Taipei, March 22 (CNA) French citizen Christophe Chevance has successfully transformed an old house in Chiayi City into a fashionable bistro through a program for restoring period architecture subsidized by the city government.
The French national, a painter and installation artist hailing from Brittany in northwestern France, took seven months to renovate the house, which was over eight decades old. It now offers French cuisine and snacks.
Chevance, who moved to Chiayi City three years ago, decided last year to reconstruct the decrepit house with the support of his Taiwanese wife Fan Li-chiung. Chevance was then granted a subsidy from the city government, which encourages citizens to renovate old houses and make new use of them.
In a bid to restore the house while maintaining its original 1920s architectural style, Chevance had thoroughly studied the structure of the house and collected appropriate antique materials for its restoration, according to Fan.
"He had tried hard to collect old wood and construction materials to rebuild the seriously-damaged old house all by himself. The result is so satisfactory that it has won acclaim," Fan said.
Chiayi Mayor Twu Shiing-jer, who visited Chevance's newly-opened bistro in Ronghe Street March 18, said it is of urgent importance to preserve old buildings and houses which are mainly wooden structures, in the 300-year-old city.
To encourage citizens to conserve old buildings and give them a new lease of life, the city government this year has continued with a program of allocating budgets for subsidizing renovation projects of old houses, Twu said.
Before May 31, renovation projects for old houses built before 1971 can be submitted to the city government and will receive subsidies of up to NT$300,000 (US$9,523) or a rent allowance up to NT$5,000 per month if approved by a municipal jury.
A year after the program was launched, many residents have successfully run businesses in old self-renovated houses in Chiayi City. This has not only helped them fulfill their business dreams, but has also injected new vigor into the city, officials from the city's culture bureau said.
(By C.Y. Chiang and Flor Wang)