Hsinchu Stone Village Masterplan
Gianni Botsford Architects, MOLE Architects, and Todd Longstaffe-Gowan Landscape Design have collaborated on the Master Plan for a new eco village an hour outside Taipei in Taiwan
Client: Taiwan Land Development Corporation
Project Status: Current
Hsinchu lies roughly an hour’s drive southwest of Taipei on the outskirts of Taiwan’s prosperous ‘silicon valley’. Whilst the name translates from Chinese as ‘new bamboo’ - the ubiquitous native grass which has historically played an important part in the island’s culture - it now more often evokes images of the Taiwan’s leading science and technology universities and high-tech research institutes which have been at the forefront of the design and manufacture of much of the world’s microchips and laptops.
Taiwan, however, no longer has a stranglehold on high-tech, so it has begun to explore new means of sustaining its booming economy – among them health and medical tourism, which over the past two decades has attracted an ever increasing number of mainland Chinese and foreign visitors.
Hsinchu Stone Village is a creative response to this new economic phenomenon, and the brainchild of the Taiwan Land Development Corporation (TLDC) – a Taipei-based company which promotes and engages in rural redevelopment and urban renewal. The project is among the TLDC’s first forays in large-scale town and country planning. Eager to create an innovative and world-class development comprising hotels, serviced apartments, private villas, as well as numerous facilities for shopping, eating, exercising, and relaxation, the TLDC looked abroad, and to British-based designers in particular to assist them.
The design team’s response to TLDC’s brief has been to create a new hilltown with vernacular and historical references to traditional Taiwanese and local Hakka architecture. The bulk of the development shall be deployed in a series of independent and sometimes interconnected multi-storey courtyards, and built using a range of new and traditional building materials, including brick, timber and stone.
The setting of the new village is no less important: the buildings and landscape shall be fully integrated, and informed by traditional Chinese design principles imbued with Western idiosyncrasy (‘Chinois-Anglos-Chinois’) and responsive to ecological constraints and opportunities.
The site of the proposed village straddles a broad south-facing slope on the foothills rising from the Hsinchu Plain, the east and west ends of which tumble into precipitous wooded valleys. Half the 200 hectare site is flat, open and gently undulating, and half is steeply sloping and smothered with a dense mat of lush tropical vegetation. Much of the it was until recently farmed for centuries, and its upper reaches contain many relicts including betel palms groves, crumbling stone terraces and orphaned camellias from abandoned tea plantations.
The design imagines a new form of living, where modern serviced apartments and a luxury resort hotel create a unique single 'village', with landscaped paths and a central piazza. Business retreats sit alongside private villas, a ‘cloud’ café and restaurant overlook the piazza, a wedding chapel is located in a garden, where paths lead into a tea garden maze.