Taiwan's Gone Mall Crazy

Wooooow…and I thought the building sprees were all in commie China.


Not all of them on that page are going to be built. I know, because I used to work for one of those developers before the economy went to hell.

A few years ago, the government decided that shopping malls were part of that internationalization and “unstoppable global trend” thing that politicians here love to talk about and use as justification for just about anything that pops into their heads. And so it announced it would make things easier for malls to get built. So lots of companies jumped in. Most of them, though, didn’t know much about what they were doing. (The company I worked for was an exception.) But with the economy the way it’s been and so much retail space already available, it’s difficult to get such enormous projects realized.

Sandman was quite right, BTW, to remark earlier about the poor traffic flow in Core Pacific (a.k.a. the Death Star); it’s a mess. But I give C.P. points for audacity.

Bad circulation? I’m surprised it passed the Local Authority’s access and egress requirements. I’m sure there’s at least one good path of travel around the Death Star; but I’d need “the force” to find it. However, it’s scale is quite impressive, as are both the movie theatre (with it’s comfortable, adjustable chairs) and the Welcome Supermarket downstairs that sells Haagendaaz Icecream convenient enough for us to smuggle in to the theatre…

Take a look at the Breeze Centre: the building’s already uglier than dog’s balls on a baby’s bum, and the surrounding traffic congestion has been completely chaotic. Again, the Local Authority has probably been reponsible for these issues, but proabably chose to ignore them.

But…, you never know… as Taiwan realises a few more of these projects, the developers might soon start trying to outdo each other. I doubt it could ever reach the scale of Japanese “Monumentalism”, but as an architect, I can only hope that these developments might be the catalyst for a better appreciation of the built environment.


You’re an architect, Babou? What do you specialize in?

The Breeze Center is a complete Chick Mall™. Every shop in there caters to women. There’s not even a men’s restroom on the ground floor. The only useful things in it are the movie theater and the supermarket downstairs, which sells healthy foods such as frozen dinners and pop-tarts.

That said, I do like the atrium-like main thoroughfare they have.

The Droid Control Ship, I mean the Core Pacific, is bizarre, but on a grand scale. It’s so wierd I like it. I keep hoping that big ball will just up and roll away someday during an earthquake. Or perhaps a small boy in a single fighter ship could penetrate its defenses and accidentally hit the power coupling. Either way.

Mitsukoshi is building another part of its complex next to Warner Village. I suspect that eventually they will connect all of the bits with corridors and cover the whole thing with a glass dome. Falling-crane resistant, of course.

The US-style mall isn’t a good model for Taiwan, but you have to admit, with the weather like it is, sometimes it’s good to have a nice, large, interior space to wander around in.

The American firm Jerde that designed Core Pacific also designed a unique looking reddish colored mall in Japan with a canal. Looks like something from Disney World. Saw it in Architectural Week or some other magazine. Guess the Taiwanese liked it alot.

Hey Poagao, I checked out your webpage yesterday. It’s interesting. Read what you said about Breeze Mall. From the pics I’ve seen it does look like a mall tho, even if it might not have men’s clothing or electronics. The architecture looks decent. I’m not a mall person myself. I’m more interested in the architecture. Does anyone know the status of the Go2 City complexes?

Breeze isn’t a frickin Mall. It’s a department store with a few other stores throne in. And the Living Mall/Core Pacific thingy (why does it have to have so many damn names?) is half department store too, and despite it’s impressive exterior, it IS hell inside due to them fucking up already poor circulation with extra ‘fences’ and things. I generally love malls like they have in HK and Singapore, just wish we could get some in Taipei.

PS who said the cinemas in Living Mall were good?(or was it sposd to be Breeze). I went and saw Star Wars there and we were in about the 10th row and still had to look back and up (sore necks) to see the screen. Shitty.


Guess everyone has their own definition of what a “mall” is. But it’s not uncommon for malls to have several big department stores, like many in the States have.

10th row is still pretty close to the screen.

IMHO the cinema at the Living Mall is pretty good, perhaps you ended up in the wrong room though 10th row is a bit close.
The design is rather impressive but there is nothing much which attracts me for shopping.
Isn’t it the biggest shopping complex in Asia?

Though the Breeze Center caters more for women in terms of shopping they have a great supermarket, good food court, cinema and the Hands Talung store (6th level I think) where you can find houshold appliances, a few DIY stuff and some toys.
Nothing wrong with it’s architecture, in that location they probably didn’t have much choice.

As far as I know, GO2 City is still a non-starter, which is a real shame, because it would have been a great mall – certainly the best in Taiwan. But I haven’t checked on progress reports on any of the malls in several months.

When I was referring to the “traffic” of Core Pacific, I meant interior foot traffic (as Bri was talking about), not the exterior situation with cars and delivery vehicles. But that’s a mess, too. (And why can’t the bus stops be by or at least close to the mall, instead of so far down the street?)

I wouldn’t call Breeze a mall – but it’s an improvement on much of what’s in the neighborhood. One thing about the theater there: Movies start on time! I missed the first few minutes of the latest Star Wars because I’d made the foolish assumption that I’d be subjected, a la Warner, to half an hour of promos and commercials before the main flick. Not a bad theater.

