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From airbase to culture laboratory: An unwalled space for all

  • Date:2020-05-12
From airbase to culture laboratory: An unwalled space for all

Since last September, the Ministry of Culture has been re-landscaping the Taiwan Contemporary Culture Lab (C-LAB) site in the heart of Taipei, as well as demolishing the walls that surround it. These efforts aim to transform the former militant site by ushering it out of its historic context as a somber, closed-off site and into a future of being a creative space open to all.

The wall demolition was officially completed on May 12. To celebrate the opening of this space, C-LAB is set to host a year-long series of outdoor activities and some indoor ones, all planned in accordance with COVID-19 guidelines issued by the Central Epidemic Command Center. The public is welcome to come by and take in the new look of this former aerial warfare center.

In 2018, the Ministry of Culture took up the reins of the former site of the ROC Air Force Command Headquarters, renaming it C-LAB and turning operations over to the Taiwan Living Arts Foundation (臺灣生活美學基金會) in August that year.

C-LAB is now a "cultural laboratory" that is being positioned as an international institution for cultural innovation. Combining art, technology, and society, it will serve as a public-facing incubator for cultural innovation with a mission to transform the Taiwanese capital through culture and contemplate the nation's future through artistic lens.

The first phase of the project focuses on the re-utilization of existing buildings, with art groups invited to take up residence through projects like "Creators" for gradually molding a new artistic and innovative ecosystem for Taiwan. At the same time, C-LAB will pursue international exchanges through projects like establishing the Taiwan Sound Lab in cooperation with French acoustics institute IRCAM, collaborating with South Korea's Gwangju Biennale Foundation, and participating in the annual "Chroniques — Biennale of the Digital Imagination" in France.

Phase two, meanwhile, will involve cooperation among the three Ministries of Culture, Economic Affairs, and Science & Technology. The Ministry of Culture has also set up a "spatial planning group," inviting partners from the worlds of architecture, urban planning, and arts and culture to take part. It is expected that after a year, the group will submit its construction plan for new C-LAB facilities to the Executive Yuan for approval.

After the demolition of the wall, restorations will continue into the second half of this year, including the renovation of the on-site Zhongzheng Hall. On the networking front, C-LAB will continue to build and develop platforms for contemporary art, technological media, and social innovation, as well as deepen cooperation with significant arts and cultural institutions worldwide.

The Ministries of Culture and Science & Technology will work together to foster two centers respectively dedicated to contemporary art and technological media, while a social innovation center will be backed by the Ministries of Economic Affairs and Science & Technology.

With the wall officially falling today, C-LAB plans to commemorate the transformation of this physical space and the creation of virtual platforms for learning through an outdoor installation project titled "Wonderland." Artists, designers, and members of the Taiwanese public came together through this project to lift the veil of authoritanism from this former airbase and open it up to a future as a diverse, engaging urban public space.