Visit the architect

TTaipei Guest House repairs in two stages, 2003 number one issue carry on the first recovery project in annual August , carry on the second recovery project in July of 2005. ' Xu YuJian building office ' holds the repair of the first time.

We visit ' slowly abundant to good for building ' male architect of forest will it be will it be one o'clock morning January 8. Architect Lin is correlated with for eight years of investigation research work engaged in the historical siting , has been engaged in the recovery project practice experience of the historical site for five years. Take on Taibei University of Science and Technology building department and university department of architecture , Buddhist of China , hold the lecturer concurrently at present.

For what reason that it・s your firm had been chosen to do the repair?

It・s was an open competition, and the architects・ ideas were scored. To our honor, we won the first prize and obtained the opportunity to repair the Guest House
Were the conditional limits for the competitors?

Yes, the competitors were required to have the experience repairing secondary monument, and there were like forty or fifty architect teams qualified. Our experience of repairing Chungsan Hall and the Modern Art Museum made us qualified.

Your team have repaired which monuments and buildings so far?

We have done the Chungsan Hall, Modern Art Museum, Hukuo Old Street, the Chunhuang Temple on Dihua Street, Chichi Train Station after the 921 earthquake, Buopi neighborhood in Bankah, and the Fan-shaped Garage in Chunghua. And now we are repairing the Sanshia Old Street.

Did your team work with particular workers and factories?

We hope to use the traditional materials and methods in repairing monuments. Materials could be order-made, but many of the working skills and methods are lost. There are many skills and methods that Taiwanese workers and technicians can・t do; we have to invited Japanese technicians to teach us. Although there are skills and methods used more than a century ago, but Japanese technicians had learned from their teachers because the skills are still useful and not out-fashion in their lives. Keeping the old skills and use them is a good way to preserve traditions, besides, it could keep the technicians from losing their jobs.

Do we have monument repairing courses training the future architects to be in school?

There are seminars and conferences hold by the Council of Cultural Affairs about traditional architectural skills and methods. We need more than old skills and methods in repair; latest technologies are needed as well.

Why did you enter the business of repair buildings?

I majored in architecture in university, and I found that there were only a few of architects who could build the buildings with their own ideas; they have to answer to the market. But then I found I can do something in repairing the old buildings, so I just jointed this field, and I enjoy it very much so far.

There are many pretty buildings built during the Japanese occupation, and which is your personal best?

My personal best is Taipei Guest House, then the Bank of Taiwan, and then the Office of the President.

Why we had the Bank of Taiwan during Japanese occupation?

It was called the Central Bank at that time, and the building was built beautifully, too. When the Japanese ruled Taiwan, they built great western style building for important offices to show Taiwanese people their power.

Why you gave us the tour to Buopi neighborhood too?

The Boupi neighborhood and Taipei Guest House are two different classic types of architectures, one is for common people and the other is for the governor. They are both residential built in the same period of time. And the remaining of the Boupi neighborhood is a symbol of civil culture being marked as an important public property. Unlike the well remained grand mansions, buildings that were in commoners・ everyday life are not preserved mostly, because people think that civil culture is relatively not important; and have no need to remain and protect the culture.

Is repairing old buildings environmental friendly?

It is the most environmental friendly way to keep an old building. We could keep many old things and reuse them.

Were there difficulties building the Guest House?

The governor spent a lot of money building the Guest House, and that was about a quarter of Taiwan・s taxation at the moment. But the critics said it was too extravagant on the media. The Emperor sent the governor back to Japan and asked him about this, however, the governor answered that people wouldn・t know how string the empire is until they see the emperor・s residence. That・s was a nice answer to put the governor out of his problem.

Did the downtown area changed during the Japanese occupation?

In the Chung dynasty, the most prosperous area of Taipei was the area near Boupi neighborhood, and when the Japanese ruled, it was the Dadao harbor and Dihua Street where many western style buildings are still kept.

How massive was Taipei Guest House?

The Guest House was built to show the Taiwanese how great the Japanese Empire was, and the emperor sent his son to stay in the Guest House after he received the governor. That made the governor impossible to live in the great mansion anymore. And the Guest House was actually built over ten times bigger than the governor・s residence should be in rule.

Did the usage of Taipei Guest House change?

Yes, it was first the governor・s residence, then the place to retreat Japanese royalty. And after the Japanese left, it has been used the place to receive foreign guests.

How much money and time were spent in the repair of Taipei Guest House?

It is the most gorgeous building in Taiwan; we spent four years and three hundred million repairing it. But if Japanese are repairing a building like Taipei Guest House, they would spend eight years and two billion on it.

Why doing research before the repair?

We have to know everything about the building to reappear it.

Why holding twice international conferences?

As you can see from the two different names, we have different purposes. One is the International Conference of the Investigation of Dissect Methods. And the other is the International Conference of Monument Reuse.

