Taichung Commercial Bank Headquarters’ building appears like a majestic vertical giant of 225 meters, which at first merely literary impact could feel like the umpteenth cavalier building built to accommodate offices and to expose its economic and social value to the city. 

Taichung Commercial Bank Headquarters by Aedas - Sheet1
Commercial Bank building and its environment_Aedas

What could be a language of power was instead treated as an opportunity for dialogue with the city and its inhabitants. The architects of the Aedas group, led by Keith Griffiths and accompanied by YSL Architects & Associates, investigated and understood the essence of a city in vertical growth and poetically expressed their vision of the world through the construction of a skyscraper perceived spatially open. 

The structure is composed of two towers that meet, leaving a void in the middle, which from the spectator’s perspective, appears as a palace that has decided to open to observers. The central void, which incorporates the company logo and the Chinese character 中 meaning ‘middle’, is not an eye from which offices can peek at the vitality of the street, nor an exhibition place of the architects’ building skills and corporation’s authority. With its exposed green areas, open floors dedicated to meeting rooms, a swimming pool, and a ballroom, what the building gives the city in exchange for its presence on a surface of 115,310 m2 is an effective green public suspended space. It’s the realisation of an idea that may seem impossible for many: to devote attention to the street’s citizens through a building for commercial and corporate use. 

Taichung Commercial Bank Headquarters by Aedas - Sheet2
The meeting at the middle_Aedas

The site’s position is dynamic both on the sidewalks and adjacent structures. It’s filled with parks, significant sports centres, cafes, shops of all kinds, a quiet waterway, and the cultural essential National Taichung Theater. The heritage of the area is therefore of vital importance, which can easily be soiled by the presence of buildings that choose the way of anonymity, the commercially closed, the material outwardly pleasant, and at the same time, socially useless in practice. Aedas’ architects were able to study the environment and the attitude of the Taiwan island’s citizens, capable and enthusiastic to live in a structured megalopolis but inevitably and intuitively sensitive to nature and the intentions of actions. 

Taichung Commercial Bank Headquarters by Aedas - Sheet3
Sidewalks’ perspective_Aedas

The construction of a high-rise building in an area of the world densely occupied by such structures is a work that requires boundless technical precision and an intellectual sensitivity that is not obvious in nowadays’ broad architectural environment. It becomes necessary to denominate and classify in depth the qualities that the citizen demands in order not to reject the work. The production of space is composed not only of the material structure itself but, above all, of the representation that the citizen produces. In the case of the Commercial Bank Headquarters building, the need to design a space that gets not appraised as hostile to the frequent people passing along the street daily was crucial. What is implicit during the production of a space is its semi-social value. A skyscraper’s semiotics has a high risk of being neutralised and damaged by the large density of the material, by the closure of its internal experiences, hence can effortlessly become a greyish and anonymous structure that, in the eyes of the observers, occupies an illicit space that belongs to the city. That is especially the case with the construction of a bank headquarter.

What is formidable in the enterprise of the architects of Aedas is the successful creation of a consumerism-based space dedicated to business and commercial affairs that is at the same time a jewel for the eyes of passers-by, not only from the purely aesthetic point of view but also, in fact, semiotic. The hallmark factor of the building’s centre as a void of suspended green space gives life to an iconography that used to be thought of when it comes to pure, abstract, magical concepts. The view of a suspended and open environment that comes out of a building not by pure chance but by an intentional architectural project is a sophisticated and powerful cognitive stimulus. The habitual or the casual bystander is sublimely forced to look up at the awe-inspiring structure and sight’s meeting with a financial subject who decides to present himself through an image and a language that recall the fable, the empathy of spaces with man, the possibility of going against the pure appropriation of space represents a radical innovation in today’s architectural state, stippled with fast and impersonal productions. 

There is no lack of speed in Aedas’ idea, consumption is at the basis of the existence of the structure, yet the complexity of its outwards-oriented organisation gives life to the pure and functional urban semiotics, in which an inner, a centre, cannot exist without its external, and without creating a relationship with it. Subjectivities are always unfathomable and insatiable, but creating an opus like this in an area dominated by rapid urban growth is a mission akin to realising a dream, in the same way that it is the fabrication of a suspended public space that needs no more solely to be trampled, but to be seen, contemplated and passed-by – pleasantly.

Taichung Commercial Bank Headquarters by Aedas - Sheet4
The building and its void_Aedas

Online Sources: 

Aedas. (2018). Commercial Bank Headquarters Mixed-use Project. [online] Available at: https://www.aedas.com/en/what-we-do/featured-projects/commercial-bank-headquarters-mixed-use-project [Accessed 3 Dec. 2022].

architectureprize.com. (n.d.). Commercial Bank Headquarters Mixed-use Project, Taichung, Taiwan. [online] Available at: https://architectureprize.com/winners/winner.php?id=646&mode=hm&compID=12786 [Accessed 3 Dec. 2022].

www.miele.com. (n.d.). Commercial Bank Headquarters. [online] Available at: https://www.miele.com/en/project-business/density-identity-commercial-bank-headquarters-5285.htm [Accessed 3 Dec. 2022].

Welch, A. (2018). Commercial Bank Headquarters Taichung. [online] e-architect. Available at: https://www.e-architect.com/taiwan/commercial-bank-headquarters-taichung [Accessed 4 Dec. 2022].

Anon, (n.d.). Taichung Commercial Bank Headquarters Mixed-Use Project – World Buildings Directory | Architecture Search Engine. [online] Available at: https://www.worldbuildingsdirectory.com/entries/taichung-commercial-bank-headquarters-mixed-use-project/ [Accessed 4 Dec. 2022].

Images Sources:

Aedas (n.d.). Available at: https://www.aedas.com/en/what-we-do/featured-projects/commercial-bank-headquarters-mixed-use-project.

Aedas (n.d.). Available at: https://www.worldbuildingsdirectory.com/entries/taichung-commercial-bank-headquarters-mixed-use-project/.


Ugne Gelgotaite, an Italian-Lithuanian artist and student, is guided by intuition and a design-thinking approach. She sharpened her interest in urban design by studying semiotics, neuromarketing, and communication. She is developing a critical and proactive point of view about research, with structuralism and epistemological optics toward the world.