Monday, August 15, 2005

Ways of Practice

PT: I would like to discuss about your architectural practice; how came you into the urban issue? Is it not difficult to run an architect office and also create urban workshops? How do you relate your practice to urban issues?

C: In principal I am thinking of setting up an alternative architectural practice: a kind of a collaborative practice. Today we know that there are two types of practices: One is the corporative office which is more like a company, a business oriented organization. The second type is more European which is more of an atelier for individual architect and more artistic.

I think there is another type or maybe there should be another type. That type is of a kind in between these two types. This in between type could be more about a networking of architects who share same ideas and similar approaches and work collaboratively. The network differs from a group of avant-gardes in a conventional sense. They still maintain each identity while interact towards the mutual goal. It is close to a NGO if you may want to have a reference.

And another realistic aspect is about the projects we could acquire. For corporative office they usually get more commercial jobs. Individual architects may have smaller commissions of individual residences or sometimes eye catching public projects. I think we could also try to formulate a new type of work. It will be sort of suggestions from the architect side to initiate projects rather than being passively waiting for the clients. Architects could be very actively involved in the social process to formulate projects. You see what I mean? That is another type of work. We initiate something for the society then we proceed to work out the design. That is a different kind of work.

PT: Initiating projects by architects… what is the debate or outcome of that? I guess it is very difficult for an architect who wants to follow to initiate projects, to deal with the power structure and established system. According that how an architect could take an active role in the society? How is it possible?

C: That is what we initiate which could be private or public, also both, a mixture of work to do. What is important is that with this kind of work architects are taking a positive role in the society. We try to solve the problems in the city and try to make it into a proposal then manage to realize it. This is the other way around. To work out something for the people rather than the client ask us.

The globalization as it is may end up only islands for the rich and the rest will be drowning. We feel that architects are so helpless in this. In many situations we can only obey our clients and can do nothing. Or, we could just stay within our own imagination and try to do something interesting to please ourselves. But, still no hope for the betterment. Quite depressing somehow… I think all architects feel so… even the big ones or the ones successful in commercial circle. Urban Flashes was certainly out of this motive.

PT: Do you think by this way, with this architectural practice you can reach all levels of the society?

C: I think each time for the UF workshop I try to get in touch with the local people, both ordinary people and high-ranking officers at the same time. In Istanbul I was trying to direct it to the public, but we didn’t go through enough. Maybe the system is a bit more rigid in a way to get in touch with the government and for people to understand what we are doing.

Before I came here this time I was in Bergen of Norway. We had a quite good discussion with urban planning officer of Bergen city government. There were seeds planted and we could wait for the growth. That’s the thing that it is very good for the city. Here, in Istanbul is more difficult.

PT: What it is the reason behind it; maybe the city is too huge and the system is unorganized but rigid…

C: Yes, but also the social system is hierarchic. The decision-making people are being hidden, sitting behind the society and looking at the society. Architects, on the other hand, are not motivated and being considered as draftsmen like in many countries.

The first UF workshop was in Taipei in 1999. At that time I invited architects and artists from aboard to look at the future planning of an abandoned brewery site in central Taipei. We tried to expose the proposal to the public through advertisement boards, major newspapers, TV channels and, then, the Taipei city government noticed us. Then, after one or two years both the central government of Taiwan and the Taipei city government actually took our advice and designate the site as a visionary park for arts & cultural uses, which is exactly our original proposal.

Before our intervention, they were planning to build a new council building on the side of existing office buildings of the central government. They already had a competition and selected a massive office building design. But we tried to say that we should build something else there, and they agreed. It is now in the process of implementation.

PT: For example in Berlin they transformed the one of the most important public space, the Postdamer Platz into expensive, huge office buildings…most of them are useless. Most of them are so expensive that people are not able to rent them; and also as a public space it was very important place for years, however now is useless. People are spending time and re-creating spaces in other parts of city and Postdamer Platz is now just for tourists or just for buildings. That is a kind of wrong urban strategy…

C: That was a disaster… That is what’s of pity in the current situation in many cities. I think it is a key problem what we are looking at all the time in different cities. The local people actually need our help, need our methods to intervene and to forge visions. And that could more effectively provoke the public and the government in respective city. We hope to work with the local people and try to disclose the true nature in their living environment and kick them to be aware….

PT: Like Yona Friedman since 60s, he has also same kind of strategies in urban and architectural scales. Once he explained a kind of method that operates with group of architects mostly intellectuals between the system and the local people that they can communicate and understand the local people. Mainly housing and this kind of problems and then translate and formulate and try to give a solution as a kind of “in between” group. It could be government or planning group and this group could work for the both sides for the public, local people and then translate and formulated to. But I told also to Yona, there is a kind of hierarchy, if I want to look in critical way. Because sometimes the local people don’t know their needs and isn’t it a kind of another hierarchy to operate as a translator group? If you want to look it in a critical way it is also a discussion I think when you work with local people. What do you want what do they want. Their needs are important not the architects or intellectuals needs.

