The striking design of Nankang Towers creates a prominent profile in downtown Taipei. When lit at night, the glowing mechanical towers on the roof suggest a pair of giant lanterns.

Photos: Lawrence Anderson

The striking design of Nankang Towers creates a prominent profile in downtown Taipei. When lit at night, the glowing mechanical towers on the roof suggest a pair of giant lanterns.


The striking design of Nankang Towers creates a prominent profile in downtown Taipei. When lit at night, the glowing mechanical towers on the roof suggest a pair of giant lanterns.

Nankang Towers, Taipei, Taiwan

  • The striking design of Nankang Towers creates a prominent profile in downtown Taipei. When lit at night, the glowing mechanical towers on the roof suggest a pair of giant lanterns.

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    The striking design of Nankang Towers creates a prominent profile in downtown Taipei. When lit at night, the glowing mechanical towers on the roof suggest a pair of giant lanterns.

    Lawrence Anderson

    The striking design of Nankang Towers creates a prominent profile in downtown Taipei. When lit at night, the glowing mechanical towers on the roof suggest a pair of giant lanterns.
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    The striking design of Nankang Towers creates a prominent profile in downtown Taipei. When lit at night, the glowing mechanical towers on the roof suggest a pair of giant lanterns.

    Lawrence Anderson

    The striking design of Nankang Towers creates a prominent profile in downtown Taipei. When lit at night, the glowing mechanical towers on the roof suggest a pair of giant lanterns.
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    The buildings are tied together through the landscape design and a similar material palette including terracotta ceramic tile, self-cleaning white tile veneer, metal panels, and granite.

    Lawrence Anderson

    The buildings are tied together through the landscape design and a similar material palette including terracotta ceramic tile, self-cleaning white tile veneer, metal panels, and granite.
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    The narrow footprint accommodates balconies for each unit.

    Lawrence Anderson

    The narrow footprint accommodates balconies for each unit.
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    A lush, landscaped courtyard creates an urban oasis in the densely populated city.

    Lawrence Anderson

    A lush, landscaped courtyard creates an urban oasis in the densely populated city.
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    Rooftop amenities such as a running track and putting green allow residents to easily enjoy the outdoors.

    Lawrence Anderson

    Rooftop amenities such as a running track and putting green allow residents to easily enjoy the outdoors.
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    The buildings are in walking distance to the city- and country-wide high-speed rail systems.

    Lawrence Anderson

    The buildings are in walking distance to the city- and country-wide high-speed rail systems.
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    A rooftop pool area provides expansive views of the city and the mountains beyond.

    Lawrence Anderson

    A rooftop pool area provides expansive views of the city and the mountains beyond.
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    The lobby is open and light-filled.

    Lawrence Anderson

    The lobby is open and light-filled.
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    A rendering of the emerging Nankang district shows the two towers in the lower right-hand corner.

    A rendering of the emerging Nankang district shows the two towers in the lower right-hand corner.
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    Ground floor plan

    Ground floor plan
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    Ground floor plan

    Ground floor plan
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    Sample floor plan

    Sample floor plan
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    Sample floor plan

    Sample floor plan
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    Roof plan

    Roof plan
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    Roof plan

    Roof plan
The Nankang Towers condominium complex brings laid-back Southern California living to Taipei, with open kitchens designed for entertaining and terraces that provide a strong indoor/outdoor connection. Ehrlich Architects collaborated closely with the Taipei-based architectural firm to achieve the breezy, light-filled design.

“We were surprised to see how receptive people there were to this concept, but at the same time there was a learning curve and a lot of back and forth,” explains Takashi Yanai, Ehrlich Architects’ design principal-in-charge. For example, he modified the American-style kitchens with a closed, vented area for wok cooking, which is popular in the region.

The two 16-story structures employ tested, traditional materials such as tile, granite, and glass in new ways. Yanai speced terra-cotta and white self-cleaning tile in a combination of colors and orientations to create a textural look on the exterior. He also incorporated sunscreen elements, photovoltaics, and discreet glimpses of the concrete beam structure itself as architectural features.

The judges appreciated his approach. “I like that instead of being apologetic about being big, the building embraces its verticality and has good proportions and color used in a way that give it good scale,” said one judge. “The different materials and planes lead to a more vibrant exterior.”

The most striking elements of the project, two glass-enclosed rooftop mechanical towers, house the structure’s water tanks because city water pressure is inadequate to service high-rise buildings. The architect chose to clad the towers in translucent glass that runs down through the buildings’ vertical circulation core. The glass is backlit at night, which creates a lantern effect, Yanai says.

Taipei residents have embraced the project—all units sold quickly for some of the highest prices in the city and two additional 25-story towers are under construction to meet demand.

“It should be noted that we were blessed to have a wonderfully enlightened client who recognized the value of having a foreign architect come in to collaborate with them,” Yanai says. “The project evolved in leaps and bounds through this kind of cultural exchange and discussion.”


On Site

Transforming a structural component into a compositional one as well, architect Takashi Yanai exposed the buildings' concrete beam structure in a handful of places instead of keeping it hidden behind finishes. "We think the results are subtle and sophisticated and not overly self-conscious—just enough to set our buildings apart from the neighbors," he says. "Whenever we use indigenous materials or building components, whether ancient or modern, we try to take a fresh pass at the conventional application."