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Songshan Cultural and Creative Park
Currently recognized as a creative hub of Taipei, the building housing Songshan Cultural and Creative Park was originally built to be a tobacco factory. Another of Taipei's retrofitted urban gems, it was originally declared the 'Monopoly Bureau of the Taiwan Governor's Office, Songshan Tobacco Factory' in 1937. It changed names over the years to accommodating the increasingly stern tobacco laws and was designated as the 99th cultural heritage site in 2001, declared a historic monument by the Taipei City Government. An upcycled space, it was transformed and with the Songshan Sports Dome was presented to the public as the Songshan Cultural and Creative Park in 2011.
What sets Songshan Cultural hub apart from the museums is the baroque setting. Gardens, fountains and courtyard are interwoven into the dated but well maintained architecture - a patchwork of platforms, conveyor mechanisms, boilers and smoke-stained chimneys. Within the space are the multifunctional warehouses numbered 1-5. Regenerated and repurposed for the benefit of the Taipei community (something the Taipei government admittedly does quite well), these spaces now serve as exhibition areas, design workshop, restaurant, cafe and a grand showcase hall.
The official opening times of Songshan Cultural Park are 9AM to 6PM, while outdoor areas are open until 10PM. On site, visitors have access to a full range of family-friendly and backpacker-friendly facilities. Among these, a breastfeeding room, drinking fountain, coin-operated lockers, lounge area, an ATM on location. Also, for visitors in the family way, wrangling youngsters is made easy thanks to the baby stroller rental provided at the park (although a valid ID must be presented in order to rent).
Exhibits are regularly held here and contemporary designers display their pieces. Cafés and restaurants are found here in case visitors hear their stomach growling. Busy suit-'n-tie-types stroll through the park, taking advantage of the 'laid back' atmosphere in the midst of busy Taipei city. It's best to visit on weekdays as weekends can be very crowded. On the other hand, swarms of people make visiting the place exciting!