New Taoyuan City Main Public Library, Taiwan

Creating a Culture Cluster


©Azusa Sekkei


Located in the Zhongzheng Arts District of Taoyuan, the new city public library, to be situated next door to the Taoyuan Arts Center, is the newest building block in what is intended to become a cultural center in the city. No longer just a book repository, libraries have embraced the digital age and are now providing additional activities for the community such as lectures, occupational therapy (OT) projects, theme restaurants, etc. In the case of the Taoyuan City Library, a cinema is also to be added.


The competition for this US$60 million project was organized as an invited, one-stage competition—not counting the initial short-listing phase—which concluded with the selection of 10 firms. In the first, “tender” phase, a local Taiwanese firm could, but was not required to, team up with a foreign architecture firm. In any case, the “Representative Tenderer had to be a registered architect in Taiwan, but were encouraged to invited international architects to join with them. Thus, foreign firms, not registered in Taiwan, were not allowed to enter without teaming up with a domestic firm.


The ten local “tenderers” were:


  • Habitech Architects
  • Bio-Architecture Formosana
  • HCW Architects & Associates
  • M.H. WANG Architects and Associates
  • Chien Architects & Associates
  • Imagineering Architects (Taiwan)
  • T.C.K. Architect Engineer Planner
  • Q-LAB
  • Cosmos International


Although we do not know who the five local unranked firms teamed up with during the final adjudication process, three of the five finalists teams did include outside participation, including that of the winner.


■ First place – T.C.K. Architect Engineer Planner + Azusa Sekkei (Japan)

■ Second place – Ricky Liu & Associates (Taiwan)

■ Third place – Habitech Architects + Tange Associates (Japan)

■ Fourth place – Bio-Architecture Formosana + MVRDV (Netherlands)

■ Fifth place – Q-LAB (Taiwan)


Although one outside structural engineer, Abolhassan Astaneh-Asl, a professor at Berkeley, was originally scheduled to participate on the jury, the catastrophic collapse of a highrise in Teheran caused by a fire, resulted in his call to investigate the disaster. Still, one should note that five of the eight panelists were architects from Taiwan.

The Design Challenge


   The project site, which is approximately 11 acres in area, is already the location of the modern Taoyuan Arts Center (2010). By locating the library at the top of the site, just across from the TAC on the opposite corner, a large area working as a plaza is left intact.


   Sustainability was on the agenda, and several of the ranked firms openly referenced this theme, including the winner. The jury commended the winner’s idea of a spiral and “Tree of Life” as major components in their project’s organizational concept. Another important strategy of the Azusa Sekkei/T.C.K. plan (below) was the location of the cinema in a separate structure, just behind the main library building—allowing for events to take place there evenings without the need to keep the main building open after hours.


©Azusa Sekkei

©Azusa Sekkei



By using pod-like forms as the principal organizational elements of their design, Ricky Liu & Associates, the second place winner, referenced the natural ponds so common to the area as an organic form. By translating this into the building form, it most closely referenced its neighbor in architectural expression. From above, this reference can be effective; but from a pedestrian perspective, and barring an explanation, this clue could hardly lead the casual observer to the same conclusion. This did, however, allow for overhangs, and suggested easy access—in the form of penetration into the building from all sides.


©Ricky Liu & Associates










Tange Associates’ design also references the “Shuyuan” farm ponds, but in a much more abstract sense: here a large open void under the roof is created, serving as a place for both shelter and activities, and even as an outdoor theater. The “grand staircase” is a successful strategy, at least as a symbol, and could even be a reference to that famous escalator at the Pompidou Centre in Paris.


©Tange Associates



   MVRDV’s perfectly square-like structure on the outside is in complete contrast to its curvilinear PAC neighbor. All that ends at the entrance to the building, where one experiences something entirely different. Grand curves are the rule of the day, from the lobby to the book stacks. One might think that Zaha Hadid had a hand in the design of the interior, which appears in many ways to have taken a clue from ZHA’s library at the Vienna Wirtschafts Universität.






   It is not clear what cultural image Q-LAB was attempting to convey in their design of a massive structure to house the library. Once in the interior, there is something temple-like in the massive space designated as the arrival area. The terrace-like stacking of the structure hardly serves to diminish its overbearing relationship to its neighbor. Although sustainability is mentioned, it seems too much like a necessary add-on, and hardly organic in nature.




   The contracting and beginning of construction is to commence in 2018, with the completion scheduled for 2021.