MVRDV’s winning idea to convert an old shopping mall and parking garage into a public street and urban lagoon
MVRDV, with the Urbanist Collaborative and LLJ Architects, won a competition to transform “T-axis,” 590,000 square feet of China-Town Mall and Haian Road, in downtown Tainan, Taiwan. To reconnect the city and nature, the China-Town Shopping Mall will be removed, a green, public corridor will be built along Haian Road, and an urban lagoon will be created within the former underground parking garage. Construction is planned to begin fall of 2016. In 1983, China-Town Mall was built along the city's canal. However, the structure disconnected the city and its waterfront, “becoming like the rotten tooth of downtown Tainan,” according to MVRDV. The team's proposal aims to establish a city and waterfront connection. After disassembly, China-Town Mall’s exposed structure will be used in a new urban lagoon and green square. This public space will include playgrounds, small commercial units, a tourism info point, a teahouse, and a gallery. A green promenade and artificial beach along the canal will connect the city life to the previously obstructed view of the sea. Streets connecting to the T-axis will also receive greenery and traffic plans, in order to make the entire surrounding area pedestrian friendly. To relieve Haian Road of traffic, new transport nodes will be set in place east of the city. At nighttime, the road will be completely closed, giving pedestrians and small business more room for activities. Currently, pavements throughout T-axis are varied. The winning design proposes unifying pavements based on functions, in order to improve way-finding. To further create cohesion, ventilation shafts, elevators, and entrances to the underground parking garage will be wrapped in glass and extended to create pavilions, kiosks, and viewing towers. The team also worked with the sustainability/landscape consultant Progressive Environmental, structural engineers Urban Sculptor Planning & Designing Consultants, transport planners THI Consultants, and MEP engineers Songsing.