C: I think Friedman was more about suggesting some kind of mega-structure of the 60’s, but what I am thinking is of a micro-approach. It is more about small things, insignificant elements and trying to activate these small areas in the city and then change the city. So I do not propose any big plans. Friedman’s mega-structure is a different approach.

I think more from the stance of ordinary people. Ordinary people can only have small things, such as a cup of Turkish coffee. They do not possess anything extra and cannot have more than that. They have to use these small things to improve their lives. So micro-urbanism is about how to use these micro-materials to re-organize and re-engage the city as a new architectural and urban design approach.

PT: Do you have or developed specific methods in mirco-urban practice, how you think these methods operate and works in different locations and do you think there is a general method or do you have to find the dynamics for every location itself?

C: Certainly. In contrast to macro-approach usually from top down, micro-approach is from bottom up and inside out. What I usually do is to identify the ‘micro-zones’ in the city, where ordinary people may have more attachments, encounters, and conflicts. Within the microcosms people manage to survive by taking immediate solutions to their problems, which could be recognized as ‘tactics’.

The linkages of micro-zones will eventually provide a map of micro-zone web of a city, which shows the real living conditions within macro-planning structure. The tactics disclosed will be transformed into design tools for shaping future scenarios, which include new programs, projects, and visions.

The new scenarios would deform the existing web found previously and further elaborate the tactics on a broader scale. The deformation is supposed to be the adjustment of urban development as chemical permutations rather than formal interventions. Visual and non-visual design proposals will be delivered accordingly that is the procedure. It is both a general method and an approach for specific locality.

PT: We know that there is the betel nut chewing habit, which affects the physical and also social texture of Taipei with betel nut business. Are there another effective factors like betel nut and if there is how these affect the urban condition?

C: As a small business, girls hired to sell betel nuts has to be very actively engaged with the customers who drive by, so they dress in sexy costume standing in a glass box with flashy lights and flirting with the buyers for fun. This is a common tactic I identify as ‘deception’.

The contemporary image culture is bred under the human need to obtain mis-oriented satisfaction. The advertisement alluring the viewers and conditioning the sensation and conception of the reality is not new. How we see these tactics in the light of a form of exchanges and re-place it in the architectural and urban design is more challenging.

PT: Do you borrow some ideas from the Situationists International (SI) movement from 60’s? Their spirit of urban tactics of SI is quiet influencing in urban and visual issues. What do you think of it?

C: Of course, if you see the design of the cover of Urban Flashes books, the red color and the arrows, which I use different kind of shape and simple line drawings of Letrism made by computer software are out of influences from Situationists. They are the main sources. But, what I am doing is probably different from the 60’s. My work is more about the next step to re-shape the city than being critical about its failure.

PT: How do you differentiate the Western and Eastern cities? What is the difference between those two types of cities physically, socially and culturally? Generally big eastern cities seem more chaotic than western cities, how do you evaluate the term ‘chaotic’ in urbanism?

C: Cities of the East in general are after Chinese models. Western cities in general are after Geek & Roman models. The Chinese model emphasizes supernatural orientation and the hierarchy of streets in grid system. The Greek & Roman emphasize the public enclaves and grand diagonal axises. The third major model is the modern mode of anonymous grid with building volumes distributed by land value.

Today European cities evolved more like a patchworks of different periods. The segregation of social classes is more obvious and somehow you have a sense that Europe is not really looking forwardly in term of cultural transformation. People prefer an idyllic environment. Modernization is more an utilitarinian tool than a new way of life.

Asian cities are more of a complex overlay of the traditional patterns and modern planning. In Taipei, you do not recognize the social differences from the area and the look of the buildings. Rich people may live next to low-income housing. And, a rich person may just be the owner of a food stand at the corner of the street nearby. Recent telecommunication technology is altering the priority of infrastructure in the city. More digital signboard, computer game shops, monitors, electronic devices, halfway stations are exigently installed and integrated into everyday life.

‘Chaotic’ is a meteorological term we use to describe the above-mentioned condition. For an analysis of a complex phenomenon, Chaos theory could illuminate a part of the transitional process in it. There always exits discrepancy in scientific reduction including the association with swarm of bees to decipher the urban complexity. I like to use plasm, plasma, or plasmodia to relate to urban condition which is in reality primitive, incidental and irrational. But, more importantly I think it is a new way of life which is of fast moving images, mobile connections, rearranged mixtures, time-sharing mechanism and intelligent animations. And people enjoy it.

