The Taiwanese government is looking to build a new ferry terminal to accommodate an increasing passenger volume and also, foster a tourism industry for post-war Kinmen. After fielding proposals from around the globe, it was a concept from Japanese architecture firm Junya Ishigami that won out, the judges deeming its mountain-inspired design would best define their vision for Port of Kinmen in the 21st century.

After four decades of military presence, a lifting of martial law in 1992 paved the way for Kinmen, an archipelago of islands between Taiwan and mainland China, to evolve into a thoroughfare for residents traveling between the two countries. The establishment of trade and transportation routes that followed saw Kinmen become Taiwan's national gateway for maritime arrivals from China.

In holding an international competition, the Taiwan government's aim was to yield a design that would entail a modern, international class terminal to improve the passenger experience, stimulating other sectors of the local economy in the process. The new Port of Kinmen Passenger Service Center will include customs offices, arrival and departure lobbies, tourist information centers, dining areas and duty free shops.

With the port located quite close to China's mainland and only 2 km (1.24 miles) from the major city of Xiamen, the competition drew some concepts designed, in part, to catch the eye of the sea-gazing inhabitants of the Chinese coastline. The proposal of Californian firm Tom Wiscombe Architecture won second place and resembles five giant crystals nestled in a long box. This creates a silhouette-effect inspired by Kinmen's architecture, a history the firm says is defined by the complex and varied roof ridges seen around the island.

Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects, also based in the US, put forward a design with a rooftop park, home to plum tree orchards and water features. Winning third place, this concept also features a jagged outline with folds in the roof designed to blend in with the mountainous surroundings.

The design of Spanish firm Mias Architects won an Honorable Mention, comprising a large parklands with shelter offered in the form of giant umbrella-like structures. These umbrellas could be covered in glass, fabric or solar panels and would give the terminal a train station feel with open air arrival and departure lobbies. Also landing an Honorable Mention were fellow countrymen at firm Miralles Tagliabue, whose concept focused on maximizing the efficiency of the terminal by basing the design on flows of arriving and departing passengers.

Though each of the shortlisted candidates balanced practicality with unique design elements, it was Junya Ishigami's that would ultimately triumph. Spanning 500 meters (1,600 ft), the winning concept is essentially a man-made mountain range with a three-level ferry terminal inside.

The team set out to design a "rich ecological system in the artificial site." Each layer is smaller in surface area than the one beneath it, enabling the team to incorporate deep eaves and shady areas on the bottom two levels. The top surface of each roof is prepared for vegetation, giving the impression of a series of small mountains when approaching by water.

Construction goals for the redevelopment of the Port of Kinmen Passenger Service center have been split into two phases. The first phase is scheduled for completion in December 2017 and is planned to have an annual processing capacity of 3.5 million travelers.

View gallery - 26 images