I like the theater in Core Pacific best, but I’d hate to be stuck in one of the first rows.

I hate the death star’s cinema - the rows are not on enough of an angle, so all you can see is the head in front you. The screen’s too low. The rows are too close together. I really like the Breeze cinema though.


Oops! Thyrdrail, it appears as though the secret’s out… yes I’m an Architect. Most of my work has been design-related, which I find to be the most interesting (you know, drawing pictures of big erections, and the like).

In Oz, an architect is usually a designer, project manager or documentor. I enjoy the first two roles, but they’re not common for we “young architects”. Back home, I was designing mostly public buildings, commercial fitouts, a few houses, and the occasional design competition. I also spent some time in Malaysia doing schematic designs for high-budget projects (resorts, shopping centres, office buildings, etc). This was great fun, as the client would encourage us to be completely creative. He came to me once with the brief: “I want a Performing Arts building that reminds me of a piano”. The challenge, of course, was to make it look like a piano that had a right to be there (i.e. fit in with the surrounding context).

It Taiwan, I’m now learning Chinese and doing… marketing(!). I pick up the pencil occasionally, mostly for some fitout design, and help out my father when I return home. But I feel its important to develop another language/skill to take home. I love architecture but the construction industry is volatile and unpredictable, in always being subject to economic forces.

What about you, Thyrdrail?


Some scattered thoughts to various posts:

Though, as thyrdrail mentions, the initial concept for the Core Pacific project was envisioned by the Jerde Partnership, I believe Chris Yao’s practice finished it. Given the relatively quality detailing his firm is noted for (like the concrete and glass building at SE corner of Ming Shen and Fu- Hsin), I am surprised by the very poor detailing of the end result here. The atrium is a mess with absolutely no coordination amongst materials, lighting, planting, signage, floor patterns, etc., and that’s a shame because it could have been quite a lovely space.

Also, the concept for the park area was entirely lost. Originally, the park was stepped down, amphitheter-like, to the basement floors so that people could literally walk under the enormous sphere “floating” overhead.

Even this early, management has become a problem, too, as cardboard boxes have already become permanent fixtures on the upper-floor retail areas.

I would have to agree with Babou that Breeze is a hellaciously ugly building, but, at least the interior atrium area is a pleasant enough space as is the terrace restaurant/coffee shop area. The lower level fountain and outdoor court leaves a lot to be desired, though.

I think the traffic consultants for CP and Breeze are the same firm and that they’re also doing the BR4 Project (next to Chunghsiao/Fu-Hsing MRT). Tough work for them with these projects as their job is to convince city planners that streets that were not built to handle the enormous traffic loads will somehow magically be able to handle them if only the circulation is properly laid out. Not that the city is going to object too heavily. What are they gonna tell people “No, you can’t put up a 10 - 11-figure investment because our streets suck?”

I think there will eventually be better “malls” here, but it will take some time with the enormity of the investment, the economy in its current state and the fact that these first few malls have not exactly been raging successes. If these projects had been better put-together, they may have been more encouraging.

The MetroWalk in Chungli is a pretty close approximation of a US-style mall stacked up to 4 or 5 floors. Good effort to bring in daylight to the interior, but not exactly an inspiring space, and horrible location.

I think Shin Kong is making an interesting effort. It seems as if their strategy is to stick to a formula that already works in Taiwan and drown the market with it by over-building it so aggressively that no one could ever imagine putting up any competition in the area.

Last note on CP: up to the Cp project Jerde had been trying for quite awhile to work the concept of an enormous sphere into his projects, whether an actual sphere, as in CP, or carved out of the negative spaces in the models. CP, I think, is his only “hit”, and part of the trick was coming up with a parti that, in section, looks almost exactly like Core Pacific’s corporate logo, a circle unioned with a square.

I also spent some time in Malaysia doing schematic designs for high-budget projects (resorts, shopping centres, office buildings, etc).

Would you mind to name a few? I have spent a few years down there so I might have seen your work.

Nah, the cinemas in the Death Star are crap. But they just don’t make cinemas right anywhere anymore. A decent movie theatre should have the screen down low, on the same level as the front row (but well in front) and the seats rising steeply behind it. In these theatres the front row is the best seat in the house. Today’s theatres try to cramp more seats into the space by raising the screen so you don’t have to see over the person in front of you’s head, and sticking ten more rows in front. Nowadays if you are in the front row, you have to bend your neck back 90% and you can’t see anything that’s going on on the sides of the screens. Soon they’ll probably have everyone standing up in a flat room(think how many peopel you could fit in) watching images projected on the ceiling.


