“A New Era of Communication: This proposal for the Kinmen Passenger Service Center is based on the idea that what we are building is not just a piece of infrastructure, but also a cultural intervention. To do this, the unique history of Kinmen must be considered. Kinmenese culture has evolved from its Fujian Province traditions and formal establishment as “Kinmen” (meaning: “Golden Gate”) in the 14th century, but also by becoming a multi-cultural crossing-point for trade, having been occupied by the Japanese from 1937-1945 in World War II, and then becoming part of the territory of the Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist government after the Chinese Civil War in 1949.
During the period between 1949 and 1992, Kinmen was transformed from a quiet island culture into a military front line, which radically changed its way of life. Its ground became three-dimensionalized into a network of underground bomb shelters and sea tunnels for protecting people and ships, while its surface became hardened by military installations. Communication in this era of tense Taiwan-Mainland relations consisted of physical shelling, and visible propaganda slogans and lines of tanks along opposing shorelines.
Nevertheless, there is another more nuanced story here, that of deep understanding between the Kinmenese and the Mainland Chinese, a sense of shared cultural and economic history and destiny, a sharing of resources (such as water during wartime, and now, in the form of a planned pipeline), and a shared appreciation of the historical significance of the Island and its sublime natural habitats and architecture.
Now, as cross-strait tensions subside, and this war-time era comes to a close, Kinmen Island can be re-vitalized and re-discovered through new modes of communication. Its heritage parks, wildlife, historical villages and also its military heritage will be a draw for a new generation of visitors and immigrants. The opening of free travel between China and Kinmen in 2001 was a critical moment, now expanded by the ‘Three-Links’ pilot program. Recently, unprecedented high-level talks between Taiwanese and Chinese government officials have underscored the commitment of both to open communication, trade, and transportation. In this context, designing a Port Terminal for Kinmen is not only a unique opportunity but a great responsibility. The Kinmen Passenger Service Center should set the tone for the island both in terms of reflecting its complex identity and affiliations, but also in terms of presenting a vision of its future.
Roof Silhouettes, Interweaving Patterns, and Color: Our design is intended to both symbolize a new era of open communication with Mainland China, and reflect the unique local culture of Kinmen. The strong silhouette of our design, designed to be seen from Xiamen, is characterized by dynamic figures arising from the terminal roof. The building will be a beacon for openness and transformation- literally the “golden gate” of Kinmen Island. The roof silhouette is not a generalized gesture, but rather one which is associated with the specific traditions of Kinmenese architecture. This history is defined by its complex and varying roof ridges, exemplified in the Swallowtail and Saddleback roof silhouettes seen throughout the island, originating in Taiwan and China’s Fujian Province.
The tradition of complex interwoven materials and patterns in Kinmen architecture is also resonates in our project. The envelope design is characterized by three interfering but complimentary patterns- freeform seams, maze-like projections, and cross-grain panels. The simultaneity of these patterns produce a heterogeneous overall effect reminiscent of local Kinmenese brickwork with its distinctive diagonal striping, as well as other unconventional juxtapositions of material scales and orientations seen everywhere on the Island. Our project is conceived of as a contemporary interpretation of that craft and sensibility.
The rich palette of colors found on Kinmen Island — in its architecture, decorative arts, and in its diverse species of birds and flowers in its National Parks– are part of what makes it unique. In our design, we celebrate the colors of Kinmen in the interior of the Terminal. Citrus colors such as reds, oranges, yellows, and greens are used for freestanding furniture, wall graphics, roof planting, and lighting effects, to create a cornucopia of color effects. These colors glow from inside the terminal out across the water at night. The terminal appears not as a piece of infrastructure but rather as a mirror or the interior of the Island.”