PT: Generally non-western societies searched their own modernization process/paradigm. How was it for Eastern cultures?

C: In the East, people gradually adapted to the western ideas through intellectuals and books over hundreds of years process... The modernization was not forced by colonization. Only Hong Kong and some countries in South East Asia on the trade route were long term colonized by the West. Japanese emperor set up modern policies in 19th century and Chinese overthrew imperial dynasty in 1911. I think it was after WWII Taiwan and Korea starting to fully grasp technology and world market. Especially After 70’s, cities in East Asia were rapidly developed, including Tokyo, into a hyper-complex condition.

PT: I think they adapted new economical model, political and social strategies. I think they did in a very short time and maybe this is where complexity comes from; a complexity with the combination of local…

C: No, that happens before the 70’s. The modernization process occurred much earlier. After 70’s, it was another story of new conditions. The crazy development is not really a part of modernization, rather post-modern phenomena. In fact, I think we need to get out of the Western discursive track to find another term for this after-modern development in Asia.

PT: Yes, Yes, this is the problem from general economical crisis in 1970s. So, economical system gained power over states/nations. Private companies lead to post-Fordist economical strategies. So, I am speaking not about 1970’s, I am speaking about the economical problems above the cities after 1970s. How the cities where shaped with post-Fordist economical strategies?

C: Maybe before the 70’s, especially Taiwan and Korea are having the role as production backyards for the developed countries. Japan may already go beyond that stage at that time. After 70’s, Taiwan and Korea also went beyond that. Now China is taking this role as a production yard of the world where cheap labor is available. Paradoxically, when investment of production going to these places, in the meantime the technology is also being imported. Taiwan and Korea were under these forces gradually building up their competence of high technology and being more active as providers of sophisticated products.

The less formal sector was always an inevitable part of economy in Asia. The ‘home factories’ and entrepreneurs of small industries of specialization were key factors in the process of laying the ground of economy, especially in Taiwan. Japan also started from low-end industries after WWII, then reached the 2nd world economy in the 80’s.

That is why cities took rapid changes out of many inner sorts of drives after 70’s. People create new life styles, new types of public space, and new kinds of program and urban fabrics. Then, reached an unprecedented complexity, a kind of complexity in one way very interesting, on the other hand is quite mystic. So Rem Koolhaas is quickly tempted by these phenomena. However, he looks at it from a distance and doesn’t really understand it. He is simply using it as a tool for his work. May not even be interested in its true nature. Thus, we are very important voices here in this aspect. We have to say something from another angle.

PT: How do you see recently the western approach? How do you situate yourself as an architect in western paradigm? Do you think that architects from non-western societies could speak for themselves?

C: I think one of the reasons that they don’t understand is it is very new. I think they are thinking as they were in the 70’s in city planning and architecture. The Western cities and their profession haven’t really changed. For example, Archigram from the 60’s is considered farsighted in the West as they had proposed instant city, network city, image apparatus and mobile lodges, etc.. Those proposals are actually being part of everyday life in Asia at least since 20 years ago.

In general, The Dutch circle is quite productive with less quality. They continue to sell their aesthetics. The English-speaking circle is disinterested in reality. Some just merge themselves in form genetics through CAAD and CAAM. The German circle is hardheaded as usual. I think a new condition arrived and should try to do something else.

We also know architects in the West who do not like to be in a crowd. Therefore, I think a network of independent architects and artists globally is necessary. It is a fight.

PT: Do you want to say something about Istanbul and compare to Taipei and Istanbul?

C: Istanbul is a city I can learn a lot of things. It indicates the city in the process of formation. It is not about planning. It is more about the interactions of people. And then eventually evolves into this condition. I think Istanbul is a case probably more useful and relevant for today’s discussion. The condition here to me is a database showing how tactical moves define spaces. If we can achieve doing something here then we can apply the experiences to any other places.

Taipei is flat. Istanbul is hilly. Taipei is not a harbor city as Istanbul is. The population and density is roughly similar but Istanbul exceeds Taipei according to statistics. Taipei does not have deep history and not much left today while Istanbul has historical layers of thousands of years. I think what’s in common is the rawness of both city which displays a naked state of how people manage to survive in the city.

PT: You also wrote some books about architectural thinking and cultural observations. It seems to me that you are interested in more emotional and spontaneous way of thinking of architectural practice? How could it have effect on the education of architecture?

C: I always want to emphasize one thing: city or even architecture is not out of rationality. We had mistakes trying to rationalize it and provided the market for that. I think we should try to get a control of this rationalist idea and find another way to work. It is very important to set up a track in the future that could be a new route for education. Now the school is being kidnapped by mentality, which is out of insecurity of insanity. My idea is not really new. It has been tested throughout the history of architecture. I hope our UF workshop for example is a kind of educational platform. It is an education not only for the youngsters but also for all the participating architects. Gradually we will built up consensus and become clearer and to be confident about our approaches. And then we would be more on solid ground.

