Sun Moon Lake Visitor Center
Designed by Tokyo based architects Norihiko Dan and Associates, the visitor center on the shore of Sun Moon Lake houses the tourist board offices in addition to information center, and is covered with a green roof that rises out of the surrounding land, with curved concrete channels leading around the structure towards the lake.
The Administration & Visitor Centre was Norihiko Dan and Associates’ entry for the 2003 Landform Series competition held in Taiwan. The aim was to propose a new model relationship between the building and its natural environment while preserving the surrounding scenery and keeping the inland area from becoming dead space. The architect felt that for a long time buildings have been placed on site rather than becoming part of its landscape.
Norihiko Dan’s inspiration was the early Catholic monasteries of Cappadocia and the Yao Tong settlements along the Yellow River, as well as classics like Nolli’s map that considered the building as ground which can be curved or transformed, similarly to a landform, in a conceptual sense.
Due to the fact that early modernism, in his opinion, negated in totality the methods of self-transformation—including the poché method that belonged to pre-19th century neoclassicism in particular—and demonstrated an inability to adapt to the complex and diverse topography in such areas as east Asia, he believes that 20th century architecture actually gave rise to the phenomenon of land development projects that “flattened” mountains, an approach that is almost synonymous with the destruction of nature. In fact, the very key to linking buildings with landforms lies in these issues that have been ignored by modernism.
In this project, in order to emphasize a sense of horizontality to the architecture, he added more soil taken from construction for the foundation to the volume of the building conventionally required, and designed a composition in which the building on the lake side and a sloping mound on the inland side are in gradual and continuous transition. By adopting this composition he planned the design so that continuity is regained between the building and the landform to form an integrated garden rather than having the building sever the landform.
The site just touches the narrow inlet extending almost south-north at its northern tip, has a narrow opening facing the lake-view direction, and extends relatively deep inland along a road. Looking towards the lake, the lake surface looks like it is cut-out in a V shape as mountain slopes close in from both sides. That is, although the site is for the Sun Moon Lake Scenery management bureau, it doesn’t have a 180° view of Sun Moon Lake as can be enjoyed from the windows and terraces of the hotels standing on a typically popular site. In most cases with sites like this, the building is positioned on the lake side to secure the greatest view possible, and thus the inland side tends to become a kind of dead space.
In order to amplify the potential advantages he designed an extensive axial layout so that it extends far inland and then curving it back as far as possible via two large arches spanning 35 meters each, a sense of dynamism is created that leads to the lake surface. In addition he set up a near-view water basin in contrast with the distant-view lake surface to enhance the water surface effect by mirroring the distant view upon it. It is only possible to view the lake surface distantly as it is surrounded by trees from all angles. The architect saw this as a second undulating surface and opened up the upper part of the building by greening it to create continuity with the natural surroundings. These two surfaces are connected via a tunnel-shaped diagonal path that cuts and penetrates the interior of the building, creating a multi-tiered landform.
Project name: Sun Moon Lake Visitor Center
Location: No.599, Zhongshan Rd., Yuchi Township, Nantou County 555, Taiwan
Coordinates: 23.851847, 120.902215
Type: Visitor center
Project Area: 6640 sqm
Project Year: 2010
Completion Year: 2011
Client / Owner / Developer: Sun Moon Lake National Scenic Area Administration
Architects: Norihiko Dan and Associates – Komiya Bldg, 1-11-19 Mita, Minato-ku Tokyo, Japan
Project Team: Norihiko Dan, Tadashi Yoshimura, Eiji Sawano, Minghsien Wang, Masato Shiihashi
Collaborating Architect: Su Mao-Pin architects
Electrical Engineer: Uichi Inouye Research Institute(Japan), Huan-Chiou Electrical Engineering Co.(Taiwan)
Contractor: HUACHUN Construction Co., Ltd.(Phase 1), YIDE Construction Co., Ltd.(Phase 2)
Landscape Architect: Norihiko Dan and Associates(Japan), Su Mao-Pin architects(Taiwan)
Lighting Consultant: WORKTECHT CORPORATION(Japan), Cheng Yi Lighting Co., Ltd.(Taiwan)
Structural Engineer: Structural Design Group, Horn Gyun Engineering Consultants Ltd
Text Description: © Courtesy of Norihiko Dan and Associates
Images: © Norihiko Dan and Associates