Author : Mark Chien

University : Woodbury School of Architecture, San Diego

Status : BArch, 2015

Advisor : Marcel Sanchez-Prieto

Title : Recover | Strategic integration of aquatic and civil culture

This thesis aims to investigate the vacant ground in Taichung, Taiwan where former military housing once stood as an ideal site for interventions that trigger new forms of public life. The water culture endemic to the region allows the project to strategically intervene to preserve the culture through the integration of seasonal aquatic fluctuation with public space. With components that amplify historical, cultural, recreational and natural elements, the intervention generates a decentralized system of dispersed, yet connected, micro-parks. Interactions will extend, not just between people, but also to the parks themselves, connected by the transforming seasonal features and water level changes. Water retained for recreation will be filtered and distributed to the community of Rainbow Village, a preserved portion of the original military housing, where water shortage is a concern. This thesis will investigate how the micro-parks become a negotiation between social groups and contested territory.

Interview

S//A : What’s the most important aspect of this project that we should be aware of?
Mark Chien_ Since the coming of the 2,000,000 evacuated soldiers from China toward the end of Chinese Civil War in 1949, many places throughout Taiwan began building military housings to accommodate these mainland population. In time, these housing complexes became a pocket of concentration of mainland Chinese cultures and traditions within the greater Taiwanese society and there have been many social clashes between the two communities even to this day. In recent years, the government began demolishing these historical complexes due to their poor conditions. These historical housings stood for nearly 40 years and are now facing the fate of erasure, and the abundant history and diverse cultures along with it. The situation of this particular site, as many other demolished sites, is that the mainlander settlements invaded the Taiwanese society, developed, and it got to a point where it needs to be removed and renovated, so now we are in the position of having to redesign and re-structure these vacant landscapes that are at the size of super blocks; therefore, the polemic of the project is about social clashes in contested territory and how do I create new possibilities of integration within the landscape as a negotiation to restitch the gap between mainlander and native Taiwanese communities while amplifying the cultures and preserving the historical value of the site.

S//A : What other fields outside of architecture interest you?
MC_ I enjoy photography, typically landscape and cityscape. It has always been a good way for me to escape from the intensive studio work, and I feel a closer relationship with the urban fabric that I capture with the camera. It takes good observation to compose a stunning imaging, and during the process I am able to understand the development process that lead to the existing condition of the cities. Over time, I have developed the skill of finding the smallest clues for inspiration. Not only it is a hobby but it also trains me to become more aware of the context in which I am a part of in order to become a better designer in the field of Architecture.

S//A : Most important thing you learned in architecture school?
MC_ Every now and then, I find myself in the position of sitting back and observe my project while it is still developing and think it is the worst project I have ever done; mainly because of the obscurity of ideas. These obscure ideas, however, generally sparks great conversations with instructors and peers, and they often influenced others with their strangeness. I believe one must step outside the comfort zone and take risk sometimes, try things that has not been done before and share the ideas with the instructors and peers around you; only then will you and others mature in the ability to design.

S//A : Describe your dream project
MC_ My dream project would involve historical and cultural preservation, and I am very proud to have attempted that with my degree project. I believe people from different generation must be aware of the history and culture in order to become self aware of our identities and purpose in the society, enriching the cultivation of society using architectural gestures as narration to reflect the past that makes us significant as both individuals and as a collective whole.