PT: It is a level of communication, creating a communication level. Architects, Urban Planner, Artists and Social Scientist have different methods and ideas, but with interactive way of establishing communication ways to create a consensus.

C: Also it is nearly more artistic. Artistic ways are not about working on clever stuff. I think it is more spontaneous more lively, basically, more from instinct and basic knowledge of life. Architect doesn’t need to be more intelligent or to be able to produce certain forms. I always say architect has to be formless. I think there is a side of very simple realm and at the same time artistic. It seems too individualistic from outsider’s view. But it is not individualistic at all. Everybody is an individual. The flow of actions and each has his own tactics to survive are so important and artistic.

PT: Could you please give examples from the project about your ideas/approach that are realized in various cities?

C:In Venice Biennale 2000, I exhibited a project entitled ‘Z Tunnels’ to demonstrate how to place small elements to enhance the urban transformation in a major park zone in Sin-Chu, Taiwan. The original commission to us includes a new museum, a new park, renovation of several old buildings, and reservation of a historical Confucius temple. We suggested to the city government to add new programs and new tunnel-like structures to weave detached tasks on the urban scale.

The tunnel-tubes were very detailed designed and carefully positioned in a random fashion to create a new layer of city orientations and walking network. Each tunnel serves a different function for the park zone and its related facilities. One of the tunnels was as humble as a drainage ditch on the ground with extra use as sitting bench. One located inside of museum is equipped with monitors, LED signs and interactive fiber lightings as an information tunnel. Some are more visible as a building or a public space being part of landscape.

These elements are seemingly useless and unnecessary, and it approaches formless. My intention is to give an example of micro-urban diagnosis and treatment by employ low cost means to improve the city. At Arsenale exhibition hall, we piled up hundreds of square candles to make a low wall on top of the flat design drawing on the ground. It is like the way we put simple elements in a city, which direct the viewers in the space. When candles lit up and burned out, the process is an ongoing journey of Odyssey.

( Interview with Ti-Nan Chi by Pelin Tan, XXI, Istanbul, 2004 )

Friday, July 15, 2005

Disappearance of Politics

Reality is the consequence of conflict within human will and energy. We commonly place great importance on intention and action, with the result that social movements and the decisions and acts of power holders become the focal point of world attention. On this premise, the built environment in particular is treated as an object and medium to be fiddled with and fabricated into all sorts of masses and shapes. This kind of fiddling and fabrication is in a certain sense an excessively sedulous display of artificiality. Generally speaking, under sociopolitical functions, the principles of our environment often come from monotonous, cause-and-effect concepts, to the point that reality is changing in a predictive mode. At the same time, applied through our faith in social justice and concern, the need to change reality expands as so-called public consciousness or collective will. Consequently our living environment continues to be shaped by the optimistic beliefs of the public. Yet people stress the weakness of the human role in this world, noting for example, the futility in fighting with nature, the vicious cycle in the urban megalomania, or the hopelessness of understanding and communication, and the struggle between individuals and the state. All of these phenomena show the baffling and unfathomable nature of reality, yet people are still determined to fabricate reality for their personal satisfaction and the satisfaction of others in the unending, muddled rush. I am not saying that fabricating reality is false or empty. What I want to say is that the tangible and formalized method of fabrication is execrable. On the other hand, the intention to fabricate can be aimlessly accidental, following the intimate reactions of the experiential world. At this time, the fabrication of reality will no longer be a pre-supposition nor will it echo ethical norms. Rather it will gradually become a part of reality and develop and evolve with reality. This kind of fabrication, which may be called the 「disappearance of politics,」 can be used to replace all political methods and slogans. Most importantly, it is a way to consider spatial situations as the fundamental arena of reality and a basic paradigm for political application. In this way we can completely escape from the interior war of social forces and fully merge with the adventures of life to create a new beginning for human society. Simply said, the composition of society can escape the cage of human planning and artificial constructions. We can break the very nature of manmade constructions and try to use instead non-human, non-material knowledge and images. Social content will multiply in the flow of corporeal desire, and in the twists and revolts of spatial situations, individuals will become the essence of political activity, completing the stages of human self-revolution and transcending the collective nightmare. There is no doubt that architecture will clear the way toward the disappearance of politics. Architects no longer play a divine role and have no right to carry out any divine decrees. Nor ought they feel like representing any public opinion. Architecture is only an image of another world from an architect’s personal world. Brought into reality, the spaces become an oppression and self-indulgence that impacts every minute and second of our thoughts and feelings as it accumulates chaotically in cities. Through learning and selection, people gradually begin to live in a state of sudden encounters. This begins with the touch of a wall, walking down a bright corridor, weaving through furniture and lights, or entering a room under the eye of a video monitor, pausing to look at the face of a singer on a TV wall, touching another person and being squeezed into a small, sealed cell. Sometimes it alters the habit of sleep, passing from a dream to another city, or being submerged in a bathtub. One cannot help but swallow some unidentified stuff from the network download. Sometimes it is the degree of ease of passing between glass and air that creates the basic impression of a building. All of this imperceptibly forms the concept and reality of our lives in which architects participate but are not necessarily present. The disappearance of politics is not an alternative for politics. It is an alternative for wandering into the corner, replacing it with a fortuitous encounter on a stroll. Even a guerrilla warriors uses certain concepts to support their moves. Nihilism is a ubiquitous meeting and parting, giving rise to many dimensions, levels, and universes. Architecture thus, is endlessly through material morphogenesis in the immaterial state of non-human environments approaching annihilation. Ti-Nan Chi ( tangibleintangible, Garden City publication, 1998, pp56-61 )

