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Modern Industrial Heritage as Cultural Mediation in Urban Regeneration: A Case Study of Gunsan, Korea, and Taipei, Taiwan

Graduate School, Global Culture and Content, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, 107 Imun-ro, Dongdaemun-gu, Seoul 02450, Republic of Korea
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Land 2023, 12(4), 792;
Received: 2 March 2023 / Revised: 26 March 2023 / Accepted: 29 March 2023 / Published: 31 March 2023


Modern industrial heritage in East Asia shares the social and historical background of industrial and cultural products shaped during the colonial times around the 20th century—a period of political upheaval and rapid social transformation. Gunsan (Korea) and Taipei (Taiwan) share the historical characteristics of modern industrial facilities built during the Japanese colonial period. Moreover, these facilities are controversial and complex objects regarding which the notions of conservation of historical heritage and liquidation of colonial heritage coexist and are subjects of mediating the creation of modern cities in East Asia and transition to creative modern urbanization. The complexity surrounding these modern industrial facilities warrants an in-depth analysis of the methods of utilizing them as cultural heritage sites for cultural mediation, and Gunsan and Taipei are good examples for comparison. Here, we examined cultural urban regeneration utilizing modern industrial facilities formed from similar historical and social backgrounds in Taiwan and Korea. This is a comparative study of historical and cultural belts utilizing industrial buildings in Gunsan’s original city centre and Songshan Cultural and Creation Park in Taipei. Finally, we proposed implications for local residents, cultural communities rooted in the region, and user-centered cultural content for sustainable cultural urban regeneration.

1. Introduction

1.1. Background and Purpose

In the 21st century, globalisation and deindustrialisation have accelerated, and cultural diversity has emerged as a positive factor enriching urban and people’s lives, further emphasising the unique locality and cultural competitiveness of each city. This perspective emerged from reflective introspection on urban development in the 20th century, when the focus on urban regeneration through physical urban expansion and sprawl led to the destruction of regional characteristics, uniqueness of places, and even local communities, accompanied by damage to the local history and culture.
In this paper, based on urban cultural resources such as regional specificity and historical identity, we aim to study sustainable urban regeneration beyond development-oriented urban regeneration. We will focus on the modern industrial heritage of Gunsan (Korea) and compare it to the urban regeneration of Taipei (Taiwan) through the process of modern industrialization in the 20th century.
Comparative studies on urban regeneration utilizing industrial facilities built during the colonial era are just beginning, and there is still a lack of literature in this area. A notable recent study in this field compared the cases of Gunsan and Chiayi (Taiwan) to investigate the process of postcolonial city branding utilizing colonial heritage [1]. The study examined a novel approach to adopting colonial heritage-making at the small city level in a national context where the management of colonial heritage is primarily undertaken as part of the nation-building process [1].
In the different perspective of this previous study, our study focuses on a comparative case of cultural urban regeneration that forms cultural districts and analysed the roles and value of modern industrial facilities as major mediating factors for historical and regional specificity in urban regeneration.
The modern industrial heritage of East Asian countries, including Korea, has a similar socio-historical background in that they are industrial and cultural products formed in the 20th century, an era of political upheaval and rapid social change. Gunsan and Taipei, which are covered in this study, have a common historical feature that modern industrial facilities were built during the Japanese colonial period. Furthermore, the comparison of the urban regeneration of these two cities is not only very complicated, but also a subject of conflict with each other, and is based on two theories: preservation of cultural heritage and liquidation of colonial heritage. In addition, these two cities are the mediators of modern city construction in East Asia and the main agents of transition to a creative modern city.
Gunsan is a port city located on the west coast of Korea. Since its opening in 1899, it has been transformed into a modern city according to Japan’s colonial policy. Gunsan was in charge of exporting grain produced in the surrounding granary to Japan while managing and operating the industrial products imported from Japan to the surrounding areas.
Taiwan, which became a Japanese colony in 1896, was the first country where Japan operated overseas colonial management. During World War II, Japan built monopolistic tobacco factories and breweries in Taipei to secure capital for war and built military facilities throughout the city. After Japan’s defeat in 1945, the modern industrial facilities were handed over to the Taiwanese government and remained state-owned enterprises thereafter. In the 1990s, however, their productivity declined with the global reform of industrial and trade structure and the privatization of Taiwanese state-owned enterprises. Consequently, social discussions started on the use of old industrial facilities.
As such, the cycle of formation and decline of modern industrial facilities in East Asia, as represented by South Korea and Taiwan, has historical and social commonalities. Furthermore, as the decline of the manufacturing industry due to industrial structure reform led to the corresponding regional decline, the use of these industrial facilities as heritage sites with a cultural mediation function was proposed. In this context, Gunsan and Taipei offer good comparison cases for analyzing the characteristics of former colonial cities. The present study compares the cases of Gunsan, as a planned colonial city, and Taipei, as an example of typical Japanese colonial management, to examine the regional revitalization and cultural regeneration of cities utilizing modern industrial facilities. Specifically, we examined the significance and characteristics of cultural value derived from the reuse of modern industrial facilities as unique historical and cultural resources of a region and as tools for reminding of the colonial history and experience and vitalizing new local culture, beyond the historical memories of the past.

