Kaohsiung Public Transportation System

Artist: Various
Location: Kaohsiung, Taiwan, China
Year of completion: 2008
Researcher: Li Pan

The Kaohsiung Mass Rapid Transit (KMRT) system has 36 stations, many of them underground. When construction of the system began in 2001, with the intent to promote the image of Kaohsiung as an "ocean capital," modern high-tech green materials were used, such as metals, irons, steels, glasses, and other lightweight and transparent materials, to reduce the impact on the environment and also to accommodate the humid weather in southern Taiwan. The distinctive design of the buildings gives the stations a young, healthy, and modern image. These stations are the first step toward improving the city’s image and fostering the development potential of public resources.

The Kaohsiung subway public art project was drafted under the operation agreement signed by Kaohsiung Rapid Transit Corporation (KRTC) and local government. The agreement incorporated culture art sponsorship regulation and its detailed implementation rules, as well as public art setup instructions and related rules. The public artworks include The Dome of Light, the largest glass work in the world, designed by Italian artist Narcissus Quagliata, at the Formosa Boulevard station; Emerald Laminata, by Gabriel Lomelin, at the International Airport station; and Floating Rainforest at the World Games Station, designed by the WJI team, Ron Wood and Christian Karl Janssen.

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During the construction of the Kaohsiung subway public art project, there were disputes and different voices speaking against the public art institution and the enforcement process. But it all disappeared after the actual result was unveiled, as it’s so stunning and impressive. Via this case study, we can see the new vitality and positive impact on city art brought by thinking out-of-the-box.

The KMRT is more than just traffic transport. It not only brings convenient transportation to people, but is also the source of shaping a modernized urban pattern and is the driving force for a better lifestyle. In addition, its incorporation of public arts helps cultivate an active and good-quality rapid transit culture. On this basis, it is hoped that a fresh style may be shaped for this harbor city in providing an environment for citizens to access art and bringing a brand-new look for the southern area of Taiwan.

The construction of the Kaohsiung rapid transit lines was announced by Kaohsiung City Government, and it encouraged private investment on a build-operate-transfer (BOT) basis. The KMRT red and orange lines network and related technical documentation was developed by the Kaohsiung City Government with "safety, functionality, quality," as necessary and minimum requirements. In addition to being safe, convenient, durable, and easy to maintain, it also reflects other principles, such as being comfortable, being highly textured but not luxurious, not wasting, and so forth. The fusion of aesthetics, engineering and design guidelines, subsequent architectural detail design, public art, and landscaping create the unique KMRT experience.

All copyright belongs to Shanghai Academy of Fine Arts, Shanghai University.

Progress Agency