Wednesday, June 15, 2005


Things of the world often appear in various form. In architecture, the principal image has been one of spectacle. Its hypothetical existence attempts to fill out the contours of objects, eliminating in course their primary elements. Perhaps this is because of lacking substance, requiring exaggeration to attract notice. The problem is that what seem to provide appropriate stimuli are in fact random and unnecessary: impenetrable outgrowths consuming space until nowhere is left to escape.

This is in fact a form of social engineering. Architects might already be accustomed to and compliant with this global fakery. This is apparent when merging in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo, Singapore, Seattle, Frankfurt, Milan, New York, Chicago, Osaka, Toronto and ……………. My purpose is not to criticize the urban strategy the 20th century offers, and thus I have no intention to discuss the history of urban development or urbanization problems. Urbanization is essentially a mixture of the material and immaterial. Between matter and non-matter lies the consciousness of a city. Inevitably, though, accretion turns cities into inexplicable chimeras. City builders attempt to reverse the irreversible possibility of chaos; using superficial means to cover what underneath has long been human degeneracy and nature.

Beneath this temporary facade, we can still peel back the thin, frail membrane and dig for latent vestiges amidst the scars. When we consciously look for these remnant emotions waiting, it seems, for extinction, the whole environment is implicated beyond credulity. Yet through persistent effort and unintentional contact a new landscape is depicted. At first glance it seems an aberration. But on closer inspection we discover another way that matter adheres to reality. This attachment is neither escapist nor destructive. Rather it is the true face of existence. All things await death. Death uses various forms of reluctance to let go to warn us. Except for the overly optimistic or delusional, people generally accept that death has registered their allotted space and time here.

If architecture ceases to produce totems of spectacle, its momentary features must thus be chosen from various derivatives of things and nothing, even though this may fail to attract attention. At this point, architecture will no longer be classified as visual art. In other words, visual art will create, through non-plastic theory, indistinct shape and texture. In the end, architecture will ceased to be confined to the visible world. We have long been too busy to differentiate the distinction between existence and non-existence. Being not being is to actively engage in the city between the world we live in and our existence.

Tangibleintangible is neither a pre-fixed position nor a building theory. It is an unclear condition related to the disassembling building techniques can be disassembled. It is also difficult to describe in serial chapters. I believe the basic dilemma of modern architecture in the 20th century begins with its impatient rush into a specialized, systematic lanes.

Unintentionally, it has locked itself a grand cage and neglected the delicate constitution of material existence. Clearly I also am alluding to a phase of social and political revolution, in which the basis of the real world is reshaped. The state of being not being can induce evaporating of political incidents. In the manifest activity of new man and matter, we can enter a new society of tangibleintangible.

Ti-Nan Chi

( tangibleintangible, Garden City publication, 1998, pp12-16 )

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Playing while Revolting

As French film director Guy Debord indicated :" The capitalist need which is satisfied by urbanism in the form of a visible freezing of life can be expressed in Hegelian terms as the absolute predominance of the peaceful coexistence of space over the restless becoming in the passage of time" . It is noticeable that present urban area as developed in this century represent forms of commodity for the mass society. Cities usually provide image of efficiency, regulation and prosperity under a simple unification rational to generate streets and volumes to occupy the natural land.

To be more specific, current architectural profession has long been part of the production system which direct building industry to conform investment. Architecture has to take the crust of a building in order to prevail, while inevitably programmed and reduced into pseudo-needs to maintain economy. Those seemingly active theorizing of Modern, post-modern or deconstruction, chaos, fold etc. are vulnerably pushed aside as irrelevant stylistic indulgences. The hard-core determinant of built reality could never been truly independent as a free expression of genuine situation of living. In another word, architecture now could never be truly human and livable in a sense, let alone ushering creativity and imagination of 21st century.

