Open-Source Architecture

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Open-Source Architecture in Taiwan

I am sure I could find some earnest academics somewhere postulating about Architecture 2.0, or some such thing, but the fact is that it is happening here in Taiwan right before your eyes.

Unlike in the West (see top layer of the image), where we tend to build something, and leave it as-is until it falls down, or at least when a new supermarket comes to town, Taiwanese people tend to view their buildings as a mere starting point for their own augmentations and addenda. When you first arrive – or at least for the first few years – it’s easy to say that it is ugly and unplanned, and that clearly nobody cares about the big picture (see second layer of the photo). However, after some time looking and getting used to the pipes emerging out of every orifice, it does at least seem to make a little more sense. Why not, indeed, customise the building for its eventual use? Why not allow it to adapt over time? Is this not what we are talking about with Web 2.0, Democratic Design and Open-Source Architecture? (do forgive me if I am coining these trends, or at least give me a royalty cheque).

With a little more foresight, and accepting that this is going to happen no matter what the planners do, I reckon that there is a way to build these edifces with just a touch more grace and charm. Lord Rogers – do pop in, and I’ll discuss my ideas with you.


Lloyds Building in London (with the Erotic Gherkin behind) – sometimes Taiwanese buildings remind me of this building, a little.
Photographed by Adrian Pingstone in June 2005 and released to the public domain.

One Comment

  1. Posted 2009/03/02 at 08:26 | Permalink

    An interesting thought; leaving rebar poking from walls and roofs with the thought of eventual extensions. Pipes and cables slung around exteriors because you never know when they may move or may be joined to. Tin sheet awnings temporarily tacked on until they rust away.
    Open source architecture it certainly is.

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