Last year I went to Taipei to visit my friend Doug, where he took me to his favourite restaurant and told me that he was thinking about starting a blog about colonial architecture. I loved the idea and we spent the evening brainstorming what he could write about. Here we are, twelve months later with his first guest post, which obviously had to be about the exact restaurant, where I heard about his blog "Going Colonial" for the first time:
Deep in the heart of Taipei’s Zhongshan District lies a structure that stands out from the rest. As you’re walking north on Dunhua Road, you’ll see a break from the typical 8-10 story building and an automatic glass door entrance. Sitting back from the sidewalk, under the cover of an assembly of shady trees, you’ll find a colonial structure that appears as if it was located in either America or a British colony.
The Taipei SPOT Film House, built in 1925 during the Japanese occupation of Taiwan that lasted for half a century, is a beautiful structure reminiscent of the antebellum mansions of the American South. In 1950, the home was chosen by the first American ambassador to the Republic of China (Taiwan) as his official residence, as well as each recurring ambassador until 1979, when the United States and Taiwan severed diplomatic ties.
The structure has a grand facade, amplified by its large, aging trees and circular driveway in the forefront. It’s porte cochere nearly extends to the roof, and its covered portico is supported by four double sets of large Doric columns.
Staying on the facade, you’ll find 4 windows, each with wood shutters, as well as French doors at the entrance. Under the overhang there is an array of pendant lights with different colors on each pendant, as well as warm and cool bulbs, creating a unique style of lighting, especially for the outdoors.
Inside directly to the right, there is a gift shop of sorts with all kinds of different products from around the world. And to the left, you’ll find a great Asian-Western fusion restaurant, which sits in the covered portico.
Up the stairs, which have a fun design on each of the risers to produce and image, you’ll find a bar/lounge, originally the master bedroom of the residence, and an addition to the bar is actually the second level of the porte-cochere. The original parlor of the residence now functions as a multipurpose room, hosting parties, conferences, etc, and the exhibition hall next door is ready to put artists’ work on display.
Connected to the original building is the film house, showing independent movies from around the world. It’s a quaint theatre with plush red seats, and set up quite nicely to enjoy a film.
The Taipei SPOT House is a must see in Taipei if you’re into design, architecture, or history. Its grand, old stature and mature trees make for a unique and refreshing sighting in the metropolis. Catch dinner and an indie movie here at the SPOT House after you’ve explored the rest that Taipei has to offer.
Doug Chesney has been living and working in Taipei, Taiwan since 2015. After working in e-commerce in Seattle for two years, he decided a big change was needed, and booked a one way ticket to Taiwan. He discovered colonial architecture on a trip to Hong Kong in 2015 – the same trip we met –, and created his blog ‘Going Colonial’ in order share its beauty with the world. Doug loves travel, food, architecture, among many other (often random) things. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
No. 18, Section 2, Zhongshan N Rd, Zhongshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 104