1.2. Scope and Methods

In the 2000s, as the city was hollowed out and industrial facilities were neglected, the need for urban regeneration utilizing modern industrial heritage scattered throughout the old city center emerged. By investigating and analyzing cases and methods of utilizing modern industrial heritage to study new cultural values that go beyond regional specificity, historical identity, and development-oriented perspectives, we investigated and analyzed ways of utilizing modern industrial heritage and presented a perspective on cultural mediation and promotion of humanistic values in sustainable urban regeneration.
Specifically, we reviewed the cultural value of modern industrial facilities dismantled by urban development, paying attention to ‘regeneration based on what was created’ and proposed that the traces of industrial facilities remaining in urban space and the totality of local community memories can become cultural elements constituting the city [2].
In the present study, we compared and examined the cases of the Songshan Cultural and Creative Park n Taiwan and the cultural belt in the old city region of Gunsan in Korea, which serve as exemplary cultural urban regeneration models utilizing modern industrial facilities formed with similar historical and social backgrounds. We aimed to examine the roles and value of modern industrial facilities as the major mediating factors of historicity and regional specificity in urban regeneration and drivers of cultural sustainability.
In Gunsan’s old town, there were many buildings built during Japan’s rule of the Korean Peninsula until the 1990s and some of them were considered traces of colonization and exploitation, so civic groups began demolishing them [3]. However, in 2001, after the implementation of the ‘Registered Cultural Property’ system for modern heritages by the Cultural Heritage Administration in Korea, perceptions regarding modern buildings built during the colonial period changed. These buildings were recognised as having new cultural value, rather than being perceived as the remnants of the colonization and targets of demolition, many of which had been damaged during urban development [4].
Furthermore, as the aftermath of city expansion sought as an ideal development during the period of high growth in the 1970s and 1980s, colonial modern buildings, which had been abandoned due to the decline of the old city region and were located near the residential areas, changed into cultural assets. In other words, these structures were in a period of transition to create new urban culture.
In the case of Taipei, the Tobacco and Liquor Monopoly Bureau of the Japanese Government-General of Taiwan spent a budget of more than 2.6 million yuan in 1937 to build Songshan Tobacco Factory. It was a representative modern industrial plant in Taiwan, which was complete with related ancillary buildings, such as employee dormitories and gardens, in addition to the tobacco production facility. When the entire complex was completed in 1940, it was the largest tobacco factory in Southeast Asia. After the liberation, the city expanded to the east of Taipei, where the tobacco factory was located; however, due to the decline of the manufacturing sector, the factory area was increasingly underutilized, and some of the factory sites turned idle [5]. Subsequently, the decline of the industry, such as factory relocation due to privatization, led to the regional decline, and new functions were sought. By designating this place as a city-registered cultural property in 2001, Taipei City specified industrial facilities reflecting the city’s history and regional characteristics as cultural heritage and sought to strengthen the city’s competitiveness [6].
The “Nizhny Tagil Charter for Industrial Heritage”, proposed by TICCIH under UNESCO, is a representative example that has attracted international attention for certifying modern industrial facilities as industrial heritage and setting specific standards for it. The formation of such an international consensus and interest in industrial heritage has provided a theoretical foundation for culturally utilizing industrial facilities in Korea and Taiwan and consequently contributes to the dissemination of social necessity.
In this study, we will investigate the ways to restore and utilize the modern industrial heritage of Gunsan and Taipei that meet international standards. Furthermore, the modern industrial heritage currently remaining in the old city region of Gunsan and the Songshan Tobacco Factory in Taipei can be treated as neighbourhood heritages, which constitute the regional characteristics and identity of the lives of local residents whilst reflecting the history of urban transformation from the modern urbanisation period to the present day. Based on this, we discuss sustainable urban regeneration utilizing modern industrial heritage culturally.
This study focused on field research methods in urban regeneration areas [7,8] and the local community approach centered on placeness [9,10]. In the study, the following analysis frameworks and methodologies were applied [7,8,9,10].
In the first step, through the analysis of previous studies related to the literature review, a theoretical review, the definition of concepts, and a discussion on the conversion of industrial heritage from project facilities were organized.
In the second step, a comprehensive investigation of industrial facilities built around the 20th century, whose value as industrial heritage was legally recognised and recycled, was conducted to derive key points of comparison.
In the third step, the comparison points between Gunsan and Songshan were derived based on the conditions of execution of their role as cultural facilities and landscape conditions, and field investigations of the case, spatial analysis, local activities, and expert interviews were conducted, and cultural urban revitalization utilizing industrial heritage was analyzed.

