Column 4th People at the Front
From exploring Taiwan’s individual to collective everyday architectural phenomena, we begin to discover how people from different industries combine professional knowledge and tacit knowledge, and take actions to fulfill own visions and needs. Facing the beauty, ugliness, dilemma, and opportunity of Taiwan’s everyday architecture, each of these amateur architects finds their own unique solutions. Through the process of discovery and reinterpretation, professional architectural designers can once again confront and learn from these everyday architectures beyond the scope of their imaginations, allowing the world to see Taiwan’s everyday architecture that refocuses on the local soil and lifestyle in the trend of star architectures in contemporary globalization. We propose the key role played by the “ReMade in Taiwan” industries in this process, as well as their contributions to the global environment. Through reports from the front, we redefine contemporary architects’ commitment and social responsibilities to environment.
The crisis faced by contemporary architecture of Taiwan and the world is that the 2% star architectures cannot solve all real issues of people’s life and external environment. People in different disciplines with different living environments rely on own strengths and address the crisis of architecture on the front, attempting to find a way out. Using personal strength and passion, these people face the gaps between professional architecture and everyday life. Different environments, different ideas, and different backgrounds, they remain truthful to self, environment, and life, begin to connect with different organizations and people on own strength, and march forward and gradually change living spaces and environment around themselves with shared visions. The tectonic methods and processes they have experimented and implemented, the local materials and tools, as well as local societies, allow their visions and practical experiences to spread out like ripples. By discovering these people at the front of architecture, and reexamining the core demands of everyday architecture through their experience, we collect the true voices of the common people; through reflection, inspiration, and new discourse, we redefine contemporary architects’ social and environmental responsibilities and explore how architects can narrow and mend the fracture between professional architecture and everyday life.
Architects today face all kinds of complex and dilemmatic problems, such as great changes brought by globalization, overuse and uneven distribution of resources, shortage and waste of food, climate change, information explosion and reconstruction of IoT, rise of star architects, and delinking of localization of architectural design; all kinds of problems affecting global architecture sweep the entire world. Architect is a profession that deals with men’s basic living needs, a profession that connects men and environment, and men and lifestyle, and a profession that reshapes a city, society, or even people’s way of living and cultural foundation. Unlike their counterparts in the past, contemporary architects’ responsibilities today is to cope with local environment while also responding to the changes and disasters in the world.
All industries in the world are facing a natural resources crisis, and architects have a key role to play. Architects’ actions will impact natural landscape, dictate the spatial planning and use required by many industries, and set the course for men’s progressive development. Facing the natural resources crisis, many Taiwanese local industries have transitioned over the past three decades and established the concept of recycling and reutilization, fostering more professionals in the R&D of recycled materials. These are the new type of emerging industries in “ReMade in Taiwan.” Facing the emergence of these new materials, architects should consider possible applications in the industry, as well as research on materials that are environmentally-friendly. Reforming architectural materials is also a way architectural professionals can find solutions for social, natural, and environmental issues.
The voices from people at the front truthfully reflect the gap between the architectural spaces designed by Taiwanese architects today and people’s everyday life. Everyday architecture that emerges from this gap responds to the insufficiencies in living spaces and local environment that shall be addressed. On the other hand, it also reflects people’s desires and imaginations for living spaces.
When architecture does not respond to life, it becomes a mere shell without substances. Taiwan’s everyday architecture today manifests merely the gap between living spaces provided by architects and reality, and how people try to alleviate it in their own ways. As local architects face the competition from their foreign counterparts as the result of globalization, they should not forget to refocus onto the daily life of local people, and reexamine how architects can contribute on the social basis to the people and urban and rural developments—to utilize own professional skills and knowledge to narrow the gap between designs by architectural professionals and people’s real living needs. This is also the value of the existence of everyday architecture, as they truthfully voice the reports sent by people at the front. The purpose of architecture is to establish an appropriate connection between men and external environment so that life can be extended; therefore, contemporary architecture shall not drift further away from daily life.
When people construct living spaces on own strengths, when information and knowledge are no longer the absolute authority held by professional practitioners, how can contemporary architects’ social responsibilities be redefined? The meaning of design is being reinterpreted and reexamined. Design professionals shall look back at the origin of people’s everyday architecture, as problem-solving has been architects’ job since the ancient times. This exhibition proposes a new direction that defines the new value of contemporary architects. From identifying problems, observing everyday architecture, gaining inspiration, to carrying out design, how can Re:Made in Taiwan industries’ new materials transform contemporary architecture in the aforementioned process? Through R&D of environmentallyfriendly new materials and tectonic methods, changes areintroduced to the architecture industry from the bottom up, just like how the emergence of reinforced concrete facilitated a great leap in the architecture industry in the past.
interview with the People at the Front
“To me there is no remaking. I only see the nature of the material. How do I make it approachable to people again; how can I extend the life of its material nature. In addition to the nature of the material manifested through the remaking process, we could also create some artistic expressions.”
“Red brick is not only a building material, but also a kind of artin Taiwan culture."
“View those commercial systems in a new way, then observe alternative energy and rural development with different points of view."
“The advantage of slowness is knowledge gaining. As we know more, our construction methods and the ratio of materials will change in this process as well."
“For joggle joints, you must pay attention to [appropriate shape,appropriate material.] You have to consider which type of joint is suitable for certain position. When you have the right shape at the right place, it will be the strongest connection and the most effective."
“Never build a green architecture just for GREEN."
“Find solutions for your living in the natural environment is the instinct of human. Since you are not in this kind of environment, so your instinct doesn’t show out."
“I like to play with fire, which soothes our spirit. As a result, besides from indoor space, I also enjoy my time in outdoor tea shelter."
“Earth has its own functions. When you dig into the soil, and there is a rock in your way, do not randomly remove it. You just fill the earth back around it. This is the principle in the Book of Changes."
“When you build your house by yourself, then you will gain the authority of choice on your own."
“Just that in the duplication process, I hoped the client could work with me, and be engaged. This way they would get a sense of accomplishment, and most importantly, it was more economical."
“Wind-power machine tool could be referred to as a wind dam, so we have water dam and wind dam. It is intangible, we cannot see or touch it; it is about how you can recycle it."
「我們有把這土磚輕量化，基本上你們現在看到的土磚重量僅有以前的一半左右，現在每一立方米約900 公斤，以前的土磚每一立方米重量約1.5 到2 公噸。」
“We try to reduce the weight of this wall as much as possible, so basically the wall you see now is only half as heavy as before. Right now, its weight is about 900 kg per cubic meter; whereas before it was about 1.5 to 2 tons per cubic meter."
“I am not belong to architects. I would like to say that I am an entrepreneur in bamboo architecture."
“Because I push the boundary, that tends to create some problem…so the only problem is me, I just keep trying to see what I can do.""
“Why not finding out a solution to use these resources? As long as this material can be use, it should be viewed as a resource. We should not despise recycling."