The Dark Line
By : MICHELE&MIQUEL / dA VISION DESIGN / PWD, NEW TAIPEI CITY GOVERNMENT
GRANDS PRIX DU DESIGN – 16th edition
Discipline : Landscape & Territories : Grand Winner, Award of the Year Winner
Categories : Special Awards / Environmental Project : Gold Certification
Categories : Landscape Architecture / Landscape Architecture - Public Space : Platinum Winner
THE DARK LINE
CREATION OF AN ECO-HISTORICAL ROUTE BETWEEN MUDAN AND SANDIAOLING – TAIWAN THROUGH THE SANDIAOLING TUNNEL AND A NEW FOOTBRIDGE ATTACHED TO THE CLIFFS OF THE KEELUNG RIVER GORGE
At the beginning of the 20th century, the Japanese administration undertook a colossal railway project to transport coal from the mines operating in this mountainous area in North-East Taiwan.
When the mines closed, tourism became the main economic asset of the region.
New Taipei City initiated a program to network the old historical trails and abandoned industrial sites.
In 2018, a competition was launched for the creation of the section between MUDAN and SANDIAOLING, which includes:
2 historical railway tunnels and a connection to be invented, to replace a bridge that had been washed away.
In response to the competition, we take a clear option: preserve the post-industrial landscape in all its historical AND ecological depth. The passage of time has produced ecological, atmospheric, acoustic, chromatic, and luminous variations along this route, which are at the heart of our proposal.
Despite this attitude of withdrawal in favor of the encountered atmospheres, heavy interventions were necessary to open this route to the public.
The challenge was to conceal the project’s efforts to let the ancient structure and the landscape speak for themselves.
A single material: iron, repeated endlessly, makes one forget its presence.
– the rebars build a new railway
– the gaps between the rebars allow the powerful action of tropical nature to be seen
The construction method was adapted to the specific conditions of production in Taiwan. Midway between industry and handcraft, SMEs are able at the same time to efficiently mass-produce, and to carry out” haute couture” adaptation on site.
At the start of the path, the decking is raised to leave the old ground intact. Trees and grasses go through the rebars as well as the fauna that inhabits them.
We enter the cavernous darkness of the Sandiaoling tunnel.
The lighting bathes the foot of the vault.
While guiding the visitors’ steps, it reveals the rocks and silts of the original floor under the planking. The invisible light source spares the intrados, where the bats cling, in semi-darkness.
At the end of this long underground gallery, we emerge at the bottom of a high vertical light well. The sun’s rays filter through the foliage of the cliffs and produce, in contact with the vapors exhaling from the tunnel, an unreal atmosphere of a fantastic tale.
After this halt, we enter the second tunnel, which at the end of a wide curve, opens onto the gorge. There, a water mirror lets the opposite bank penetrate under the vault.
It tells us about the void left by the vanished bridge.
Fed by natural flows, this mirror extends above the gorge, in a triangular overhang and its waterfall.
From the inside, the visitor’s silhouette remains suspended between its own reflection and the plant background.
Deviating to the side, the footbridge attached to the vertical wall of the gorge continues the journey.
In the straight tunnels, we explore the depth of the ground in semi-darkness, but we now discover the succession of distant reliefs, from a balcony that follows the sinuosities of the cliff. Here we walk above the luxuriant vegetation canopy, between the highest trees that emerge through the decking.