The tradition, the instant, and the future
The National Palace Museum is a historical building whose collection of treasures is of the utmost cultural value. From both the current and future perspective, its existence is substantially significant. Silks Palace, located adjacent to museum’s Administrative Building to the west of the main exhibition hall, takes on NPM’s unique character of tradition, disregarding formalities and pretenses but respecting the environment and, under the mastermind of renowned architect Ren-shi Yao, presenting the spirit of traditional architecture and food culture through modern construction and contemporary touches.
The exterior of Silks Palace is a visually penetratable glass veil that not only pays respect to the venue’s lush green surroundings but also diminishes the impact that a new structure would have on its neighboring buildings. At night, it comes to live with distinctive interior lighting that extends the open-space motif from the dining areas all the way out, exhibiting the joie de vivre under the nocturnal sky.
In terms of interior designs, FIHC appointed Japan’s award-winning Hashimoto Yukie to incorporate Chinese elements into every detail. The central design element throughout the complex, from the foyer and lobby, to the dividers, to the décor on the wall, is the unique crazing pattern on of Ju Kiln ware, also referred to as “frosting”. Frosting is a decorative feature unique to Sung Dynasty ceramics inspired by the concepts of ice cracks and created only with a specific quality of pottery and kiln temperature. The open atrium, which extends from the first floor to the second, creates a dining atmosphere reminiscent of ancient boarding houses. The pillars, erected on all sides of the atrium, appear in the form of Ts'ung Tubes from the Liang-chu Culture in the late Neolithic age used to offer sacrifices to the God of Earth. On the first floor dining area, round tables with a Hualien marble top and wooden rim reveals yet another amalgamation of new and old. Lighting up the hallways are lights in the shape of Tsung-chou Bells, which were used as musical instruments in the late Western Chou period. At one end of the hallway, chefs put on a spectacular culinary show in the Chinese Pastry Open Kitchen. A Palace Concert from the T'ang Dynasty, a famous painting, stands on the wall to the left. This painting shows ten ladies of the inner court sitting around a large rectangular table; some enjoy tea, while others drink wine. The four figures at the far end are playing music and livening up the atmosphere. The melodic and elegant music is to intoxicating the figures, judging from their expressions. Even the small dog under the table seems undisturbed. On the right, a Sung dynasty painting, Literary Gathering, takes the spotlight, with a group of artists gathered under a tree, creating poetry and savoring tea. These two masterpieces reflect the tight unison of historical artifacts with the dining ambience at Silks Palace.
On the second floor, ten private VIP rooms with capacities from eight to 20 lie on the sides of the atrium, each named after a legendary artist. Lan Ting, named after Wang Hsi-chih’s (ca. 303-361) Lan Ting Prologue, is one of the larger rooms, with manuscripts of the scroll imprinted on the walls. Through the fine writing, guests can experience the wonderful cloudless skies, gentle breeze, flourishing bamboos, and gushy stream as describe by Wang. Across fro Lan Ting is Don Po, named after the writer, poet, artist, calligrapher, pharmacologist and statesman of the Sung dynasty, whose Former Ode on the Red Cliff praising the moon and joy of a good gathering with wine spreads over the walls. Other large rooms include Bai Shi (for Qi Bai Shi, known for his whimsical, playful watercolor works), Liu Ru (distinguished and admirable witster), Yun Lin (sketch artist from the Yu’an dynasty), and Heng Shan (a.k.a. Wen Zhengming, Ming dynasty painter, calligrapher, and scholar). Each room is decorated with ceramics from the Sung dynasty, coupled with acrylic Chinese lanterns, mirror glass and wooden floors for a simple yet chic look. The four smaller rooms – Tai Bai (one of the greatest poets in literary history), Da Qian (modern portrait painter), Jing Xi (a.k.a. Huang Gong Wang, Yu’an dynasty painter), and Sung Xue (a.k.a. Zhao Mengfu, scholar, painter, and calligrapher of the Yu’an dynasty) – are connected by a long painting called Along the River During the Ch'ing-ming Festival from the Ch'ing Dynasty. Parts of this painting are portrayed with paper cutting art and grinded glass, when light is shone from behind, the spirited times of the city comes to life.
Upon entering the third floor banqueting hall, walls of white limestone, three ancient Chinese gateways and the luminous wall at the reception area bestow a pompous grandeur. Two sets of antique benches juxtaposed against the LED crystal lights hanging from the ceiling tells once again the story of east meets west, old meets new. All together, the 4,500 crystal lights makes the ceiling a star-dazzled sky embraced by frosted walls and glass veils, which allow a glance of the magnificent surrounding landscape.