2. Theoretical Background

2.1. Modernity/Coloniality in East Asia

The rapid industrialisation, urbanisation, and capitalist expansion that characterise East Asia today are the outcomes of the effects of typical modernisation, which first began in Western societies following the Industrial Revolution. Around the 20th century, most countries in East Asia witnessed a more complex period of change throughout society, called modern times, whilst going through the colonial period. ‘Colonial modernity’ is the concept proposed to explain this peculiarity of East Asia [11]. ‘Colonial modernity’ was the first attempt to explain the modernisation of East Asia during the colonial era and describe the complex aspect of this region.
Of note, however, regarding the social and political situation in East Asia, modernity and coloniality are connected as two sides of a coin, forming complex views of the society with each pursuing the opposite goal against another. In other words, in terms of the target and direction of progress for social development represented by modernity, debates were focused on for whom and what modernisation was realized on the foundation of coloniality supporting the society. Meanwhile, it is more appropriate to discuss the modernity and coloniality of East Asia from the view of ‘modernity/coloniality’ as having a parallel relationship, since heterogeneous concepts with different aims coexist.
The discussion on modernity, active primarily in Western academia, has shifted to research on modernity in non-Western regions, as Western centralism was dismantled in the second half of the 20th century and continues to the present day. In the case of East Asia, which experienced colonisation, the debate is ongoing regarding the validity and meaning of the concept of colonial modernity in terms of modernity transplanted and mediated by the entity that realized colonisation.
In South Korea, the theories of exploitation and modernisation contradict each other regarding the colonial past. The exploitation theory argues that Korea’s modernisation started with invasion and was stopped by imperialism in the colonial situation. It describes modernity based on the indigenous development theory, which states that modernity began in the pre-colonial period [12]. The perspective that the political situation of a colony contributed to its modernisation is absolutely against the perspective that modernisation led by the imperialist state was limited since it was aimed at the exploitation of the colonial territory, resulting in its intended results. This has led to the formation of complex discourse on colonial modernity.
Recently, however, a new trend has emerged to recognise both axes of modernity and coloniality, beyond the dichotomous issue, and to expand, understand, and discuss modernity in East Asia with shared historical experiences. This enables diverse discussions on modernity from new perspectives, beyond the colonial modernity debate, with a focus on the regionality and specificity of the colonial experience in each country. Moreover, it provides a fundamental theoretical perspective for exploring the possibility of discussing modernity in East Asia in a broader sense [13,14].
From this perspective, the present study examines how industrial facilities—as products of modernisation during the colonial period in Korea and Taiwan—were developmentally converged in the current urban and regional identities and how colonial experience was developmentally used across the cultural spectrum. Based on this, the current cultural response to colonial modernity is examined.

2.2. Urban Regeneration through Cultural Mediation

With the acceleration of urbanisation due to industrialisation, the development of modern cities has been a global trend. In the West, the improvement of the physical environment through urban reconstruction and extension was introduced in the 1950s, followed by discussions and activities on urban revitalisation in the 1960s, urban renewal in the 1970s, urban redevelopment in the 1980s, and urban regeneration in the1990s [15].
Urban areas are complex and dynamic systems. They reflect the many processes that drive the physical, social, environmental, and economic transition and they themselves are prime generators of many changes [16]. G. Evans identified three models for the influence of culture on urban regeneration. Through the three models of cultural regeneration, he provided a basic direction for cultural mediation projects based on the history, culture, and environmental conditions of each region [17].
Culture-led regeneration is the model in which culture is a catalyst for urban renewal and change and is harnessed as a growth engine. This type is also often used as a reproducible signal. It is a strategy to realize urban renewal as a leading cultural symbol of the city by mainly regenerating public buildings and inducing public interest. Representative forms include the revitalisation of public buildings (e.g., Tate Modern and Peckham Library in Southwark), revitalization of open spaces (e.g., Gateshead, Liverpool)., and activities and events for branding places (e.g., European Capital of Culture).
Cultural regeneration is the model in which culture is strategically integrated into social, economic, industrial, and environmental fields to promote urban renewal. The city’s long-term development strategy establishes cultural plans and policies, and the majority of its finances are supported by buildings. Culture integrates with urban planning to practice urban regeneration. Cities can attract creative talents and develop into creative cities (e.g., Poblenou in Barcelona).
Culture and regeneration is the model, where culture operates independently without being linked to urban development strategies and plans, cultural activity is frequent but highly individual. Without proper public planning and investment, it is difficult to find urban regeneration strategies and sustainability, even if citizens and organizations act individually.
East Asia went through the colonial period around the 20th century, and after liberation, various efforts were made for national reconstruction. In South Korea, urbanisation was achieved rapidly. The urbanisation rate, which was 13% immediately after the liberation in 1945, rose sharply to 24.5% in 1955, 39.1% in 1960, 50.1% in 1970, and 89% in 2000 [18]. However, this history of urban expansion has triggered problems, such as the leveling-off of regional specificity, the deindividuation of regional historicity and identity, and the destruction of communities. Accordingly, cultural and humanistic reflection and discussion on sustainability are increasingly required in urban development.
The UNESCO Creative Cities Network, which has led international cooperation in discovering and supporting regional cultural assets for sustainable urban development, noted that each region’s unique culture and creativity are important factors in regional regeneration:
‘(…) Urban areas are today’s principal breeding grounds for the development of new strategies, policies, and initiatives aimed at making culture and creativity a driving force for sustainable development and urban regeneration through the stimulation of growth and innovation and promotion of social cohesion, citizen well-being, and inter-cultural dialogue. In this way, cities can respond to major challenges they are confronted with, such as economic crises, environmental impacts, demographic growth, and social tensions. (…) It is first and foremost that culture and creativity are lived and practiced on a daily basis at the local level [19] (p. 10).’
The cultural regeneration approach, which incorporates cultural resources into areas of industrial decline, can be used to enable the use of degraded industrial heritage in the city as new cultural resources with regional uniqueness and cultural specificity. Based on this, a direction can be suggested to achieve sustainable urban regeneration by strengthening the city’s historicity, regionality, and identity.

