MVRDV transformed a former shopping mall into an urban lagoon

Example of circular economy, Tainan Spring offers a solution for unused spaces while preserving the history of the site. Inspired by water and jungle, the lagoon will host with time a variety of plants.

Tainan Spring is the public space completed by MVRDV studio in the centre of the city of Tainan, in Taiwan: an urban lagoon surrounded by plants that, once grown, will transform the area into a city jungle. The project is the result of the transformation of a former shopping mall built in 1983 on top of the old harbour, next to the Tainan Canal, in a town once full of water networks serving the fishing industry. 

As Winy Maas, founding partner of the Dutch studio, explains, the creation of Tainan Spring was inspired by the history of the city, the jungle and the water with the aim of reintegrating the urban environment into the natural landscape of the surroundings. 

Tainan Spring
MVRDV, Tainan Spring. Photo Daria Scagliola. © Winy Maas, Jacob van Rijs, Nathalie de Vries

The pre-existing building has been removed and partially reused following the concept of circular economy: the underground parking is now a public plaza with a swimming pool running among green islands and the remains of the original structure, left intentionally in the space to make it look like a ruin of ancient Rome. Still, the old structure surrounds the lagoon, creating shadowed arcades: a preserved structure that recalls the past.

In addition to the swimming pool — equipped with mist sprayers during summer and whose water level rises and falls according to the weather conditions — Tainan Spring provides meeting and play areas, with the possibility to add shops and kiosks in the future. The studio’s project aims to increase the city’s green spaces and improve nearby public pathways, as well as merging, thanks to an urban planning strategy, the former commercial site with a recently renovated stretch of Haian Road.

Tainan Spring
Tainan, Taiwan
Urban lagoon and public space
Principal in charge:
Winy Maas
Wenchian Shi, Jeroen Zuidgeest
Project coordinator:
Hui-Hsin Liao
Design team:
Hui-Hsin Liao, Angel Sanchez Navarro, Stephan Boon, Xiaoting Chen, Andrea Anselmo, Yi Chien Liao, Zuliandi Azli, Olivier Sobels, Dong Min Lee, Chi Yi Liao
Antonio Luca Coco, Costanza Cuccato, Davide Calabro, Paolo Mossa Idra
LLJ Architects
Sustainability/landscape and urban designers :
The Urbanists Collaborative
Structural engineers consultant :
Evergreat Associates, SE.
Transport planners :
THI Consultants Inc
Lighting design:
LHLD Lighting Design
MEP engineers:
Frontier Tech Institute
General Contractor :
Yong-ji Construction Co. Ltd
Commissioned by:
Urban Development Bureau of the Tainan City Government

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