Taipei has some very cool manhole covers on the streets and sidewalks. They’re subtle, but once you start noticing them, there are some really artistic designs. They’re not as widespread as Japan’s famous manhole cover artwork, but if you look closely you’ll find some interesting examples.
Brand new Taipei manhole cover designs unveiled!
Taipei began hiring designers to work on the city’s manhole covers, beginning in 2013. Consulting with the manhole cover foundries and design expertise from Japan, the city has finally unveiled their new beautiful designs to make the streets of Taipei much more colourful!
The final designers were revealed at the The Taipei Manhole Cover Design Exhibition, and feature some notable landmarks and sources of pride of that area. While they’re not in place yet, keep an eye open for these amazing artworks!
Wanhua District Manhole Covers
Wanhua district is Taipei’s oldest district, which contains many historic buildings, temples, as well as Ximending Market. One of their new manhole covers shows elements of Monga culture, such as traditional dance, flags and firecrackers.
In their second design, the four directions of the cover show four important buildings in Wanhua. They are Lungshan temple, Bopiliao Historical Block (a former commercial trading centre from the 1800s), the Red House (today serving as a theatre), and Nishi Honganji Relics (a Buddhist temple and bell tower).
Zhongzheng District Manhole Covers
The new manhole cover for the Zhongzheng district features some of the most well-known sights of the area, the North Gate and the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall in the background. There are also kapok flowers and lilies, local flowers which also represent a 90’s student movement called the Wild Lily Student Movement.
The second manhole cover shows students celebrating their victory for democratic rights during the Wild Lily Student Movement, in front of the gates of Liberty Square.
Datong District Manhole Covers
Datong is a former commercial district, known for its Japanese and Qing period architecture, and lively night markets. This wonderful manhole cover represents the many people who walk the streets of Taipei, contributing to its development. Businessmen, builders, musicians and scientists are represented here, side by side. The view from the street level looking up is a cool touch.
The second example is a colourful and crazy futuristic look at the industry of the region. There is a rocker and a scientist working side by side, honoring the Taipei Music Center, Academia Sinica, Taipei Nangang Exhibition Center Hall, while Taipei’s wonderful trains and bullet trains zoom overhead.
Dadaocheng District Manhole Cover
The quarter of Datong has some interesting buildings honoured on the new manhole covers. Dadaocheng is the name of a historic neighbourhood in Datong. The buildings represented here are the Xiahai City God Temple and the landmark traditional apothecary AS Watson and Co.
The old manhole cover designs in Taipei
Before 2020, there were only a handful of manhole cover designs to find in the city, and only one (the Taipei 101 tower design) was in full colour. Let’s take a closer look at Taipei’s manhole cover past!
The Taipei 101 manhole cover
The most colourful example is the Taipei 101 manhole cover, which you can find in the area nearby the Taipei 101 tower. The characters translate to ‘north rain water’. The amazing rich colours of the manhole cover are made just like the Japanese manhole covers, created by filling in the reservoirs with a weather resistant paint, which then dries in place. It’s a really cool way to liven up the area around one of Taipei’s most fun districts!
The forests and lakes of Taiwan manhole cover
This manhole cover design shows the natural side of Taiwan. While Taipei is a modern, sprawling city of high rises and freeways, much of the rest of the country is made up of beautiful forests, rivers, national parks and beaches. This simplistic design pays homage to those elements.
The Taiwanese ornate flower manhole cover
The design of the flower on this manhole cover appears to be a cherry blossom design, very reminiscent of Tokyo’s iconic sakura pattern. The word ‘Taipei’ appears on the top band of this manhole cover. Inside the flower, there’s a scene which may be a road, a bridge, and falling rain.
The Taiwan lantern festival manhole cover
A little bit harder to find, this beautiful scene shows a crowd of people admiring lanterns strung up overhead. While at first this manhole cover looks like a chaotic mess of shapes and forms, a closer look reveals a crowd of spectators pointing, city buildings, and hanging lanterns. Taipei hosts annual lantern festivals at the start of the year, famous for their creative, colourful designs and amazing numbers of lanterns.
The cycling kids of Taipei manhole cover
This manhole cover is a lot of fun, showing two cartoon-style kids racing their bicycles in front of a bridge background. Taipei has some great cycling routes, especially along the banks of the Tamsui river. While this is a dark, cast-iron artwork, there are lots of fun and lively elements here, like the smiling faces, waving hand, dragonflies, and little sea creatures in the river.
Removing Taipei’s manhole covers from view
Since 2009, Taipei has been in the process of converting the manhole covers on the roads into buried concrete slabs. Luckily, this mostly applies to the manhole covers on the roads themselves, not the footpaths. The metal discs can pose safety problems for the many scooters on the roads of Taipei, and many accidents are attributed to them. They are labelled with RFID tags in order to locate them underground if they ever need to be accessed.
The RFID tagging of Taiwanese manhole covers also stops theft, as stolen manhole covers have been found as far away as China.
While not as impressive as Japan’s stunning manhole cover art, Taiwan has some really cool designs forged into the sidewalks. Next time you’re in Taipei, don’t forget to keep an eye out for some great manhole cover designs!