3. Cultural City Creation Project: The Case of Gunsan

3.1. Formation and Decline of Modern City

Gunsan had been considered as a candidate for opening the port since 1897. With Gimje and Mangyong Plains as its hinterland, which are Korea’s largest rice production sites, it was a suitable place to establish an international trade port, as it was located by the sea. Also, because it was advantageous for exporting rice to Japan, Gunsan Port was finally opened in 1899 and houses for foreigners were built at the same time. In addition, at the request of Japan, the largest trading partner of Joseon at the time, the area near the port was urbanized and grew into a colonial base.
Furthermore, modern facilities were built including banks, post offices and schools, and railways, and a modern road network connecting each port and other regions was opened and maintained. In these port cities, the role of modern distribution centers was emphasised, rather than administrative functions, and with the function of industrial cities, they were differentiated from the conventional urban function [20].
As trade with Japan declined after liberation in 1945, the port function was reduced, and after the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950, Gunsan remained in a state of stagnation for a long time. Then, in the mid-1970s, the coastal industrial complex construction plan was implemented and Gunsan Port was redeveloped. In the 1980s, along with housing development, as industrial parks were built in new town areas, Gunsan began to function as an industrial city. In this process, the old downtown area based on the social infrastructure built in the colonial era was excluded from the new industrial city construction plan, and its function as a city gradually weakened. After the 1980s, due to the change in industrial structure and the development of new towns on the outskirts, the old city region experienced urban hollowing due to deteriorated facilities, declined commercial function, and decreased population [21].