Is the investigation of dissect methods tearing down the house?

To put this phrase in a simple way is to have a thorough examination for the building, and to test a certain part to confirm its character. We have to check every part of the building to find the problems. For example, we dug the foundation of the building・s floor and tore the carpet; we found beautiful bricks. But due to leaking caused by the air condition system, there were many wholes on it. And we did many researches then found the brick came from England. Doing massive researches before start repairing the building to keep the building as it was when it was built is the goal of the investigation of dissect methods, and Taipei Guest House is the first case of the kind in the nation.

Were there some pioneering plans during the repair?

Beside the conferences, we invited the top hotel managers and architectures to our discussion. They also offered many opinions, such as building a restaurant or hotel behind the pond, or provide accommodation in the Guest House. But after our guidance and narration, they all said :That was a stupid idea of ours, we should never build a house there. It should be what it was. ;

Did you add air condition system in the repair?

We hope that the building could be used in modern way after the repair, so we add many modernized facilities. We put air condition system which is the smallest in the world between first and second floor, but you just can・t see it.

How to add fire control facilities when repairing monuments?

First is to alarm, second is to start the fire control facilities, the last is to evacuate. And it・s not possible for us to place fire extinguishers in monuments,that looks really terrible. So the point is to prevent the fire from happening.

How to strengthen the building during the repair?

There are many restrictions for us doing that, so we used a hi-tech method strengthening the structure. We grouted and put steel bars between walls to achieve our goal.

Why Taipei Guest House and the Office of the President face different directions?

The traditional Chinese buildings are north or south faced, but then the Japanese did some changes. Then we have east and west faced buildings now.

How was the interior designed?

Basically, the interior was designed to show the differences of people in different ranks. There are aisle for guests and aisle for maid. And the banquet hall was placed closest to the garden; guests could enjoy the banquet with the wonderful view. Rooms for important people were in the back and higher place of the building, where can see the north-faced garden, and the light is gentle. Taipei Guest House is a mansion that combines its garden, living, and the lights.

How shall we appreciate Taipei Guest House?

Besides the building, we have to appreciate how people lived in the mansion lived. Not every rich person has taste now; you can see that from a famous Taiwanese saying :You wouldn・t know the proper way of your life unless your family has been rich for three generations;. Every room in the mansion is designed in various styles according to the fireplace in the room, and there must be French windows in every room. The governor・s room even had French window around the room. Therefore, what furniture should be placed in the room and where in the room should it be placed should be carefully concerned. And the interior was designed in Victorian style because Japanese wanted to imitate the British Empire, the most powerful nation that time.

Taipei Guest House is only one hundred years old, why it had to be repaired?

Monuments are cultural treasures, we have to keep them and maintain them. Taipei Guest House is one of a kind in monuments; it・s a Baroque building with Victorian style inside. And it・s a national monument, we have the duty to protect it and pass down to the nest generation. There aren・t many monuments in Taiwan, but there are many foreign ancient buildings that still have people live inside. When I visited Prague, Czech, I was astonished. I saw the other side of those ancient buildings. People there only earn one-six of Taiwanese people, but the three hundred-year old building with a chocolate shop inside is not even a monument there. Buildings that are over six hundred-year old are qualified to be monuments in Prague, and there are more than ten thousand places qualified.

What・s the difference between repairing monuments and building new architecture?

We found many thing that we didn・t understand or something we don・t even knew from the documents and records, therefore, we had many surprises. Unlike building new architectures, everything is in our plan and control.

Were there some interesting things happened during the repair?

Yes, there were many. For example, when the Japanese knew that we were repairing Taipei Guest House, they planned to give us one hundred cherries (sakura). The national secretary asked us why we can・t plant the cherries in the garden. We told him that the garden of Taipei Guest House is a combination of Chinese and Japanese gardening and architecture for thousands of years. And there is a rank in Chinese gardening for flowers and trees, there were 36 ranks, and cherry was not even in the ranking. That means cherry is not a elegant flower in Chinese tradition, it・s not good enough. If we planted one hundred cherries there, that wouldn・t look good, so we turn down there suggestion. Japanese learn the art of Chinese gardening, they just couldn・t agree that the most elegant flower for them is not good enough for Chinese to plant in gardens. Sometimes we just have to walk in the history to feel the tradition and culture, not just learn them from text books.

What・s the meaning of repairing Taipei Guest House?

It・s passing down the traditions which have been passed for over a century from the builders of Taipei Guest House. And it・s time for us to pass the traditions down in its best shape. According to the experience form the 1995

Which is the best part in repairing the Guest House?

This is a though question for me, just like I couldn・t answer which is the best part of my children. However, we did our best in every part repairing the Guest House.

Overall, are you happy with your work repairing the Guest House?

I am, actually. And we feel so comforted when we receive the tourists・praises.

2007 CyberFair Project ID 5051