Clock­wise from left: Can­vas bags at an out­let of home­grown de­sign stu­dio Mogu on Di­hua Street in Dadaocheng; an old red-brick build­ing on the same street; in­side URS 155 Cook­ing To­gether, a foodthemed Ur­ban Re­newal Sta­tion.

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rice whole­saler. Vacuum-packed bags of jet black and pearly white rice from or­ganic farms na­tion­wide are dis­played invit­ingly on the shelves, along­side other agri­cul­tural treasures like plum juice, kitchen im­ple­ments, and culinary-themed hand­i­crafts. As at other URS prop­er­ties, ar­eas have been set aside for ex­hi­bi­tions; on my visit, a se­ries of im­ages taken by Tai­wanese pho­tog­ra­phers of daily life in Viet­nam took cen­ter stage.

While it might be reck­less to claim these “sta­tions” have rev­o­lu­tion­ized Dadaocheng, there is no doubt that the neigh­bor­hood is well on its way to be­com­ing, dare I say it, trendy. Ac­cord­ing to the gov­ern­ment, be­tween 2011—the year af­ter the URS pro­gram be­gan in earnest—and 2015, Di­hua Street wel­comed 61 new busi­nesses and saw a 65 per­cent in­crease in the us­age rate of com­mer­cial build­ings. Amid the shrines and dried­seafood ven­dors, there’s now no short­age of book­stores, sin­gle-ori­gin cafés, gal­leries, and em­po­ri­ums such as Art­yard, which fea­tures lu­mi­nous ceramics from the likes of Hakka Blue and some­how man­ages to in­cor­po­rate Le Zinc, a cozy wine and craft beer bar that feels a world re­moved from the clamor out­side. Yet this trans­for­ma­tion doesn’t ap­pear to have dis­placed the area’s traders and res­i­dents, who con­tinue to go about their daily rou­tines. As if to un­der­line this, when I stop to peer into a shop win­dow and in­ad­ver­tently block half the side­walk, a sweet-look­ing el­derly lady un­cer­e­mo­ni­ously swats me out of the way with her um­brella.

bal­ance of com­mer­cial, cul­tural, and com­mu­nity in­ter­ests seems to have been main­tained even in Taipei’s larger-scale re­gen­er­a­tion projects. Take Song­shan Cul­tural and Cre­ative Park, which emerged in late 2011 from the grounds of the for­mer Ja­panese (and sub­se­quently Tai­wanese) gov­ern­ment to­bacco mo­nop­oly. The park is an im­pres­sive feat—es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing the prox­im­ity of the Xinyi busi­ness district—com­pris­ing mul­ti­ple city blocks of broad plazas, shim­mer­ing ponds, and lush gar­dens, all based on the orig­i­nal lay­out. The for­mer fac­to­ries and ad­min­is­tra­tive build­ings, too, have been ti­died up but left largely in­tact, slightly di­lap­i­dated but dig­ni­fied none­the­less.

Of course, they now deal in dreams rather than can­cer sticks. On any given week­end Song­shan’s old ware­houses are equally likely to be oc­cu­pied by video game launches, theatri­cal per­for­mances, an­i­ma­tion ex­hibits, or even teddy bear trade shows. There are jam ses­sions on out­door stages, gi­ant swings for the kids, and quiet book­stores and gal­leries buried deep within build­ings where it’s

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