3.2. Regional Regeneration utilizing Modern Industrial Heritage

The old downtown area of Gunsan retains its original spatial shape of Korea’s modern city, although its industrial functions are declining. Buildings and early industrial facilities that show the history and regional characteristics of Gunsan remain here. In the 2000s, these deteriorated industrial facilities were utilized to restore the local identity and revitalize the city. This trend was the result of actively riding on the changes of the times, which required a new approach to urban creativity and cultural values, and a new approach to urban regeneration related to the lives of local residents, rather than regeneration focusing on the physical development of the city.
The change in perspective on urban development mediated by culture strengthened the approach to a new urban culture based on the Creative Cities Network promoted by UNESCO in 2004. Moreover, discussion on sustainability using culture and arts in urban regeneration spread. In Korea, with the start of the Cultural City Project in 2004, urban and regional regeneration projects utilizing various cultural resources were promoted [22].
In South Korea, the ‘Cultural Belt of Modern Industrial Heritage’ project contest implemented by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism in 2008 is the result of a representative policy aimed at regenerating the regional economy by preserving and managing industrial heritage for reuse as cultural and artistic creation spaces to build regional cultural infrastructure and use it as a tourism resource. Gunsan became the final winner of this contest with a business plan to utilize the industrial heritage of the old town as a cultural space and received support from the central government for mid-to-long-term urban regeneration.
Phase I of the project was carried out from 2009 to 2013. The Gunsan inner port area was selected as a cultural belt area, and the Gunsan Modern History Museum was built as a core institution with a key role and modern industrial heritage sites scattered nearby. Phase II was implemented from 2014 to 2019. Foreign settlements built in the old town area during the opening of the port were selected as the historic landscape district, and the old industrial buildings were repaired to develop exploration and landscape roads where visitors can experience history. Meanwhile, a street maintenance project was implemented to improve the convenience of tourists, thereby promoting regional and economic revitalisation.
A place is not a physical set of individual sites that make up a city, and the infrastructure of a modern city built with homogeneous components does not provide a place experience that shows regional specificity. In other words, a space that has not been created through social, historical, and cultural processes cannot comprehensively reflect the lives of local residents and the past and present of the city. Fast food restaurants, shopping malls, brand stores, hotels, etc. have nothing to do with placeness that shows regional characteristics, and accordingly, the cultural value of industrial facilities along with the history of the region was evaluated as important.
Gunsan is creating a new urban economy by examining changes in the city and revitalizing tourism while leaving the appearance of a modern city built in the first half of the 20th century in the old town. As the fundamental foundation for the regeneration of the old town of Gunsan, the old and abandoned modern industrial facilities are re-evaluated as new urban cultural resources, and a continuous regeneration policy is being implemented to mediate the local history and new cultural values.
As Shown in Figure 1, Gunsan is divided into ‘Cultural Districts’ and ‘Historic Landscape Districts’ according to their role as a cultural facility that can be realized by reutilizing modern industrial facilities and landscape conditions so that the value of industrial heritage enhances urban regeneration. The project has developed a program using various infrastructure and cultural trails to allow locals and tourists to experience the unique history and placeness of the region.
As illustrated in the examples in Figure 2 and Figure 3, Gunsan has discovered and restored modern industrial facilities that represent the regional characteristics to preserve the uniqueness and historicity of modern industrial heritage as much as possible. Gunsan used them as cultural institutions and successfully changed them into region-specific cultural heritage.
The Modern Architecture Center in Gunsan was opened by renovating the building of the Bank of Joseon, which was a representative financial institution for colonial economic exploitation during the Japanese colonial period. The Architecture Center introduces historical events to visitors and runs permanent exhibitions in the Architecture Hall so that they can feel the social and historical changes of Gunsan in the past through urban changes and architectural heritage.
The Museum of Modern Art in Figure 3 is a representative case in which the former Gunsan branch of the 18th Bank was converted into a cultural institution after being repaired. The 18th Bank was established in 1870 by Nagasaki merchants as a bank headquartered in Nagasaki, Japan. When Nagasaki lost its function as a trading port, it was changed to Japan’s 18th national bank in 1877. The former 18th Bank Gunsan Branch was established in 1907 as the seventh branch in Korea. It was designated as a registered cultural property in 2008 and is being used as the Gunsan Museum of Modern Art after undergoing a repair and restoration process. The main building of the museum is a space where the works of artists from Gunsan are displayed, and special exhibitions with various themes are held quarterly. The space where the bank’s large safe was located was composed of an exhibition hall commemorating the independence activists, and a large safe used during the Japanese colonial period was also exhibited, allowing visitors to experience the history of exploitation during the Japanese colonial period.
As we have seen so far, Gunsan has utilized old facilities in the original city centre as cultural resources and developed cultural institutions’ contents so that visitors can experience the historical specificity of industrial facilities created during the Japanese colonial period. Through this, it was confirmed that urban regeneration strategies were used to confirm the modern heritage value of industrial facilities and to mediate unique locality and cultural experiences to visitors.

4. Cultural and Creative Park: The Case of Taipei

4.1. Formation and Decline of Modern City

Taiwan, which was Japan’s first official colony under international law, underwent urban spatial planning around 1905. During this period, traditional city walls were demolished, lowlands were filled, and an urban road network of modern grid structures was expanded and completed in Taipei [24]. Taipei Prefecture, which was built with traditional Chinese city gates and road types based on the feng shui concept, was incorporated into the modern city in 1905 under the ‘Taipei City Reform Plan’, with the demolishment of the city walls that obstructed the traffic flow and construction of new roads running through the interior and exterior of the prefecture. The results of this urbanisation can be seen in Figure 4 below, which shows the scale of urban change and the space divided into blocks by an expanded road network.
Taipei was urbanised and industrialised during the colonial period under Japanese rule. As the Government-General of Taiwan reaped the most profits from the monopoly business of opium, camphor, and salt, resulting in fiscal revenues exceeding expectations, they expanded the monopoly businesses into tobacco and liquor production and built production plants, forming a full-fledged modern industrial complex. The fact that major funds for colonial management were obtained through monopoly business and that Taiwan paid more direct tax per capita than Japan in 1904 and 1905 shows the scale of Taiwan’s industrialisation [25]. Many industrial complexes, including sugar and tobacco factories, were established between the 1900s and 1930s. This entailed the introduction of Japanese technology, specialised labour, and capital; the use of Taiwan’s cheap labour; import of industrial raw materials; and the transformation of Taiwan’s economy into the military supply and consumer goods industries.
Established in 1937, the ‘Songshan Tobacco Factory of the Monopoly Bureau of the Government-General of Taiwan’ had an industrial town structure with production and living spaces, including a machinery repair room, inspection room, employee dormitory, medical facility, childcare facility, playground, and garden, in addition to the tobacco production facility. The major spaces of the Songshan Tobacco Factory were laid out according to the functionality and production logic, whilst the living facilities were laid out to increase convenience. The main buildings were arranged on the east and west axes, forming the main axis of the industrial complex. In addition, a garden and resting park was established on the centre axis, and dormitories for high-rank employees were located closer to the centre axis. Furthermore, the entrances and paths used by the employees in the complex were divided by class, forming a spatial order that reflected the hierarchical order between the colonial officials and the colonised working class [26].
In 1945, Taipei City was the centre of Taiwan’s political and economic activities and was the densest urbanisation area. After liberation, the Taiwanese government took over and operated the monopoly businesses. The tobacco industry experienced a boom until the 1980s, although production in the Songshan Tobacco Factory ceased in 1998 due to the transfer of traditional heavy industry and manufacturing [27]. The modern industrial complexes in the city remained idle spaces due to changes in the industrial structure and deindustrialisation, and people began gradually to discuss their other uses.
In 2001, the Taipei City Government designated the Songshan Tobacco Factory Complex as the 99th cultural heritage district and implemented a plan to reuse it. In 2011, it was officially opened to the public as Songshan Cultural and Creative Park. Currently, the Department of Cultural Affairs of Taipei has entrusted its operation to the Taipei Culture Foundation, which organises various cultural programs. It functions as a complex cultural space where various creative and exhibition events are organised and major organisations that will develop the design-oriented creative industry are housed.

