The Tainanese
Memorial Hall

Designer: Chao-Chun Wei
Time: 2021 spring  
Location: Tainan, Taiwan
A memorial building

History – The place of reminiscence

Nan-Shan cemetery, which the site used to be part of, formed during Ching Dynasty’s ruling of Taiwan (1683-1895) right outside of the former Tainan southern wall, for its superb topographical property under Chinese Feng-Shui’s evaluation—being a higher point overlooking the river. Till entering the era of Japanese colonial, in which new city masterplan curbed its expansion for further city development did its scale stopped expanding. As the city of Tainan grew, the cemetery gradually shrunk. New graves were banned in the area in 2008 while old ones were not forced to leave. Still remain here are some, with a major crematorium just down the street.

The site is here, now a verdant but chaotic sprawl of lives, sitting in tranquility between modern urban fabric and remnants of the former cemetery.

This parcel of land lies the city’s past of reminiscence, on which people bridge with those passed away through all forms of remembrance.

The Verge / The Axis

This is where the now periphery of Tainan City is marked—the site the point on which the mass of city is anchored. It is of two-sideness— the juxtaposition of buzzling road on the north, and the south the emptiness just a piece of sky framed by the lush. An axis runs along, piercing through the present(the running city and its dwellers) and the past (the static ancestors and their graves ), the living and the dead.

The city will pour all over someday, expanding until this used-to-be boundary engulfed, becoming part of it. Perhaps till that time it will be hard to ever be aware of this ancient city edge, the axis and anchor point. This happens often as a city rubbed out of its traces of layering trying to act as a complete whole.

But isn’t that more attracting to have a city of strata? To leave traces of various times and the moment of present becomes dynamic.

The Anchor Point

Thus, what will be built here will be a physical anchoring of this siting on the boundary, the emphasizing of axis, and that the collective memory of the past, present and the future city of Tainan could be condensed to the point.

It will be a memorial hall for all Tainanese, a place to remember the names that have made key contributions to this city.

Selected Tainanese of great influence will be recalled through inviting their family here for a long stay. Over this span of time, they will be hosting a series of events, such as casual talks, exhibitions, or even memorial concerts, all centering around the one to be remembered. Here in-depth looks into his or her life will be provided—their achievements, thoughts, relics and anecdotes alike.

There will also be space for permanent exhibition narrating briefly those significant people throughout the city’s history.

The Three Wings

The residential wing and the auditorium wing will be arranged in line with the axis of past- present, facing north and south respectively.

The residential wing directing north to the city signifies the present, in which the family invited will stay. The auditorium wing will have views out toward the south, the void undisturbed by modern metropolitan, in which the past quietly lies. A protruding deck overhead further emphasize the axis.

A soaring tower rise between the two wings—transcending beyond the axis of past-future. It will house the permanent exhibition within its spiraling-up circulation, in which the history of names vertically stacked. A viewing deck protrudes at the top, the axis underneath in the distance.

These wings are connected dynamically through central atrium traversed with an open-plan meditation space straddling the top.

The Bridge

The entire memorial hall is seated as a bridge both physically and structurally, protruding out form the street. Visitors enter via the two points where the structure touches ground at street level. On the third side a large structural wall curves along its east periphery, on which a hanging stair is supported, landing on the slope across the river.

The Contour

Previously intended as a small park, the now dilapidated landscape have long been lack of maintenance. The concrete height drop render the river inaccessible, the water untreated.
The relandscaping strategy is to emphasize the present contour, to directly extrude them to the graphing height (100 meters between each line), forming a kind of natural amphitheater for outdoor events. The last several contours are smoothened, to provide a expansive, plan landing, on which further series of events could be triggered along, or even right upon the water face.

#Being On the Verge

Standing on this parcel of land is like walking on the verge of a static, but living creature—one could clearly feel its pulse, its vibration aside— the realm just aside and never exceeds where one is standing.

This sensory feeling is further emphasized by the amplification of passing sound under its contrasting quietness, while encountering with random occurrence of lives.



Other drawings



In memory of…

Approaching form the buzzling city, at the end where the road then splayed in two, soaring light pierce through the night sky. On significant days of reminiscence, the tower will be in charge of this ritual. It becomes a point of reference on which people project their very respect. 

The auditorium rear glazing and the protruding deck directs view toward the lush greenery along the river. That’s a void clear of manmade structures, and where the history of this land quietly lies. The void allows for meditation and a backdrop for bringing up the past. Here the world is temporally behind, and stories were told.

The atrium is where the three wings, the two entrance points and the two hanging stairs converges. The superimposition of various vectors contribute to a dynamic forum of interaction. The open-airness provides sense of connection to the landscape, while also foreground the juxtaposition of the three wings. The setting sun in the west is then framed through the mass and the structure.

Down aside the river, the redesigned topography provides large expanse of shaded grassland for multivalent civic activities to take place. It is accessible form street level by stair, and elevator from the atrium level. The present contour is emphasized, to underscore the complex taking on an anchoring role of today towards the future. A huge natural amphitheater is formed. On the other side, the huge plunging, exaggerated “falling water” stair pierce from the bridge plan, descending down, brings people from the atrium all the way down to the river.

One spirals up the stair, encountering with short biographies and relics along, gradually feeling some weight, weary. It is history, a long trek through which past accumulated to what it is today.

The tower is partly opened to the outside, balustraded, overhung, and glazed, in expect for a gradually detached, unbiased vision as one ascends. A viewing deck protrudes at the top, the axis underneath in the distance.

The experience in the residential wing is of a streetscape usually found in the mountainous villages across the country. In these places that the sky seems to be at hand-reach, people find connection within the blue. The residential space relinks this kind of sense with the visiting family, where they may gather after long separation, for reinforcing their own different memories of the same people. At the peak the horizontal glazing overlooks the present city, and at the bottom across the doorway, the past is there waiting.
It was angled, gesturing reminiscence some sort of appointment when people met with those slipped away at a point between ground and heaven.

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