The former British consulate in the southern Taiwan city of Kaohsiung has an interesting disguise on the buildings gutter downpipes. Someone has gone to a lot of effort and time to disguise the downpipes from the roof gutters to look like bamboo. It’s a nice touch and looks so much better than plain downpipes.
Disguise as Bamboo
There are many instances in Taiwan and China where a little extra effort has gone into decorating otherwise bland everyday objects so they blend into their environment. Bamboo is a popular disguise and many examples abound once you know what to look for. More bamboo disguise can be found here.
The Grand Hotel in Taipei is an imposing classical Chinese building located at Yuan Hill in the Zhongshan district of Taipei. It was was built by Chiang Kai-shek, under the direction of his wife, to treat visiting foreign guests. The Grand Hotel was completed in 1973 and became an instant Taipei landmark.
Grand Hotel extravagance
Exploring the decoration of the Grand Hotel is a visual feast because it is such a wonderful example of classical Chinese “palace-style” design. The huge foyer and grand staircase are overwhelming at first sight.
Below are several decorative items that caught my eye.
Interior courtyard with lattice balustrade and corner brackets
Connecting corridor decoration
Lattice used on a staircase
Nice ice-ray lattice divider iin the foyer
No trip to Taipei would be complete without a visit to the Grand Hotel and having some coffee and cake in the smart café in the foyer area.
The Chinese invest a lot of effort to disguise everyday items to look like they are part of the natural environment. An example are the steel safety railings on paths through National Parks that are disguised to look as if they are made from rough timber poles. The Chinese go to a lot of effort in their National Parks to keep them looking as natural as possible. This creative disguise technique is used extensively for theatrical sets and it is great to see these techniques used this way.
Rubbish bin disguise
One cute example of the use of theatrical techniques in real life I discovered at Maobitou (or cat’s nose) at the southern most tip of Taiwan. It was this rubbish bin disguised as a rock. It’s a great idea but makes looking for a place to put your rubbish a challenge for your observational skills and a major exercise in lateral thinking.
The Grand Hi-Lai hotel in the southern Taiwan city of Kaohsiung has wonderful Art Deco veneer work on the elevator doors on the 43rd floor. It was the last place I would have expected to see something like this. Modern Chinese architecture can be full of surprises.
Another good example of Art Deco style being adapted into modern decor.
Walking up the entrance road to Aletheia University in Danshui in the north of Taiwan I discovered these great steel gates. The steel gates are the back entrance to the Grand Chapel on the university campus which was built in 1997. The Chapel has since become the landmark of the university campus.
Design of the steel gates
A lot of work has gone into integrating the gate design into the shape of the arches. The intersecting semi-circles at the top of the gates match perfectly with each other. They also reflect the sacred aspect of the building in the traditional Gothic arch shape.
Lattice window grilles based on traditional Chinese lattice designs can be found all over Taiwan. They can be seen used in many buildings including restaurants, shopping centres and hotels. Many fine examples of lattice window grilles can also be seen at many of the suburban railway stations while travelling on the MRT rail system. Below are two such examples.
Examples of lattice window grilles
At the Guandu station stop in Taipei can be found nicely designed lattice window grilles that are far more decorative than plain bars would have been. When visiting the famous Longshan Temple in Taipei don’t forget to check out the lattice grilles at the railway station there as well.
Open window lattice in Guandu railway station, Taipei
Lattice window grilles at Longshan Temple railway station, Taipei
This Chinese lattice screen makes a nice room divider at the entrance to a Taipei restaurant. The lattice screen uses the classic ice ray design which is a variant of traditional Chinese lattice as described by Daniel Sheets Dye in his book “A Grammar of Chinese Lattice”.
Chinese lattice windows
Although not used to the extent it was last century Chinese lattice screens can be found all over Taiwan and China. Its great fun spotting examples in buildings as you drive around the cities. I noticed several nice ice ray lattice windows in the windows of an administration building at the National Palace Museum in Taiwan as I was leaving.