Architects of my generation bounded to face the unknown changes of next century. Prophecies, whether mythical or scientific, allure us to an even greater uncertain and dreamy mood. My acquainted contemporaries probably all share a resisting hunch, trying to push architecture into the realm of sensational techno-syncratic topography to awaken individual situations, and to fight with the spectacle , imagery of urban empire, hierarchic society and grandeur of past memories.

Back to the Asian world, I would particularly state that, after post-colonial restructuring of global economy and politics, Asian societies jump into world cyber-information networks, which, in my view, risks continuing feudalism with a different costume. The masses could be just sleeping in an ongoing megalomaniac manipulation from an outer space of busy transmissions, simulations and amplifications. Meanwhile our urban development optimistically follow 19 century modes. Natural environment and traditional cityscape and texture are there for exploitation. Architectural innovation would usually mean the succession of national economic growth for which cost efficiency, profit security and profound image of massing are considered.

In 1984, when I just came out of military service of Taiwan, I started to watch closely the everyday space and people in Taipei. Some half-way done house and illegal constructions attracted my attention. What interests me is that these built works are spirited with very natural and spontaneous reaction towards living in a congested and always humid conditions. These habitants re-arranged their living environment by building up alternative structures of their own to meet specific needs, expressions and changing milieu. Some of these works are ugly. Some are utilitarian plain. And you can find some quite articulated and thoughtful cases. They respond to the surrounding forces in a very resolute, yet plastic way.

Groups of these kind of settlements scattered in the city, like nomadic wanderers seeking better place for home . They are particularly sensitive about genius loci of the site. Having been intentional squatting city corners or vacant lots, these structures revitalize the existing city. Sometimes these areas occur to be the most fun place for certain people in the city, either strolling or gathering. Until one day, when the city official starts regulating actions on these areas, soon they will disappear hardly leaving any traces except memories with local people and dwellers themselves.

The observation resulted in a drawing for the Shinkenchiku international competition 1984, A style for the year 2001 , in which I tried to delineate the chaotic phenomena of Taipei city while choosing the site of Rome, the eternal city in the West, Professor Koji Taki commented:" It does not depict poverty or slum conditions, and it would be a mistake to see its village of anarchic, primitive and punk-like vitality as the fate awaiting today's cities or to see the Asian city depicted in ironical contrast to the modern city" . Indeed, it was intended to be a positive and optimistic proposal for the city future, suggesting a playful and complex synergy of the formation of urban space without imposing any formal precedent.

I will not get too romantic in order to keep focused on the issue of urban architecture with psycho-geographical nature. Again, a situationist invention, psycho-geography is conceived of as the studies of the laws of specific effects on the emotion and behaviors of individual in the environment. My experiment on fluctuating lifeworld took the art form of installation. The work titled realism on space of Taiwan displayed at an alternative space in 1991 was an investigation on the private and sensual space obsessed by Taiwan people. The work occupied an ordinary townhouse floor with 10 narrow subdivisions as rooms in which re-designed traditional benches inserted and a TV monitor mounted on the inner wall. Flashing light bulbs were on top of several standing panels to create commercial signboard effect and an ephemeral atmosphere. It was a critique on the status quo, the kind of space one sees in the massage barber shop (brothel) or MTV, KTV chambers common in Taiwan. On the other hand, I realized that, with slight differentiations, the environment could alter drastically and the power of individual space is crucial.

In 1994, Z house project had the opportunity in dealing with both public and private domains. The site is a typical townhouse lot located alongside the major boulevard of Kaoshiung city, the largest industrial city in Taiwan. Within rapid high-rise real estate development and facing traffic flow, it planned to include private residence, research laboratory and gallery space altogether in 5-story building; it has to take a strong hold of its authenticity in contrast to the fake glory of the expensive housing nearby, a stance congruent to client's role as a sturdy historian. By compressing one site of the box, I created a concaved room for courtyard and for acquiring light for the interior space. Then, the frontal shape began twisted a little, standing as a figural gesture to the street. Inside of figural corn became an enclosed dark space of protection. Therefore, it is responsive and reserved at the same time, lively transforming the typical box-like townhouse into an individual situation asserting a rather idiosyncratic quality, while defending against the final siege of banalization by capitalist society.

Cited in SD review 1995, this design also emphasized the changing milieus and homelessness as the key issues for architects today. We no longer believe in a grand solution for human habitation, which tends to stagnate our life and history. Dwellings need not to be necessarily rooted in the ground. Each unit of living space is essentially temporary waiting to be changed, like one day a house could sit on the wheels moving to the seashore to watch sunset. This mobile inclination violates territories, shaking the urban condition into a new type of anarchy in which cooperative multi-layering social and cultural interactions can emerge.

