Dihua Street, Taipei 13.05.16

  • Looking down Dihua Street towards the traditional Chinese medicine shops – their small scale belies the wholesale nature of their business

  • Lighting designer Jian Ji Yang, founder of Wedo Group, standing beside his grandfather’s dentistry equipment, which he has on display in the studio

  • Wedo Group specialises in theatrical lighting design, has also won awards locally for its beautifully light-handed renovation of the building

  • People come from across the city to make an offering to the Matchmaker God at the Xiahai City God Temple

  • Traditional family businesses still dominate the area

  • The Readers’ House, a library, bookstore and guesthouse that is also owned by local activist Jou Yi-Cheng

  • The area’s mercantile history can be seen in the ornamental detailing of its architecture

  • An a-capella group rests before its evening performance at the Thinkers Theatre

  • Wang Yu-ling, director of Blue Dragon Gallery – which offers exhibitions, workshops, classes and commercial art management – standing in the courtyard of her space

  • Blue Dragon represents Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, so Kusama-themed items dominate the shop

  • Along with the medicine shops, Dihua Street is home to other traditional merchants, such as basket makers

  • A costumed dancer on Dihua Street – the area has long been associated with Taiwanese theatre and opera

An influx of creatives has helped to revive one of the city’s oldest streets

Rather than hold fast to its designation as the ‘world’s workshop’, Taipei has decided that its future lies in design, chiefly social design. While the city’s culture and planning offices attempt to figure out how best to use this year’s World Design Capital status to advance their goals, Dihua Street, in the city’s historic centre, offers one intriguing example – of the possibilities and challenges alike – of implanting public policy by design into the fabric of the city.

For our latest issue Crystal Bennes visited the area with photographer Sean Marc Lee. Pick up a copy of the magazine (pictured below) for the full story and view some of Lee's images of Dihua Street above



Sean Marc Lee



Crystal Bennes


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