4.2. Regional Regeneration Utilizing Modern Industrial Heritage

The industrial function of the Songshan Tobacco Factory, which represents the history of Taiwan’s modern industrialisation, has been lost. However, it has begun to attract attention as a representative region of cultural urban regeneration, as the value of regional urbanisation through culture has been emphasised in the 21st century, based on which, creative urban policies have been expanded. Taiwan launched the ‘Challenge 2008: Key Plan for Taiwan’s Development’ as phase I of a project linking culture and industry under the slogan of ‘Culturalisation of Industry, Industrialisation of Culture’. Culture and creativity policies were established and implemented for regional regeneration through the Six-Year National Development Plan in 2002, Six-Year Emerging Industry Project in 2009, and the Cultural and Creative Industry Development Act in 2010 [28]. The area where Songshan Tobacco Factory is located has the largest green space in the east of Taipei, with many trees and beautiful scenery. Furthermore, it is attractive as a major area for cultural regional regeneration through the reuse of industrial facilities with a history of urban development, along with natural resources that Taipei citizens can use.
To apply the Songshan Tobacco Factory model, which aims to build a creative urban culture utilizing its industrial heritage, various discussions have been held. For instance, there have been reviews on the issues raised as well as the problematic situations that may arise in major areas ranging from history to region, space, humanities, economy, and policies. Additionally, factor analysis was performed to suggest improvements, along with the investigation of regeneration methods. Table 1 below summarises these matters.
In 2001, the tobacco production plant, boiler room, and warehouse number 1 through 5 in the Songshan Tobacco Factory were designated as historic sites by Taipei City, and in 2004, the machine repair, nursing, and inspection rooms were designated as historical buildings. The entire factory site, which was the largest in Southeast Asia at the time of its construction, was broadly divided into a cultural complex (7.2 ha), where the factory facilities designated as cultural heritage were the main features, and a sports complex (10.8 ha), where the Taipei Dome Stadium was built. The cultural complex is divided into area A, where historical buildings are concentrated, and area B, which is used as a cultural and creative industry base to reuse modern industrial facilities.
Songshan Tobacco Factory is a place representing the history of urban change and Taiwan’s industrialisation. In the process of reutilizing industrial buildings, the original buildings were used without changing their frame structure. Furthermore, the regional history and creative characteristics were discovered and combined for use as cultural facilities. Based on this, a cultural and creative park was opened to provide various cultural and artistic activities such that it can serve as a leading cultural hub.
As shown in Figure 5, area A with historical buildings was opened in Songshan Cultural and Creative Park in September 2011, and the Taipei Culture Foundation operated and managed this area. In May 2013, area B, which was created as a cultural and creative industry base, was opened, and in August of the same year, the German Red Dot Museum, famous as a design museum, was established [29] (pp. 34–38). The cultural complex of the Songshan Cultural and Creative Park not only produces cultural content that allows the visitors to experience creativity and innovation but also plays the role of a cultural hub by excavating modern historical and cultural resources that help revitalise the region and serve as the foundation for creative industries and producing design-oriented creative programs and cultural content.
Taipei City focuses on the field of design as a creative industry, and in Songshan Cultural and Creative Park, cultural cluster facilities are intricately operated to produce, exhibit, and sell international exhibition content and design-related products. In particular, the Taiwan Design Museum here continues to present programs specialised in the introduction of emerging artists and the field of design, and the city has been supporting the World Design Exhibition every year since 2011. The Taiwan Design Museum has a collection of valuable classic design works and systematically presents the history of Taiwan’s design development to the public. Meanwhile, Songyan Style Gallery Creative Cluster is a space for exchange between creators, consumers, and users and the generation of creative products. It provides experiences in art shops that present unique design products and implements cultural branding based on the spirit of innovation and integration as shown in Figure 6.

