Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Configuring Taiwan’s Architectural Extensions

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posted on 2021-12-09, 00:51 authored by Yang, Robinson

Amongst Taipei’s contemporary urban skyline of skyscrapers sits a secondary layer of prolific informal structures latching onto the existing modernist infrastructures of Taiwan, most prominently multistorey residential buildings. These structures resolve the spatial issue of the urban environment on the surface level and communicate a certain expression of Taiwan’s way of life, but just as importantly, they serve as a critique of modernist standards and homogeneous space.  This phenomenon is the result of the absence of planning and declaration of martial law under the KMT’s rule of Taiwan from 1949-1987. During this time, all top-down plans were reduced to one objective—to take over from China and return to the mainland (Illegal Taipei). During this time the government was negligent about these unrestrained developments in the city. In a 2011 exhibition titled “Illegal Architecture” Taiwanese architect, Ying-Chun Hsieh expressed a distinct view of this period. He wrote:  Fortunately, while the government was concentrating itself on regaining the possession of mainland China and on promoting populism, which made it weak, people were given a chance to breathe. Their creativity was released, and fabulous urban life finally arose in Taipei… (Ching-Yueh)  In recent years, the government has had a change of agenda; the demolitions of illegal extensions are now enforced and with it what has come to symbolise a Taiwanese’s way of life informed by decades of creative informal expansions and certain freedoms. Although government regulations emerge from safety concerns, this thesis argues that there is a superior procedure to overcome these issues without altering the culture: to create an architecture that references but does not imitate the context, therefore creating a new architectural language that retains the spirit of context and history of the everyday in Taiwan.


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Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Master of Architecture (Professional)

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Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

Wellington School of Architecture


de Sylva, Shenuka