Alishan Tourist Routes-Fenchihu Station

Alishan, Taiwan, R.O.C. | 2003


Taiwan is at a crossroads, culturally and architecturally. As the nation itself transforms from a legacy of industrialization and low-cost construction to a service economy based on modern, world-class institutions, the growth of cities like Taipei accelerates in marked contrast to the abundant natural beauty of the island and its rich culture. Taiwan's first wave of industrialization is now complete. It is crucial to seize this opportunity to move building culture into a flexible new ecological modality. A new development of tourist infrastructure at Alishan should be thought out recognizing that in this particular place, a global climactic spectrum is represented within two thousand meters of altitude. This unique situation makes possible the creation of an integrated economic and tourist model. ONE DEGREE OF LATITUDE = ONE KILOMETER OF ALTITUDE This is a crucial equation in the understanding of the potential of the Alishan Mountain as a tourist site. It allows both an ecological and cultural connection between Taiwan and a family of nations via a material argument about culture in the new global society: that new regionalisms can be constructed at all levels of material practice. It is our conviction that the opportunities offered by the site reside not only in the revelation of its existing conditions and cultural history but also in the possibilities of future potential offered by this unique cross-section through multiple climates. In order for Alishan to compete as a major tourist destination this intersection of train line and ecosystem must be made continuous with a comprehensive tour experience. It is as important to bring new ecologies to the site as to celebrate the old ones. This does not mean a superficial or invasive overlay of uses on the site, but rather a projection of new and exciting possibilities that would emerge from a coherent utilization of the inherent ecological structure. What we are proposing is the development of micro-agriculture to support international cuisine tourism along the Alishan train line. We propose transforming the Alishan railroad right-of-way into an agricultural strip, supplying a series of specialty restaurants and a microeconomy of taste tourism. The opposition of nature and culture can no longer be conceived of as a simple dialectic. Indeed, models of thought and technique compel us to achieve our goals, paradoxically, through deeper levels of artifice. Agriculture maintains a varied and dynamic landscape of extreme variance. A Journey up the Alishan Mountain is a journey through four distinct ecosystems. We propose to harness this difference and accentuate it, so that the different climactic regions are reflected in a gradient of culture, cuisine, and landscape along the line. MODULATING FOREST TYPES. Each geometry locks into a certain material system: spacing, periodicity of fluctuation, course, and the forms that it rides over. The effects of graphic integration include: structural spacing, planting rows, The complex overlap creates new patterns which are no longer reducible to their constituent parts.

Project Info

First Prize International Competition  |  Gross Floor Area: 3600m²  |  Type: Tourist Center, Bridge  |  Structure: Multiple


Project Credits


Jesse Reiser + Nanako Umemoto


Design Team

Eva Perez de Vega Steele, Jason Scroggin, Jonathan D. Solomon


Interns and Assistants

Joe Kobayashi, Yuya Suzuki, Keisuke Kitagawa, Alver Mensana, Akari Takebayashi, Akira Nakamura, Aki Eto, Arthur Chu, David Nam, Ian Gordon


Structural Engineer

Cecil Balmond, Charles Walker, Ove Arup & Partners, London


Architectural Consultant

Philip Fei, Fei and Cheng, Taipei

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