5. Discussions and Argumentations

The old town area of Gunsan has been regenerated based on a typical government-led project with support from the central government and cooperation from local governments. This policy was coordinated and implemented step-wise with the aim of regenerating the declined old town areas to create relevant employment, improve living conditions in undeveloped areas and lead to social integration. A positive result of this policy is that abandoned modern industrial facilities were reutilized to excavate the cultural and heritage value and develop local characteristics and identities of the area as a ‘Cultural District’ and ‘Historic Landscape District’.
However, this government-led project has continued to cause problems due to its meritocracy, which aims to achieve policy outcomes in a short period. The high dependence on the government-led project and the fragmentary and uniform approach to modern heritage for achieving the project outcomes in a short period have led to regeneration focusing on commercial spaces that are not related to the history and regionality of Gunsan.
The events held in 2014, when government funding was abundant and various projects were active to create a modern cultural city, show the characteristics of government-organized events. As shown in Figure 7, events were organized to inform local residents and visitors about the situation during the Japanese occupation, and most of the activities were aimed at inspiring patriotism and enlightening them about historical events.
Early cultural events were highly responsive to participants and satisfaction from visitors, but as the event was held every year, the theme of cultural content available in Gunsan was limited. Few people return to Gunsan every year for the events they once experienced, and as commercial spaces have flourished around the cultural district, the original small cafes, bookstores, and shops have disappeared.
These issues led us to reflect on who ultimately benefits from government-led urban revitalization. In addition, in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gunsan has seen a disruption in the activities of local merchants, residents, and local-rooted cultural communities, prompting calls for ways to increase their participation and build their capacity.
The Taipei Songshan Cultural and Creative Park have been reused as a complex space that accommodates various users and user types to meet the needs of tourists rather than local residents, and it is currently successful in attracting much attention and many tourists. However, because the focus was on preserving and regenerating industrial facilities centering on the tobacco production space, there is criticism that it did not fully utilize the unique culture and site specificity of the region that formed an industrial town as the largest factory site in the colonial era. In other words, it lacks distinctive programs that allow visitors to experience the intangible characteristics of the region’s history and culture, other than tangible assets represented by buildings in the urban industrial heritage.
Continuous efforts are required to expand the mediating labour and software infrastructure related to policy support for Songshan Cultural and Creative Park. This is to discover the origin of modern design in the industrialisation history of the Songshan Tobacco Factory and to create a foundation for implementing creative industries by applying cultural and industrial characteristics [26].
Furthermore, continuous educational programs should be provided in parallel for local communities and cultural mediators to effectively realize cultural urban regeneration in addition to public recognition. Currently, however, the function of the formalised special industrial district is emphasised, and concerns have been raised regarding excessive commercialisation as shown in Figure 8 [31]. The cases of Gunsan and Songshan Tobacco Factory of Taipei, which experienced a decline due to rapid changes in the industrial structure in the deindustrialisation era, indicate the possibility of cultural urban regeneration that avoids the application of a uniform industrial model and reflects regional specificity and identity. Finally, the present study examined the problems that may arise when government-led top-down policies are applied.
Based on the cases of Gunsan and Songshan, we can summarize the requirements for urban revitalization using modern cultural heritage as shown in Figure 9.
Cultural urban regeneration that builds on local history and industrial facilities should not alienate the residents and cultural communities that have roots in the area, but rather build social and economic resilience through their participation. Regular resident- and participant-centred programs that utilize industrial heritage can raise awareness of the region’s industrial heritage and the ongoing need to preserve and share cultural heritage experiences. Shared cultural heritage experiences promote inclusiveness and foster sustainability.

6. Conclusions and Recommendations

Based on the discussion and research findings, the implications for enhancing community engagement and improving cultural sustainability in cultural urban regeneration utilizing modern industrial heritage are as follows:
First, in terms of government-led project meritocracy, there are positive effects in that the cultural value of modern industrial heritage, which drives urban regeneration, beyond the fragmentary approach of reutilizing facilities, was examined in multiple layers, and it was used as a cultural base site that embodies regional history and identity.
Second, the lack of an ongoing program to engage local people in the cases of Gunsan and Songshan has not helped to promote community resilience. To address these issues, it is necessary to apply the concept of ‘living heritage’ that is gaining attention today. In today’s community-oriented usages of cultural heritage, the concept of ‘living heritage’ is gaining traction when discussing the intangible cultural base of people with shared local characteristics. ‘Living heritage’ is a concept that goes beyond the focus on tangible cultural heritage to encompass the practices, places, and objects that make up cultural heritage, and also includes intangible heritage such as the knowledge shared by local people.
Third, for sustainable urban regeneration, an aspect of ‘living heritage’ is essential, in which modern industrial heritage is not isolated from the lives of local residents and citizens living nearby but grows and transforms according to their diverse needs and changes in time. For example, a “living heritage” is passed down from generation to generation and is continually reshaped by communities and groups to fit the environment and the needs of today. A shared heritage provides a sense of identity and continuity and promotes respect for cultural diversity and sustainability. Such sustainability requires various cultural mediation activities and the involvement of mediators. Sustainable urban regeneration can be achieved when the local communities lead mediation activities.
Fourth, the history of urban expansion based on rapid social change and compressed growth through modernisation during the colonial period was, in a historical context, shared by many major East Asian cities. Therefore, a major basis can be provided for further macroscopic regional research on urban regeneration utilising modern industrial heritage.

