/ Architecture & History

The ALIEN Art Centre is set against the Shoushan National Nature park, the mountains behind it looking out on Taiwan’s western coastline. The nearby art museums and tea houses on Shoushan, a quick car ride away, offer vistas overlooking the sea reaching into the endless unknown.

| Architectural History |

The year after the August 23 artillery battle (1959), the Kaohsiung city government began working on plans to build the Kin-Ma Military Hostel as a rest stop for military personnel on their way to the front lines. As the land was originally a fish pond, it would take some time to prepare the soil, a wait that ended up taking a decade. When the wait was finally over, two Kin-Ma Military Hostel, in Kaohsiung and Keelung, were completed in 1967. Those soldiers who drew assignments on Kinmen and Penghu arrived by bus from points all over Taiwan at the Kaohsiung Kin-Ma Military Hostel, where they waited for clear weather. Hearts filled with anxiety, they boarded military cruisers on wobbly legs for their distant destination, screwing up as much courage as possible no matter how deep their trepidation. The Kin-Ma Military Hostel were way stations for troops headed off to military duty, as well as the site of joyous reunions with family after successful completion of military service. Between 1967 and 1998, the Kin-Ma Military Hostel were where military servicemen prepared physically and mentally before heading off, during a time in which the military played a vital role in reassuring the hearts and minds of the people.

The Kin-Ma Military Hostel in Keelung having been demolished, this historical time is left to the Kaohsiung military hostel to keep alive. Following the end of the Cold War, in 1998 the Kaohsiung Kin-Ma Military Hostel was handed over to the Ministry of Transportation Railway Reconstruction Bureau, serving as the command center for the Kaohsiung railway underground construction project until the bureau’s relocation in 2012.

In 2016 the Kaohsiung Urban Development Bureau solicited open bids, and our team at the Taiwan Living Arts Foundation won the rights to preserve the property, overseeing restoration work and operation. Following two years of preparation and restoration, the Kin-Ma Military Hostel was reborn as the ALIEN Art Centre.

| Building Space |

Originally completed in 1967, the Kin-Ma Military Hostel is an icon of post-war architecture in Taiwan, incorporating the modern Western architectural minimalism whose development was accelerated by Taiwan’s rapid post-1965 economic growth, along with the quasi-classical style once popular in Taiwan during the Japanese period, as well as various symbols of classical Chinese architecture. Fluid horizontal and vertical lines outline large openings to let in light and circulate the air, while the circular design allows overlapping positive and negative space to bring out a sense of depth, orderly stairways and corridors fortify the building’s air of self-discipline, and the geometric variations reminiscent of Mies van der Rohe lend a spare, clean structure and an additional functionalist flavor. Building materials pick up on the polished stone work, washed rock faces and red brick matrices of the Japanese period, while modern concrete deliberately conveys the structural beauty of traditional wooden structures. Meanwhile, the proportion of 6-cm. ceramic tiles and patterned tiles on the outer wall capture various classical Chinese architectural elements.

The preservation and continuation of the Kin-Ma Military Hostel fuses traditional and new era architectural perspectives, drawing from the wisdom of contemporary functionalism, while endeavoring to preserve the flavor of historical artisanship. The Kin-Ma Military Hostel is protected by a complete wall, encircling a secret oasis unto its own. And further consideration to the fluidity of interior and exterior lines lends additional versatility to a diverse living venue.

Kaohsiung west-coast, Shoushan mountain © photo by Chenhan Chiu

The recovery of historical pattern existed in ALIEN ART CENTRE

The recovery of historical pattern existed in ALIEN ART CENTRE

The recovery of historical pattern existed in ALIEN ART CENTRE

The tea house near the ALIEN ART CENTRE © photo by Gary Chang

Scenery from the tea house

Archive of warship history in the ALIEN ART CENTRE

Façade of ALIEN ART CENTRE