MVRDV redeveloping dilapidated shopping mall into urban lagoon

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Construction of the lagoon is expected to begin late next year(Credit: MVRDV)

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Following an architectural competition, Dutch firm MVRDV has been given the nod to lead the redevelopment of a waterfront area in Tainan, Taiwan. The T-Axis project will see a rundown 1980's shopping mall demolished to create a pedestrian-friendly public space boasting an artificial beach, urban lagoon, and retail areas.

Rather than a new beginning, MVRDV pitches its masterplan as restoring the natural beauty of the area's pre-20th Century landscape.

"Tainan's natural lagoons and water network served as the city's base for its marine and fishing industry up until the early 20th century," says the firm. "China-Town Mall was built next to the canal in 1983. A large commercial structure of little architectural quality, it disconnected the city from its waterfront and soon fell into decline, becoming like the rotten tooth of downtown Tainan."

Once duly demolished, the area previously home to the shopping mall, dubbed T-Axis, will become the center of the new public space and feature an urban lagoon created in the former underground parking garage.

Whether due to budget or design considerations (we'd guess the former), signs of the maligned mall will remain in place, including concrete structural columns and ventilation shafts and elevators. These latter structures will be wrapped in glass and extended to serve as pavilions, kiosks, and viewing towers – for a clue as to how this will work, we can perhaps look to the firm's Glass Farm.

"This flooded old mall is going to be a poetic lagoon and an hip urban pool: a symbolic act," says MVRDV's Winy Maas.

Additional plans for the site include a community garden, tropical garden and garden cafe, in addition to education center and tourist information center. Local plant species will be planted in abundance to create a "green corridor," and sunbathing areas will be created. Furthermore, MVRDV aims to relieve local traffic congestion with a reconfigured road route that will involve closing the area off to vehicles at night in an effort to make the area more pedestrian-friendly.

The project also involves LLJ Architects and The Urbanist Collective. Construction is expected to begin late next year.

Source: MVRDV

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