The Far Eastern Department Store in Zhubei, Taiwan, introduces a distinctive and new addition to the department store experience in Hsinchu County and has also been welcomed as a platform for cultural inheritance in the area.

Architecture, Construction & Design Awards 2022
First Award | Interiors – Retail (Built) 

Project Name: Far Eastern Department Store
Project Category: Interiors – Retail (Built)
Studio Name: Lead8
Design Team: Lead8 Design Team
Area: 87,500 sqm
Year: 2022
Location: Zhubei, Taiwan, China
Consultants: NA
Photography Credits: Lead8
Other Credits: NA

The development is located in Zhubei Zhuangjing North Road, adjacent to the Hsinchu Science Park and near the high-speed railway station. The department store is spread over eight above-ground levels and two basement levels with a design that has taken inspiration from the importance of celebrating local culture, innovatively reimagining spaces using key values and elements of the Hakka culture.

Far Eastern Department Store | Lead8 - Sheets1

Hakka culture is a dominant part of Hsinchu, with Hakka family groups accounting for around 84% of the total population. Adopting the Hakka architecture was a central component of the design.

Far Eastern Department Store | Lead8 - Sheets2

The Tulou is a major inspiration within the development, symbolising a ‘roof over everyone’, protecting from rain and sun, and becoming a gathering place for the community. The designers looked to celebrate the metaphor and conceived a ceiling roof with LED screens to mimic an open sky above the Tulou structure and interiors.

On the same top floor, a traditional ‘Hakka Old Street’ enlivens the interior atmosphere, with its characteristic red brick facades, replica wooden doors and windows, flower lanterns and flooring retaining the old charm of local restaurants and cafes. The design brings to life a scene of an ancient market. The reproduction of the ‘Hakka Ancient House’ immerses visitors in cultural history with the opportunity to walk through, dine, shop and dwell within the heritage experience.

Traditional bamboo weaving is a technique that has been passed down through generations in Hakka culture. As part of the interior design, the concept has been transposed into feature walls, column motifs and signage elements across the scheme.

Tea culture also plays an important role in cultural terms. The interior material palette has been inspired by the Hakka teahouses and tea preparation rituals. Wood, tea colours, fragrance, and greenery are all used to express relaxing and intimate spaces for the basement food and beverage (F&B) areas.

This is the first time the design team delivering the interiors has extracted the traditional values of local culture to form the dominant design influence for a project. A major challenge was undertaking the detailed research, ensuring a comprehensive study of the local Hakka literature and history to faithfully present an authentic Hakka experience.

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The concept has drawn appreciation from the client and has encouraged other tenants and brands to adopt and adapt their own styles to sit harmoniously within the design. This was also the case working alongside Japanese art master Shinji Ohmaki who collaborated with the design teams in delivering the ceiling artwork on the second level.

In addition to inheriting the local Hakka culture throughout the design, the development also makes efforts to be environmentally aware. The scheme has obtained the gold-level green building certification.

Overall, the department store goes beyond typical retail design to become one of the area’s most recognizable retail landmarks.