Regarding Core Pacific, I disagree with you, Abekong. I really love the interior. It’s very futuristic in appearance. Though you may think his design is messy, that may have been his intention. After seeing his initial design renderings, I had the impression that Jon Jerde had in mind a very colorful, boisterous, and animated atmosphere, and that’s exactly what CP City is. If you view some of his other works, you will notice that he extends that theme throughout. I’m just somewhat disappointed with the exterior, e.g., the beige color and the dull surface treatment, as if Taiwan needs more bland, beige-colored buildings that already propagates much of its landscape. Of course, the overall shape with the sphere is very radical and innovative. That I like very much. But I think the earlier renderings illustrated a glass sphere, which I liked even better. I think the entire complex would’ve looked better covered in sleek, reflective glass. But again, I guess I am only saying that because Taiwan is just a sea of grey and beige colored concrete receptacles, so I think more glass structures would brighten the cities up. Check out this other site that has a few nice buildings. Look ma, no bathroom tiles!!!

Well, I wish we had this in the States. I’m generally not a mall person, but being a night owl, I’d love to go shopping, eating or catch a movie due to sheer boredom at 4am. Sure is great for avoiding crowds and waiting on line. And they say NYC is the city that never sleeps?? HA!!! What a lie. Most businesses close by 9-10pm. The only things open are a few restaurants, Korean delis, a few remaining porno stores that haven’t been shut down by Giuliani (not that I patronize them ), and the subway. Asian cities definitely has NYC beat for the 24-hr title. Consider yourselves all lucky!!

I really like some of Kris Yao’s work. It’s truly refreshing. Have you all seen his website? He added a few new pics of his projects. There’s also an article about him in World Architecture Magazine. His work was highlighted in their monthly country focus section along with C.Y.Lee and others, and in November 1999 their country focus was Taiwan, titled “Coming of Age”. You have to register to use their site, but registration is free. Also, in the March 2001 edition, they had a short excerpt about the renovation of the Capital Plaza in front of the Presidential Office. Does anybody know about this project and the construction status of it? Some Spanish designer won the competition. His idea is interesting, but I question the practicality of constructing a large expanse of surface with glass, e.g., flooding, earthquakes, and guys in the underground level looking up girls’ skirts on the above ground level.

Regarding C.Y.Lee, I have a like/hate relationship with his work. One one hand, I admire the fact that he tries to incorporate traditional Asian/Chinese design aesthetics with western-style architecture, but on the other hand the results of some of his work are just plain BUTT UGLY!!! What the f**k was he thinking with that one?? And to think he was allowed to build the rest of Taiwan’s skyscrapers after that!! However, there are a few exceptions. And this one is pretty nice. Has anyone gone there? The jury’s still out on this one. Interesting and unique shape - definitely original - but I don’t know about those tiny green windows, so I’m holding my breath til I see the final product. I really hope it looks good for his and Taiwan’s sake. You know how much media attention this will get for being the world’s tallest?

To answer your question, Babou, hmmm…yeah, I guess you can say I have just a tiny affinity for architecture. And yes, I did want to pursue it before. But I didn’t due to some of the reasons you had stated: volatility, economy-sensitive, etc. Back then when I got out of high school, the States was in a recession. But in addition to that, I heard some negative things about the field like the low starting salaries; the slow, tedious processes; the bureaucracy (like getting permits to do anything). Also, I like to work alone, and as you know you have to work with a team of engineers, consultants, etc. And many architects don’t even get to design. They just do the small miscellaneous tasks. But sometimes whenever I’m walking around the city and see either really beautiful or horrendous looking buildings, I start to wish I had pursued it. But I’ve already decided to pursue industrial/product design and maybe delve into computer animation a bit. So I hope you didn’t mind the above rambling critiques from an amateur.

Oh and hey, Babou, have any of the erections you designed actually got built? I remembering seeing a photo of a temple in Malaysia that looked very phallic and just thought of you. Looks like it has your name on it.

Christ, I can’t believe how much time I’ve spent on this post. I think I’ve become a forum addict. I’m also a frequent visitor to the skyscraper.com forum, the worldskyscraper.com forum, the koreanherald.com forum, and other forums I can’t name now cuz they’re all a blur. I need to get a new hobby. If I was in Taipei, I’d be heading to CP City now, grab a bite to eat, and maybe head to the bookstore. But since I’m in L.A., I’m going to the gym. What else to do in L.A.? See yaz.

quote[quote]I had the impression that Jon Jerde had in mind a very colorful, boisterous, and animated atmosphere, and that's exactly what CP City is. [/quote]

Man oh man, I can’t wait till you visit Taipei and (try to) actually walk through that dump rather than basing your opinions on pictures!

I hope you post your first-hand impressions here – it will be interesting to see the change in viewpoint!

Originally posted by sandman:

Man oh man, I can’t wait till you visit Taipei and (try to) actually walk through that dump rather than basing your opinions on pictures!

I hope you post your first-hand impressions here – it will be interesting to see the change in viewpoint!

Hmm…what is that quote: A picture says a thousand words? Or something like that…

quote[quote] And this one is pretty nice. Has anyone gone[url=http://www.echeng.com/travel/taiwan2001/temple/]there?[/url] ([url=http://www.chungtai.org.tw/main_frame.htm]Chungtai temple's main site[/url])[/quote]

Yeah, US$100 million carbunkle.

Certainly impressive (isn’t it shiny!) but mainly for being monumentally tacky. Such resolve, such single-mindedness!

It’s Zen, but not as we know it.

Ha Ha! I could imagine a Stalinist designer coming up with something like that! What an ugly building.