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Nanying Green Heart Park

At the intersection of Tainan City’s Minzhi and Zhongzheng Roads (both in Xinying District) where Nanying Green Heart Park now stands, Japanese colonists erected a Shinto shrine complete with a wooden torii archway, a dense growth of trees, 2 to 3 mysterious underground disaster shelters and an expansive lawn that played host to the first Tainan County Sports Meet in 1946, soon after the Chinese Nationalist government took over Taiwan and started island-wide reconstruction efforts. Steeped in history, that lawn officially received the name “Zhongshan Park” in 1947 and has since acted as a venue for celebratory and commemorative rituals, among other high-profile national events.

The hibiscus-encircled Zhongshan Park used to feature a martyrs shrine on its premises, the largest green space in the Xinying area. Following the shrine’s 1976 relocation to Hutoupi (in present-day Xinhua District) and the 1981 declaration of Xingying as a county-governed municipality, the local authorities launched an overhaul of public amenities and added a sports arena, a baseball field, a swimming pool and a tennis court to Zhongshan Park, which was simultaneously renamed “Xinying Sports Park” to underscore its leisure, athletic and recreational theme.

In its heyday, Xinying Sports Park was then Tainan County’s No. 1 athletic complex, a popular hangout for senior citizens seeking afternoon shade, and also part of local residents’ collective memories. The Park’s function was, however, to a large extent replaced by the newly opened state-of-the-art Tainan County Stadium on Changrong Road in a 1989 urban planning initiative, and it was renamed 7 years later as “Xinying Park”, with a stele erected on the site testifying to its evolution. Though central to Tainan locals’ childhood, leisure and public event experiences, the Park failed to stand the test of time and eventually showed signs of dilapidation, complicated by its ill-designed landscape and traffic patterns.

Under the “Nanying Green Heart” project, the grassy Xinying Park was rebranded as “Nanying Green Heart Park” with its tennis, basketball and croquet facilities moved to a neighboring arena and Cultural & Educational Land Plot No. 11 for clearly separated green space uses. Moreover, a well-engineered outdoor space was dedicated to the elderly who constitute the largest portion of park-goers, in an attempt to diversify both activities on the Park premises and land uses in each particular time slot.

To ensure maximum benefit of its makeover, the Park now features water attractions, exquisite lighting and extended service hours, in addition to a whole-new, multi-purpose lawn that lies atop a 300-bay underground parking lot designed with city hall and district office visitors in mind. Defying the “Do Not Touch” mentality of Taiwanese public arts, “My Deer Nanying ” is an enticingly groundbreaking project created to mark the Nanying Green Heart Park’s grand opening with a group of climbable, highly accessible Plexiglass figures of sika deer that symbolize Mother Earth’s inexhaustible vitality in the “green heart” of an eco-friendly, breathable city. Each distinctive and expressive in its own way, these unconventional likenesses of a Taiwanese native species are scattered throughout Nanying Green Heart Park, prancing or gazing into the distance while bearing witness to the regional history.

A nostalgic nod to Zhongshan Park and martyrs shrine, and with such additions as an artists plaza, a scenic lake, an information center, a flower conservatory and a Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) square, Nanying Green Heart Park combines the rarity of urban foliage with unforgettable memories shared by Xinying locals.