Current rural landscape was under the same ideology reflects the other side of story of urbanism. Large industrial zones, amusement parks, vacation villages, suburban housing and shopping centers are integral parts of the urban strategy with consumeristic logic and values. Relief X , the national art park project won from the competition attempted to rescue natural land. I managed to redefine the land form by extending continuities of topographical features, by bending geometrical edges, by digging caves and, above all, by squeezing the land skin into a relief on earth, similar in shape as occurred in Z house. Man, as wanderers, will be encouraged walk on and through the site of feel this found landscape in which artist workshops, artist residences, galleries and other supporting facilities merge in. Thus, natural environment will be re-introduced and re-created, rather than deployed for purpose.

This radical attitude lies in the same direction as that of urban approaches which hope to set forth the ultimate concern of creative understanding and appropriation for the particular situation. Architecture is a way of discovering the truthful, not necessarily the truth, in the voyage of life and time. Architects have to play with the substance at hand while triggering the collapse of the edifice of dominance.

Being innovative without imperative.

Ti-Nan Chi
( This essay was presented at the International Symposium on Innovative Architecture in Asia 1996, Osaka, Japan )

Friday, April 15, 2005


“新竹玻璃工艺博物馆”之基本构想来自于针对未来都市发展所提出之都市设计策略,尝试在新竹市中心的“新竹公园”地区注入新的都市元素,增进居民在城市空间中 生存的活力与趣味,我们统称在此地区所作的规划设计案为“Z隧道计画”( Z tunnel project),“新竹玻璃工艺博物馆”为其中主要工作任务之一。

“Z 隧道计画”主要内容系针对“新竹公二公园”中五栋旧建筑物之更新,在其中一栋预定再利用作为“新竹玻璃工艺博物馆”使用的日本时代建物中,有一个介于内部 两座主要楼梯之间的必经通路,走过此通道时有如穿越“隧道”一般,由于“隧道”具有心理地理学上的重要意涵,于是我们尝试引用“隧道”的概念作为此地区空 间运动与连结的模式。





由于是在一个十分纯粹的思考状态下进行的设计工作,所提出的设计案能够瞄准理想中的空间与行为课题,唯在实践这些具有超越性的设计理念时,我们预期会遇到不 少现实条件的限制,包括在绘制合约图说的方式上,需要寻找新的做法,在构造细部的执行上,也必须努力克服一般公共工程施作上的因习成规;我们准备接受挑 战,一方面尝试跨出一般商业性事务所的工作模式,一方面因应台湾政治、社会与营造业现况,试图找出属于台湾的另类工作方法。

全案的基本设计构想来自对于旧宪兵部队 (含日本时代的自治会馆以及民国时代的增建) 建筑空间的认识与了解,我们发现该建筑物中有一个联系前后主楼梯之晦暗的走廊,为整体建筑空间构成之核心,也可说是此历史建筑的内在精神所在,我们将此走 廊转化成为一中央隧道的概念,以引导出未来博物馆之动能,并在中央隧道结合了多媒体设配备形成“资讯隧道”,将影像、声音及文字符号融入步行观览之经验 中。


为保存历史建筑之完整性,原始外墙与木窗扇尽量恢复原貌,主入口门厅天花与主入口左侧旧木楼梯完整保存; 另增设游客中心与玻璃工作坊以容纳与博物馆展示内容不相容之休憩、售票、贩售、玻璃工艺制作等使用需求,维持博物馆历史空间之纯粹性。


重要灯具系邀请国际当代艺术家以玻璃艺术方式制作,并以霓虹灯管制作室外的公共艺术品与厕所标示,原宪兵队部禁锢室内的墙面、地面、囚室栅栏、马桶、冲水 器、方块棉被、洗脸盆、钢杯、拖鞋等,转换成名为“玻璃监狱”的装置艺术作品,同时将旧圆形木窗内之一般窗片改换成手工镶嵌玻璃窗片,并将回收之强化玻璃 碎粒填充成游客中心的外墙壁面内,提供玻璃艺术发展之新方向,将建筑空间与玻璃艺术深入融合。

在发包前,我们特别重视特殊施工项目之施工说明与规范,以保障施工品质,我们预计以三个月的时间完成,而实际施工进度超前,落实了整体施工监造计画方针 – 长考短作。


施作细节中值得一提的是,外墙古瓷砖之烧制曾经陶艺专家提供用药经验,而节省了试做时间,且降低成本;整体粉光地坪系研拟新法混入高强度抗裂纤维,外覆无膜 防水涂料,以防止起沙与龟裂;铁作部份均以一贯作业配件采组装方式进行,减少现场切割整修之工时,并保持完成面之平整,黑铁钢板表面采透明涂料处理,以呈现铁板在熔烧过程中温度差异所留下的原始痕迹。