Author Contributions

Methodology, H.C.; validation, J.L.; formal analysis, H.C.; writing—original draft preparation, H.C.; writing—review and editing, J.L.; funding acquisition, J.L. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.


This research was funded by the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies Research Fund (2022–2023).

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


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Figure 1. Project to create a modern cultural city, 2009–2019 [23].
Figure 1. Project to create a modern cultural city, 2009–2019 [23].
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Figure 2. (a) Gunsan’s former branch of Chosun Bank, 1922. (b) Modern Architecture Centre, opened in 2013 after restoration (©Gunsan City).
Figure 2. (a) Gunsan’s former branch of Chosun Bank, 1922. (b) Modern Architecture Centre, opened in 2013 after restoration (©Gunsan City).
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Figure 3. (a) Gunsan’s former branch of Japanese 18th Bank, 1907. (b) Museum of Modern Art, opened in 2013 after restoration (©Gunsan City).
Figure 3. (a) Gunsan’s former branch of Japanese 18th Bank, 1907. (b) Museum of Modern Art, opened in 2013 after restoration (©Gunsan City).
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Figure 4. (a) Qing dynasty-style Taipei Prefecture, 19th century. (b) Modern expanded city of Taipei, 1905 [24].
Figure 4. (a) Qing dynasty-style Taipei Prefecture, 19th century. (b) Modern expanded city of Taipei, 1905 [24].
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Figure 5. Songshan Cultural Creative Park [29] (p. 31).
Figure 5. Songshan Cultural Creative Park [29] (p. 31).
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Figure 6. (a) Taiwan Design Museum. (b) Songyan Style Gallery Creative Cluster [30].
Figure 6. (a) Taiwan Design Museum. (b) Songyan Style Gallery Creative Cluster [30].
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Figure 7. (a) Visitors Participation Program at Gunsan Modern History Museum. (b) Citizen participation even, “Gunsan Modernity as You Say” (©Festival Gunsan).
Figure 7. (a) Visitors Participation Program at Gunsan Modern History Museum. (b) Citizen participation even, “Gunsan Modernity as You Say” (©Festival Gunsan).
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Figure 8. Songshan Cultural Creative Park (©Taiwan News).
Figure 8. Songshan Cultural Creative Park (©Taiwan News).
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Figure 9. Processes and results of cultural regeneration utilizing modern industrial heritage.
Figure 9. Processes and results of cultural regeneration utilizing modern industrial heritage.
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Table 1. Factor analysis for urban regeneration strategies utilizing industrial heritage [6].
Table 1. Factor analysis for urban regeneration strategies utilizing industrial heritage [6].
FactorMajor ProblemImprovements through the Use of Industrial Heritage
HistoryIndustrial heritage has its own historical value, but its importance is not fully recognised.A contemporary feel should be provided with industrial and contemporary design whilst persevering the historical value.
RegionEnvironmental incompatibility between deteriorated buildings and contemporary urban areas. Lack of awareness amongst local residents.Use of ‘regional memory’ as an element of regionality with the participation of local residents.
SpaceBuildings used as industrial facilities have unique spatial structures and atmospheres.Repair and maintenance of old buildings. Complex reuse of industrial facilities that have lost their functionality.
HumanitiesCompatibility between culture, customs, lifestyle, and contemporary life.Use of cultural content to revitalise contemporary art and cultural life.
EconomyThe problem is that the local resources create more economic value.Economic revitalisation through constructing infrastructures that encourage the participation of communities and increase the number of visitors by building cultural infrastructure.
Policy/GovernanceVarious problems arising during the maintenance and development of the cultural complex through the reuse of industrial heritage.Government’s urban planning support, policy support for industrial heritage revitalisation, and establishment of public-private governance.
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Chung, H.; Lee, J. Modern Industrial Heritage as Cultural Mediation in Urban Regeneration: A Case Study of Gunsan, Korea, and Taipei, Taiwan. Land 2023, 12, 792.

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Chung H, Lee J. Modern Industrial Heritage as Cultural Mediation in Urban Regeneration: A Case Study of Gunsan, Korea, and Taipei, Taiwan. Land. 2023; 12(4):792.

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Chung, Hokyung, and Jongoh Lee. 2023. "Modern Industrial Heritage as Cultural Mediation in Urban Regeneration: A Case Study of Gunsan, Korea, and Taipei, Taiwan" Land 12, no. 4: 792.

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