Enjoying Cultural Sites via Kaohsiung Rapid Transit System
◎English translation:Hou Ya-ting ◎Photos by Pao Jhong-hui, Jhang Jian Ying-hao, Kao Jhih-hung, Liao Shun-fu
Kaohsiung Rapid Transit System (KRTS), which began operations in 2008, has changed how people commute and travel in the busiest parts of Kaohsiung. The efficiency of its two lines –Red and Orange –has gradually attracted passengers, and paved the way for the city's sustainable transportation goals. When passengers take the KRTS, they are delighted by the public art works, installed in every station, which fully present the city's artistic side to visitors. Several are large-scale and especially magnificent.
The work "Heavenly Creation" is on display at the Red Line's Ciaotou Station. This 9m x 12m work was created and constructed by Dr. Chu Pan-hsiung, founder of Meinong Kiln. More than 70 tonnes of clay were used to form its 1,311 ceramics pieces. Inspired by Taiwan's industrial development, the central part of "Heavenly Creation" depicts geometrically-shaped cities which represent civilization. At both the top and the bottom, murals represent the Earth. Since Taiwan's industrial development was profoundly influenced by Kaohsiung's sugar industry and railway, this gigantic work of ceramic art salutes Dr. Chu's homeland of Taiwan.
World Games Station, also on the Red Line, is adjacent to the World Games Main Stadium. The public art work "Floating Rainforest" at this station was designed by the WJI Team (Ron Wood and Christian Karl Jassen). The WJI Team created this tapestry-like artwork by printing out a film depicting southern Taiwan's insects and plants, and placing it between two layers of safety glass. "Floating Rainforest" is part of the glass canopy over the track, the concourse, and the escalator wall. This artwork expresses boundless vitality. It is fascinating to watch how sunlight shines through the work, presenting different shadows at different times of the day.
The glass art installation "The Dome of Light" at Formosa Boulevard Station is a must-visit cultural landmark. It was created by Italian artist Maestro Narcissus Quagliata, and is composed of 4,500 pieces of stained glass which convey four main themes: water, earth, light and fire. Each theme carries certain messages: Water is depicted as the womb of life; earth is shown as prosperity and growth; light symbolizes the creative spirit; while fire represents destruction and rebirth. The dome has a diameter of 30m, and the work's total surface area is 660m , held in place by two illuminated columns. "The Dome of Light" is the largest stained-glass work of art in the world. The fabrication of the dome was a collaborative effort by teams in Japan, Germany, the US, Mexico and Italy. Since October 2015, the dome is also the location of regular light-and-music shows. During workdays, shows are at 11:00, 15:00 and 20:00; an additional light show will be given at 19:00 on Friday. Each weekend, there are shows at 11:00, 15:00, 17:00, 19:00 and 20:00. Audio guides which explain the meaning of this work of art can be borrowed for free inside the station.
Designed by German glass artist Lutz Haufschild, the stunning set of sculpted glass walls titled "Emerald Laminata" is near the service counter at Kaohsiung International Airport Station, near the southern end of the Red Line. "Emerald Laminata" was inspired by both the exquisite carved jades at the National Palace Museum in Taipei, and Taiwan's maritime environment. The work comprises two sculpted glass walls, one named "Tree of Life," the other "Infinity." Each wall is 15m long and 3.5m high. Lighting equipment installed at the back of "Emerald Laminata" produces fascinating visual effects along these three-dimensional sculpted glass walls.
If you are in the mood for cultural events, the Orange Line connects four major cultural venues: Pier-2 Art Center, Kaohsiung Cultural Center, Wei-Wu-Ying Center for the Arts, and Dadong Arts Center. Pier-2 Art Center hosts art groups of various kinds, and is now a popular tourist destination. The cultural center is Kaohsiung's oldest performance venue; between the main building and the concourse, there is a circular piazza and a park. Despite the opening of other venues in the Kaohsiung area, the center still hosts a lot of performances. On weekends, an art market is held each afternoon inside the enclosed area. Visitors can meet local artists and watch street performers in action.
Many Kaohsiung residents are looking forward to the completion of the Wei-Wu-Ying Center for the Arts by the end of 2016, because it will be the first national-level theater in southern Taiwan. The central government has invested NT10.1 billion in building the center, meaning it is the largest cultural-venue investment since the completion of the National Theater & Concert Hall in Taipei. Covering 3.3 hectares, the center was designed by Dutch architect Francine Houben and is located on what used to be a military base. The original barracks have been preserved and repurposed as small-scale performance halls. Moreover, the site's many old banyan trees have also been preserved, and the central grassy area hosts more than 100 events every year, among them the Wei-Wu-Ying Kids' Art Festival in spring and the Wei-Wu-Ying Art Festival in fall.
If you are in the neighborhood, be sure to visit the adjacent Wei-Wu-Ying Metropolitan Park, which covers 50 hectares and has rich ecological diversity. Visitors can see a wide range of plants, insects and wildlife.
As soon as visitors step out of Dadong Station, they will see eleven huge membrane funnels, their shape being part of Dadong Arts Center's iconic architecture. The center is located between the banyan park, Fongshan River and Fongshan Old Street. Fongshan Elementary School is next door; because the number of school-age children is falling, the school was downsized, freeing up 4.3 hectares of land on which the arts center was built.
The upside-down funnels facilitate ventilation and provide shelter and shadow, allowing residents to engage in various activities, such as dance or Tai chi, even when it is raining or very sunny. The arts center has a theater, an exhibition center, a library and an education center. The library here is regarded as one of Taiwan's top ten libraries. At Dadong Arts Center, residents and tourists alike can enjoy an elegant environment, as well as art and literature.
Fongyi Academy is a cultural and architectural attraction between the Orange Line's Fongshan and Dadong stations. Built in 1814, the academy is the largest original academy relic in Taiwan. After five years of renovation, Fongyi Academy has been restored to its former glory. Inside, exhibitions focus on the education system and imperial civil-service examinations in the Cing Dynasty, which ruled Taiwan until 1895.
The Red and Orange lines intersect at Formosa Boulevard Station, where travelers can easily transfer. Whether you want to visit artistic and cultural venues, stroll in parks, or enjoy local food, the KRTS provides access to multiple destinations. Kaohsiung Rapid Transit Co. sells one-day passes, two-day passes and other types of ticket which make exploring Kaohsiung quick and convenient.