Restoration Economy: This historic, century-old fish market has now been gorgeously redeveloped and economically revitalized

In Kaohsiung City, Taiwan, the Gushan Fish Market is nearly a century old.

Back in 1927, it was a fishing port and an important economic hub for local transportation, witnessing the most prosperous rise of Hamasen.

However, the economic function of the fish market was gradually replaced by the booming offshore fishing industry.

To revive the former glory of Gushan Fish Market, the Chien Ming Chao design team demolished the dangerous buildings and enhanced the surrounding environment, beautifully transforming it into the Kaohsiung Agricultural and Fishery Products Exhibition and Sales Center.

Here what lead architects Chien Ming Chao say about their project:

The imagery of boats and the sea are the features of the building, and the view outside the glass box-like building is a natural sea view.

The base is 7243.64 square meters, and the building area is 2468.38 square meters.

During the opening period, it attracted more than 30,000 visitors on a single day. The entire site is divided into the Fishery Office at the entrance, Gushan Fish Market, and the Plaza.

Inside the market is divided into Gushan Ferry Station and Kaohsiung Agriculture and Fishery Products Exhibition and Sales Center.

The design team specially re-planned the route to separate people and vehicles. Motorcycle and bicycle passengers can enter the ferry from the waiting room of the original ferry station, while other people can enter from the new waiting room to avoid danger.

This attracts fish buyers and tourists to visit the Gushan Fish Market. The key to renovating old buildings is to preserve and recreate them.

The project uses heat-resistant, durable, and long-lasting green building materials, including waterproof paint, wind-resistant glued laminated timber, double glazing, insulation panels, paints, and monolithic finish flooring. During the renovation, only the waterproofing was enhanced, and the original brick structure was retained, allowing the traces of history to be seen by all.

“Transparent architecture and blurred boundaries.” – Design team try to make the building “invisible”, and blur the boundaries, the sea, the activity, the flowing light, the boat, and the landscape. Viewing the sea is to enjoy a mood. By “fused glass” and “double sandblasted glass wall”, different looks of sunlight, climate, and reflection angles present different moods.

The sea has different colors and faces every day. The purpose of the renovation is to preserve the historical memory of Gushan Fish Market. The design team preserved many original elements and enhanced, shaped, and recreated the architectural beauty under structural conditions.

The Dutch-style masonry bricks and the connectivity of the surrounding shopping area are all free for the public to visit and explore, which further revitalizes the local economy.

The project also emphasizes environmental protection. The 330-meter-long building is recreated with a transparent box concept. The design team installed thermal insulation panels and paint overlays on the roof in consideration of thermal pollution and ventilation.

The roof ridge is equipped with ventilation windows, and the middle section of the building is with an open design, double-layer glass walls for thermal insulation, and sandblasted glass to reduce light transmission, so that the front and back of the building can be ventilated and heat blocked.

The area outside the building is decorated with plants to provide a diverse visual experience and fresh air. The wind-resistant walls are made of recyclable glued laminated timber.

The base is surrounded by a 270-degree sea view. The concept of a “transparent box” is used to create a sense of brightness, and the building has a different look during the day and night. The part in the middle of the double-layer glass can save energy at the same time, and fused glass on the exterior walls creates a water-like bubble.

The glass is specially processed to form a unique bubble look, which gives the impression of bubbles from the waves under the sunlight. The sandblasted glass walls are laminated with mesh printing, and the overlapping shading effect resembles the freshness of fish scales, making it the most beautiful fish market in Taiwan.

The entrance building is century-old with a Dutch-style brick structure. While improving the exterior of the building, the design team has preserved the original structure so that the public can appreciate the history of the market as they enter.

Gushan Fish Market served as a parking lot, and the renovation process focused on preserving the original building structure and partially using light-transmitting materials as the new building’s exterior, creating brightness while highlighting the structural beauty of the old and new ones.

The “Gushan Fish Market” old building revitalization project will link Yancheng, Asian New Bay Area, Kaohsiung Music Center, Kaohsiung port warehouse no.2, and Penglai Pier.

The core location is the best for tourism planning, forming the Kaohsiung waterfront tourism zone. It is also the aim of the design team to preserve the century-old buildings.

The project was completed this year, in 2023.

All photos are by Yi-Hsien Lee and Rex Chu.

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