Column 1st Iconic Building vs. Everyday Architecture
aiwan is an island located at a key position in Asia. Its geographical location has resulted in its diverse immigrant culture and the rise of various manufacturing industries. Over the process of rapid technological advancement and economic globalization, Taiwan’s industries continue to transition and transform. Globalization has brought impacts to industries and changes to economic models, and these impacts are also evident in architecture.
Over the past thirty years, globalization and information explosion have taken the entire world by storm, and supply chain has been broken up and scattered around the world, and then reconnected; all industries no longer just have competitors and partners from own or neighboring countries. Even with its deep roots in native soils, the architecture industry is also engaged in global competition; world-class star architects emerge and begin to leave their marks all around the world. Through the process, these so-called “star architects” has also left in various cities their signatures, which have become the landmarks and icons of these cities.
In a city, iconic buildings and landmark architectural projects account for just 2% of all buildings, are they enough to represent one entire city? Undoubtedly, Taipei 101 represents achievements in architectural design, engineering, and finance and economy of Taiwan or Taipei; however, Taipei 101 cannot reflect Taiwan’s contemporary architectural phenomena and the real life of its people. It only manifests a fragment of this era, and remains distant from the everyday life of the people living in the city. The remaining 98% of all buildings that scatter throughout the city, the everyday architecture, are what faithfully reflect and manifest real local social culture. They honestly reflect people’s real daily needs and desires, and interpret people’s social network and diverse everyday life. Underneath the vibrant Taiwanese society, the subjective consciousness of cultural integration and people’s living needs occupies all corners of the city; “adjustments” made by people to
adapt to the lifestyle and environment can be found everywhere. The adjustments come in rich diversity and large quantity, and have seemingly become genes of Taiwan’s urban culture. These everyday architectures correspond to people’s life and are deeply embedded in our everyday life.
The Nolli Plan uses black and white to clearly convey the relation between public and private spaces of a city’s urban texture; however, Taiwanese cities cannot use just black and white to express the spatial relation. The skyline or border of Taiwan’s everyday architecture is a dynamic process of adjustments. Public and private spaces are not in a binary opposition; rather, they permeate each other to produce different shades of grey, and more colors may be needed to present the diverse and rich lifestyle in Taiwanese cities.
In today’s world of rapid globalization, Taiwanese architecture is not just about star projects by renowned architects, but the spaces we live in everyday. Star projects and iconic architectures cannot reflect what is going on at the front. These constructions neglected by architects constantly take place, enabling Taiwanese architecture to transcend beyond all imaginations of architects, and continue to thrive.
These Everyday Architectures are one of the most defining features of Taiwan cities’ urban space is the abundance and convenience of urban amenities. This “mixed-use” mode for urban land use is drastically different from the Nolli’s Plan of Western concept of single-use zoning. Nevertheless, mixed-use zoning has made Taiwan cities’ “livability” much higher than many other cities in the world. More importantly, the mixed-use pattern in Taiwan was not a result of careful and purposeful urban planning; instead, the land use pattern evolved organically without much monitoring, making Taiwan’s case of mix-used development even more rare.