Sets in the City — October, 2016
Sets in the City — October, 2016 - Taipei Film Commission
SETS IN THE CITY: The highlight of an on-location filming in Taipei each month, introducing the wonders of the modern yet traditionally well-preserved Taipei, a city of rising magnificent and endless possibilities.
Tianmu White House - A Fairy Tale House in the Community
(Article/Sophie Wong; photography/May Wen)
After half a century, municipal heritage - "Tianmu White House" was opened to public this summer
In Tianmu, a residential community known for its serene environment, there is a white house standing opposite Tianmu Park with open blue sky above it and wide areas of green below, much like what people would picture in a fairy tale. The house is known as "Tianmu White House" (formerly unit N°46 of housing complex for U.S. military consultants) - a municipal heritage that was recently opened to the public on July 20 this year. Following the introduction of Yangmingshan American Military Housing in a previous issue of "Sets in the City," the housing complex has now become a popular choice for filmmaking. "Tianmu White House," re-opened this summer, shared the same historical background as the U.S. military complex up on Yangminshan, but went through a very different fate because of its location and the ways the local community had progressed after war. Today, "Tianmu White House" has been entrusted with a new mission - to revitalize the community.
In the 1950s, the government made a series of acquisition for agricultural land and developed residential areas to house U.S. military personnel, who were stationed to help defend Taiwan at that time. In addition to the housing complex on Yangmingshan, nearly 200 western-style houses were built along Section 6 and Section 7 of Zhongshan North Road. Today, "Tianmu White House" is all that remains as Taipei City grew. In 2003, local community residents filed a petition to preserve this distinctive building, and the city government later made "Tianmu White House" a municipal heritage in 2005. It was the first time in Taipei City that a municipal heritage was designated because of a community petition. Since then, the fate of the white house has been closely connected to those who petitioned for its preservation.
Management of "Tianmu White House" was passed on to Accton Arts Foundation, who intended to use the building for "community revitalization" and turned it into an "experimental site for healthy lifestyle" that better accommodated the needs of mid-aged and old-aged population in the local community. For this reason, activities hosted inside the white house are mostly aimed towards promoting "physical and mental health." With regards to physical health promotion, the white house is currently in collaboration with Taipei Veterans General Hospital Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology to introduce professional knowledge and global health perspectives through medical and recreational seminars. In terms of mental health promotion, the white house hosts art education regularly to raise people's awareness towards aesthetics in living. Alice Wang, renowned designer who lives in the same community, has been invited to design all kinds of family activities in the hope of attracting young people's participation, and directing children's attention to issues such as health and aging society.
The Tianmu White House we see today was re-painted in 2006 by a TV production crew
"Tianmu White House" featured the style of American suburban housing in the 1950s. The exterior wall was initially colored brick red, with Taiwanese-style black tiles on rooftop and six Japanese-style "ogre tiles" fitted along the roof ridge. It was a structure that embodied western, Chinese and Japanese elements. The white house people see today was painted white inside out in 2006 for the TV drama - The Magicians of Love where scenes of "Zhongnan Barber Shop" (the main female character's home) were shot. According to the curator, U.S. military personnel were free to decorate the houses they lived in to their preference. Some families even chose to paint their houses pink or green, making it one of the most colorful communities in the nation.
A stone fireplace that connects directly to the chimney is still visible in the living room
Visitors are free to read medical and healthcare publications placed throughout the living room
"Tianmu White House" has retained much of the decorations from the previous idol drama, which provides it with a fantasy and fairy tale-like setting. The building offers 132 square meters of interior space. In summer, the sun rises directly outside the living room window. Wooden tables and chairs are placed near where the stone fireplace and chimney used to be; medical and healthcare publications have been made accessible to visitors. Apart from the living room, which is now the reception area, the house was also originally designed with interior spaces including two bedrooms, a tool room, bathroom, balcony, kitchen, and domestic helper's room. The kitchen has been reserved for use as the curator's work space, while the remaining areas are open to public and used to host community activities. The two bedrooms are being used as "Classroom A" and "Classroom B"; Classroom A is fitted with desks, chairs, screen and projector that makes it suitable for classes and workshops, whereas Classroom B has several couches and side table that can also be used as a discussion space.
"Classroom A," used to be one of the bedrooms
"Classroom B" has several couches and a side table
The rooms are connected by a corridor with floor panels laid 50 years ago. Family photos of former U.S. military personnel are displayed along the corridor wall, whereas the other side of the corridor features an array of French windows that open outward into a 991-square meter courtyard. The courtyard displays a broad variety of plants including breadfruit tree, starfruit tree, orange jasmine, and pigeon wood. The curator also has plans to make use of the exterior space for outdoor activities that are suitable for the whole family.
Family photos of former U.S. military personnel are displayed along the corridor that leads to the bedrooms. The other side of the corridor opens into the courtyard
The French windows open out into a balcony that leads to a 991-square meter courtyard
Once an exotic building that carried the memories of U.S. families, Tianmu White House is now a common space to local residents. People are often seen reading and talking about childhood memories here. "Tianmu White House" is now being run for the benefit of local residents. Income from seminars and activities are all spent to maintain the heritage, and the curator continues to welcome volunteers' contribution in the future. Meanwhile, nearby shops are being invited to organize classes such as coffee brewing, postcard design etc as a means to attract community residents into exploring imagination in this fairy tale-like building.
"Tianmu White House" has been made available for leasing since its grand opening in July. It has been approached by numerous production teams to date. Leasing of Tianmu White House will first be prioritized for community seminars and campaigns. When used for artistic, cultural or filmmaking activities, users must take into account structural limitations of the building, such as weight tolerance of the wooden floor.
[Tianmu White House]
Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday, 10:00-17:30
Address: No. 23, Lane 181, Section 7, Zhongshan North Road, Shilin District, Taipei City
Facebook fan page: https://www.facebook.com/tianmuwhitehouse/