玻璃构造中的构件设计要极精准、接头收边要极简明,充分发挥玻璃材料的本质与结构可能性。在“新竹玻璃工艺博物馆”中,两栋旧建筑物之间特别以“玻璃结构 桥”连结,这座玻璃桥长度为六米,超过欧洲五米长的玻璃结构桥先例,不只四周空间全以玻璃包覆,行走桥面下的支撑梁也使用由德国与日本进口之内含杂质成分 在一定标准之下的结构玻璃片。



Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Visual Structure

We have a responsibility for what the visual language should include today. We are used to learn in our profession a tradition where we consider the fewer things – or one by one. We need a visual language that talks about the greater number, to make all people and situations visible. The Visual vocabulary; Individual “marking” ,and develop a personal language. It is our signature in the landscape. The totality is more then adding up the different pieces into one.

Here at our school we are operating with a term called DAV (Den Andre Verden = The other World) – DAV is the key to visual understanding. “Visual Structure” is included under this umbrella. Visual Structure is built upon the teaching of form, at the artist academy in Warszawa, by the professor Oskar Hansen*.

We teach visual structure as an introduction to the 1th year students, then more advanced courses throughout the 2th and 3th year, and as group courses in our 2. part the 4th class students. Professor Svein Hatløy who teaches is in collaboration with the other teathers. We will also build one of our courses in part 3, the post-graduate program on our visual structure methods.

Here are some examples from the teaching prosess:

visual structure–drawing:

It could be useful to work on a drawing over a longer period – to learn to see. As one of the traces this is row of practicing, from simple expressions of a few elements in a closed space, to complex expressions in open form with various objects.

visual structure–“form of space”:

As professor Oskar Hansen taught it – Looking and Seeing, this is training the ability of seeing. As with most of the practices in visual structure, this refers to a situation already given, or which is created during the process. Looking and seeing – what makes you choose what you do? Show it!


It is important to create a reflected and controlled relationship between person and object, seeing the object walking around it.

visual structure–contrasts:

Concrete qualities of form characteristics–different types of contrasts between objects. Of size, of shape, of heavy and light, all presented visually.

visual structure–the concept of pressure and tension

visual structure–open form, dynamic expression, continuity and simultaneity.

visual structure–by the great number of elements:

Making a great number of identical elements legible by adding more elements in a visual structure, not taking away existing elements.

The richness in this expression lies both in the number of elements and in their individual identity. To make this comprehensible more elements are added artistically. The readability lies in an expanding order by a visual structuring. The quality of all the forms, as well as the richness of the whole, would get lost if we take away elements to make it readable. An open form as this will loose its qualities if the elements were restructured into a geometrical order.

Oskar Hansen, Architect and artist, professor at the Art Akademi in Warzow (ASP) gave name to the theory ”Open Form” in 1959 on the TEAM X-congress in Otterlo, Nederland. Oskar Hansen have worked directly from this scheme on the different prodjects he and his wife Zofia Hansen has developed. He evolved and clarifyed the visual language through his didactic work, and through his engagement at the sculptural classes by the Art Akademy in Warszawa. He has advanced the subject visual structur and worked in order to make a dialog in between and to incorporate together the different subjects -space/ landscape/ and sculpture. Oskar Hansen had introduced the topic, visual structure and taught the subject Visual structur at BAS.

Line Frøyland, Bergen School of Architecture, 2005

Tuesday, February 15, 2005






Saturday, January 15, 2005






当前台湾社会刚刚松动了封建统治的模式,正走向民主化的学习历程,社会上呈现一片青涩的纷乱状态,然此乱局与新世代文化革命中的乱象比较起来,原本不是同一回事。在国内的论述场域内,"个人主义"尚为一个十分负面的名词,指涉一种不适应社会的乖张行为 带有封建议识残留的贬抑,也反应国人的民主概念里包含着要求"一致"的先见,认为少数个人的独特性会戕害平民的社会与城市环境,而强调平凡、平实,没有君王的均质化生活;政客或活跃份子往往一边鼓舞人民觉醒,却又一边打压特异分离的诉求,距离能够含摄歧异且深层提升民主境界的层次尚远。一些市场敏感度高的台湾建筑师善于投和此社会的习性,藉表现"不平凡"以博得众人与金主的注目,或者直接宣示"平凡",以求得道德取向正确下的多数认同,而攫获商机,以致无论"不平凡"或"平凡"的手段均为一种投机主义,无由提供社群具有创造力的方法来更新建筑与城市,也难以透过建筑创作见证新社会的未来梦想。