The “1895 War Memorial Park” project is a 31.5-hectare urban park in Taoyuan City that aims to commemorate and showcase the forgotten local war history while transforming unused open spaces into an innovative park that caters to the needs of the overpopulated city.
The site, located in Taoyuan Pingzhen, where the battles were fiercely fought during 1895 when the Japanese army gained control of Taiwan from the Qing dynasty. The campaign relied on the efforts of the “righteous people” (Yimin), composed of the public, to defend Taiwan. Despite ending in defeat, the campaign brought together various ethnic groups, such as the Hakka and Fujianese, into a powerful force. Through exhibitions, monuments, and park design, this forgotten historical event is reintroduced to the public, becoming part of Taiwan’s acknowledged historical memory.
The park was previously a combination of a former cemetery yard on the eastern side and an unanticipated community park on the western side, separated by a collector road. A concrete edge canal running along the perimeter of both lands acted as a man-made barrier, preventing access to the park and isolating open spaces from the surrounding neighborhoods and school.
To address these issues, a circular “Yi-Wei Ring” has been installed, serving as both a memorial and an elevated footbridge that allows pedestrians to move freely between the separate spaces. By compressing the road scale and integrating seamlessly into the landscape, this footbridge becomes a scenic pathway that crosses the park. This innovative design reunites the previously separate blocks into a single, cohesive field.
On the East Site, water from the existing canal has been channeled into the park, creating an ecological diversion that attracts insects and birds and provides opportunities for citizens to engage with nature. The West Site, adjacent to dense neighborhood housing, has been designed with activity platforms on the canal and rebuilt paths on both sides to improve accessibility to the park. These adaptive environmental design moves have softened the originally undesirable borders and converted the rundown neighborhood back-lane and concrete school-side passage into welcoming spaces. The canal now invites the public to engage with the park and reinforces the relationship between the school, the neighborhoods, and the park.
To alleviate parking issues in the area, a parking garage has been constructed under the park. The underground structure is designed with a continuous linear ventilation shaft and light wells that not only allow for natural lighting but also encourage natural airflow, creating a comfortable and sustainable underground environment. Visitors can appreciate their surroundings from the moment they arrive on the lower level.
The Memorial Park experience begins with a visit to the lower level curatorial space, showcasing the local war history and paying tribute to the soldiers. Visitors ascend the stairs of the center light well and emerge from the reflective pool in the heart of the serene memorial space. The experience culminates with a walk through the monument walls, leading to the park’s lush greenery, where the sounds of children’s laughter add to the peaceful ambiance.
The park design integrates elements reflecting the history of wars and the local Hakka community. At the end of summer, the green slope on the eastern semicircle of the monument is filled with the common golden needle flowers seen in Hakka daily life. The surrounding walls of the pedestrian overpass are dotted with loopholes and embedded with lighting design to reminisce past historical events. Bamboo clusters are repetitively planted as a consistent spatial vocabulary, echoing the guerrilla warfare fought in the bamboo forest.
By thoughtfully designing the landscape, the natural topography and mature trees have been preserved, while the newly added flood retention grass pits serve a dual purpose as areas for play and relaxation. The undulating terrain creates a more diverse urban ecology and enhances the park’s safety measures to serve both ecological and flood mitigation purposes.
To maintain the original functions of the neighborhood park, various activity circles have been installed on the western base, including game areas such as a hilly playground, sunken sandpit, climbing walls, hill slide, and fitness facility area. This approach seamlessly blends the natural landscape with recreational elements, creating an inclusive and versatile space for people of all ages.
The revitalization process has turned a NIMBY (not in my backyard) land into a local attraction. The park design redefines the unused open spaces, brings attention to a forgotten piece of local history, constructs a landmark for remembrance, and nurtures a new urban center filled with laughter and collective memories.
The Client & Project Manager: Department of Public Works, Taoyuan
Landscape architecture offices involved in the design: dA VISION DESIGN
Architect: CHANG, HAN-WEI Architect Associates.
Schematic Design Architect: Willy Yang Architects
Location: No. 66, Sec. 2, Fudan Rd., Pingzhen Dist., Taoyuan City, 324008, Taiwan (R.O.C.)
Design year: 2018-2019