Treasure Hill is intended to be a safe space where artists can visit, produce, display and sell their work. Along with a darkroom, Treasure Hill also has a piano room, bamboo room, business meeting room and many other options available for artists to take advantage of. In addition to studio spaces, Treasure Hill also provides event spaces for displaying art. Artists can rent different rooms, ruins or wall space around the village.
Event spaces and specialty rooms are rented by the hour or day. If you’re an artist looking for something more long term, Treasure Hill does offer artist lofts for rent as well as an artist in residency program. To qualify as a resident artist, you need: at least three years of professional experience in your field, English or Chinese ability, and to provide a proposal. Treasure Hill is even open to accepting foreigners. In fact, when I visited, an expat was occupying the underground rooms with his sound exhibit. The qualifying criteria for an artist loft are more relaxed, but of course they are also more expensive.
If you’re not an artist and just want to check out some independent, thought provoking work, Treasure Hill is a great place to explore. There are alleys, side alleys and then diagonal alleys to the side alleys. Where there isn’t an alley, there is a random narrow staircase leading up to a quiet rooftop with amazing views or an artist studio.
Honestly, take a friend and play some hide and seek, even the artists probably get together for some intense games of flashlight tag. If this is your first time visiting Treasure Hill, a good piece of advice is to just keep going up and check out the view. As you make your way around, be on the lookout for graffiti installations, rooftop gardens and old ruins from the 1930s and 40s.
Treasure Hill first got its start as an anti-aircraft compound in the 1940s. Soldiers fleeing the civil war in China came over, set up their guns, stole electricity from the city and used the river to sustain themselves. Of course, the guns are gone, but some of the old architecture stills remains.
To save the area from demolition, the settlement made a deal with Taipei City Government to do restoration work and transform itself into a self-sustainable artist community. The, official, Treasure Hill as we know it today, opened to artists and their entourage in the early 2000s.
True to form, urban agriculture has become a huge part of the community, which grows a large portion of its own food and uses filtered rain and river water when possible. Also, electricity is still kept to a minimum and they probably have to pay for it now, but the living spaces do come stocked with air conditioning and water heaters. They aren’t sadists.
In conclusion, Treasure Hill is a great place to spend an afternoon getting lost in the artist culture of Taipei. There are bars and cafes on the grounds, so you can grab some refreshment and enjoy sustainably grown food between touring the exhibits and hunting down wall art. Another great thing about aspect of Treasure Hill is that it will never get old. Artists are always coming and going, consequently, the space is always changing.
Treasure Hill is ideally located for a day trip. The community is a few minutes’ walk away from Gongguan MRT station, one of the more happening areas of Taipei, with lots of: street food, beer gardens, music venues, stores and great restaurants to choose from. If you want to expand from a daytrip, Treasure Hill has a nice hostel on the grounds, giving ordinary muggles the ability to hangout and make connections. Also, it offers fantastic views of the river that divides Taipei and New Taipei City.
The community is open to the public every day, except Monday. Opening hours for the exhibits and restaurants start at eleven in the morning and end around ten at night. Be warned, many artist studios keep their own hours and close for the day around six. Also, touring Treasure Hill is completely free of charge, making it an affordable alternative to actual museums.