatre got the chance to enter the abandoned industrial plant and saw something more beyond the walls of the abandoned winery. Their fascination toward the abandoned winery inspired them to use one of its areas as a performance stage. However, the abandoned winery was a government property and was already set for demolition. By word of mouth, a group of performing artists and other creative artists united in order to express their want for the reopening of the abandoned winery.
Today, the Taiwan Cultural-Creative Development Co. Ltd, under the supervision of the Ministry of Culture of Taiwan, now handles the operation of the winery-turned-creative park.
How to Get there:
The Huashan 1914 Creative Park is only 7 minutes away by foot from the Zhongxiao Xinsheng MRT Station. Just ride the MRT-Banan Line going to Zhongxiao Xinsheng MRT Station.
You can take bus no. 669 which stops in the Huashan 1914 Creative Park. Buses with No. 232, 605, or 665 can drop you off at Zhongxiao Elementary School, just five minutes away by foot from the creative park. Then, buses with No. 205, 232, 262, 276, or 299 stop at National Audit Office of Taiwan, Zhongxiao East Road, also five minutes away by foot from the creative park.
There shouldn’t be a problem when you take a taxi going to Huashan 1914 Creative Park. Just note that the flat rate is around NT$ 90 (P 151.22). But, for a sure transportation, you may book a private charter to drive you around Taipei City including the Huashan 1914 Creative Park. To book this private charter via Klook, click this link.
What to see
Huashan 1914 Creative Park has a nice open space which is a great place to bond for families, couples, and friends. You will see a lot of people taking a picture. Mural arts can be spotted on some corners. On the art boulevard, you’ll notice the warehouse covered in green vines. Then, they have pop up stores, restaurants, shops, theater house, and exhibits. Below are only some of the area where you may drop by.
In the East hall of Huashan 1914 Creative Park, you can find a branch of a popular pizza place in Taiwan. The theme of the Alleycat’s Pizza is founded on British, Italian and Taiwanese culture since it was founded by a British National but with Italian roots and has been a resident in Taiwan for many years. The restaurant has already 11 branches. But, the Huashan branch is often the favorite branch.
The Alleycat’s Pizza Huashan branch has a minimalist interior design with al fresco seating. And, it has a cozy vibe just the right place for a coffee, tea or beer. On their menu, their specialty is a thin crust pizza baked in traditional clay oven.
Here, we had iced-milk tea which costs NT$ 90 (P 151.75) just to quench our thirst on a warm but fine day at Huashan 1914 Creative Park.
Situated on the fifth central hall of the Huashan 1914 Creative Park is one of the venues used by Legacy Taipei. Legacy Taipei features live music performances of local and international artists, both famous or newcomers in the music industry.
Legacy Taipei also collaborates with Amba Hotel for the live band music at Tingba Music Lounge of the Amba Ximending as a good treat for the guests.
Read more about Amba Ximending in the article Instagrammable Taiwan.
The JoyLand is a virtual reality arcade game hub in the west hall of Huashan 1914. The theme of the VR arcade games includes sports, playing heroes, and some educational games.
FuJin Tree Landmark
FuJin Tree Landmark is a cafe located in the front hall of the creative park. They serve pour-over coffee, espresso-based coffee, tea, chocolate, and caffeine-free beverages. Price of the espresso-based coffee starts at NT$130 (P 219.19) while the price for the pour-over coffee starts at NT$ 180 (P 303.49).
They also have plants and flowers for sale since the cafe designated an area for their flower shop, Greendays. Another area is designated for pop up stores where you can see product exhibits. Then, they hold activities like flower arrangement classes and skincare candle course.
Right behind the Fujin Tree Landmark is the Present 提案+. This shop features the use of Taiwanese aborigines’ products into gift items that your loved ones can really appreciate and can really use, like a wallet, bracelet, and shoes. Their products are really unique and have colorful patterns.
Trio Cafe is a watering hole designed with floor to ceiling window walls but is covered decently by green trees. They serve coffee and black tea, which costs range from NT$ 100 to NT$ 250 (P 168.61 to P 421.52). They also serve pasta, risotto, and salad with a price range NT$ 180 to NT$ 480 (P 303.49 to P 809.31).
Other branches of the Trio are Trio Original which is near Taipei 101 and the Trio Bitters which it is only a few block from the Huashan 1914 Creative Park. The venues can also be rented for parties and such. Sometimes, they hold wine tasting events and training for bartending services.
The first hall on the west is where Fab Cafe is located. FabCafe is a cafe and at the same time a digital manufacturing service provider and training workshop. Digital manufacturing services include laser cutting, 3d printing, 3d scanning and 3d Doodler.
Fab Cafe has other branches outside Taiwan. In Taiwan, Fab Cafe works in partnership with Gabee, a cafe owned by Taiwan’s Barista champion. The price of their coffee starts at NT$ 130 (P 219.19) per hot cup. Then, they have also on their menu all-day breakfast, curry rice, salad, light meals, and desserts like cheesecake, ice cream, waffle, and affogato.
Conclusion – Creative Parks
Both Huashan 1914 Creative Park and Songshan Cultural and Creative Park are able to showcase the art industry in Taiwan as well as inspire visitors. But, if I were to choose between the two, I really prefer Songshan Cultural and Creative Park. It has larger space, has more things to see, and has more interactive activities. Huashan 1914 Creative Park though is great when they have many events and pop-up stores which are often held on weekends. You’ll just need to check their website and Facebook to know their latest events.
Another winery-turned-creative park can be visited at Hualien City, East Taiwan. Read also What Else to See in Hualien.