This competition entry for Taichung’s new City Culture Centre (Taiwan), designed by Kubota & Bachman architects, represents a beautiful analogic interpretation, contextualization and appropriation of one particular ancient design phenomenon and also one of the Seven wonders of the Ancient World – indeed the Hanging gardens of Babylon. The Taichung Gateway Park is situated within Shui Nan Ecological Gateway District and is aimed at accommodating various design approaches for its high number of visitors.In terms of Kubota & Bachmans’ interpretation of the Hanging gardens of Babylon, their representation of the TCCC consists of curvaceous slopes that resemble the design of the ancient structure. According to Philo of Byzantium, the ‘so-called Hanging gardens have plants above ground’ and also ‘this artificial arable land is above the heads of those who stroll along through the pillars’.Thus, the construction of the modern Babylonian structure aims to provide space for shade and shelter for protection against sun and heat.Furthermore, the architects have contextualized the ancient design through the means of the needs for sustainability by attempting to create a sustainable architectural role model. In addition to that, the architects have succeeded in appropriating King Nebuchadnezzar II’s commission to create gardens both for decoration purposes and with functionality in place – the Taichung City Cultural Centre not only displays a certain modern aesthetic with ancient precedence, but also provides people with access to the cultural centre and acts as a gate towards the Taichung’s Gateway park.The interior of the cultural centre is designed to accommodate conference hall, a museum and archive, a library and classrooms, research rooms and offices, and also to offer open space for the public.
What is interesting to keep in mind is that today’s sustainability implementation of the competition entry mirrors the ancient historic fact that King Nebuchadnezzar commissions the gardens to be designed as a gift for his wife Amytis who missed the green hills and valleys of her homeland. And as ancient Babylon, Taiwan’s city of Taichung could also be considered as a new center of civilization with green architecture as a focal element.