Puppet Show in Central Taipei

Scott and I had dinner at a all you can eat pizza and pasta place for 350NTD just a few blocks from our flat. The pizza wasn’t bad and possibly this may have somethng to do with the link between Italian and Chinese culinary arts. Marco Polo supposedly brought something resembling a pizza from China that some say impacted the development of pizza in Italy. But the pesto pasta dish…well maybe they’d be better off to leave that to the Italians. We met up with some friends and saw a Chinese Puppetshow in Central Taipei.

Later on foot, we went through the capital district and saw the Presidential Palace, Central and Armed Forces HQ. After that we saw some of the shops and peddlers in the central shopping district. It was quite a site to see a whole block of peddlers vanish almost into thin air as they apparently got advance notice of a policemen on motorbike patrolling the area. There was a young woman playing the drums to rock-n-roll music and also a woman who made outwork out of straws – a classic example of Chinese innovation and ingenuity. I bought one of her peices for $150NTD. Oh and I almost forgot the street entertainer with the pet squirrel who he trained to pose with onlookers.


Saturday’s trip to the Beach North of Danshuei

Over the weekend on Saturday Scott, Michelle, Cherry and I took a late day trip to a beach north of the historic port city of Danshuei which is located at the mouth of the Danshuei River.

The transport costs are pretty reasonable. Taking the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) from TaiPower Station only a few blocks from where we “live” (well…at least for another week) to the Taipei Main Station (actually Taipei has no real downtown, but rather several clusters of tall buildings…that’s a story for another post though) and then to Danshuei was $55NTD ($1.70USD – not bad when you consider that it is really a distant suburban link to outlying Taipei Metro area). The bus ride took longer and cost more ($90NTD – $2.77USD) than the MRT ride, even though it was pretty much about the same distance. That’s because almost all along the way was built up area on the main shoreline road and it made it more like an urban bus trip than a rural or trans-urban one.

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The idea of Community Development within An Arcology Movement

I found Shannon May’s work when I did a search a China and Sustainable Development (or something like that) She is really doing interesting work that relates to a lot of my thoughts and ideas.

In one post on her blog she asks: Who will live in the countryside?. Of course, what she is talking about is this really skewed and biased notion that all that matters in the world is urban.  Soleri, it does seem very echos this conventional notion of what it is to be civilized. Civilized people don’t live in the country, or at least truly embrace rural culture and lifestyles, we are subtly taught to believe as we become intellectuals. This arrogant assumption is deeply embedded in the psyche or some might psychosis of patriarchal civilization and its modern politically correct incarnation: modernity/modern civilization and technologically driven “development.” On this level, I can relate at least some what to those on the Right who question this assumption of the urban being superior to the rural. Yet I think they take the same us verse them thinking, but simply turn it on its head and make the rural look like a Utopian Christian society that has a monopoly on what it means to live the true and proper moral life.

So we are stuck in these flawed notions of what is developed and undeveloped and undeveloped, advanced and primitive, first, second, third and now forth worlds. So thus the flaw of the modernization process is exposed in the idea that we now must become sustainable. Therefore this is an opportunity for so called Emerging Societies/Economies to get smart and leapfrog over all this garbage thinking cloaked in sophisticated wording and word play that seems to be real job of many in the intellectual class. That is of course what Chomsky was referring to when he stated education and particularly the finest Ivy League educations were simply a system of imposed ignorance so as to prepare the smart people in the society for this very important role in maintaining the status quo. So it is one thing to say people are ignorant or primitive or undeveloped, but what if the people who say that are simply deluding themselves to say they are the educated ones.

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Subject: Attention all Arcosanti alumni: Be part of the recorded history of Arcosanti!

Help tell the story of this unique place! There is still time to write up your stories and memories to be included in a special “Builders of Arcosanti” quaderno. Brief submissions of a paragraph or so are welcome, as well as longer ones. All alumni, old and new, are encouraged to participate. The deadline has been extended to the end of September, as the quaderno will be put together in October.

Contact soleri90@arcosanti.org with submissions.

Yilan Beach

On Saturday Michelle Lee (who we first met at that cafe on the hill at Dongshui along with Kareem a animated filmmaker) took us to one in Yilan along with some of her friends. Yilan is a popular beach destination on the south east coast of Taiwan. Its the only major southern city between the cities of the north and mountains that dominate the center of the island. Despite the fact we were on a freeway most of the time, it took 2 hours despite and yet Yilan was only about 32 miles (65km) from Taipei. My theory is the island is so small that they can’t afford to have people going too fast on the freeways, because everything would go by too quickly.

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Rethinking what it means to Build and Promote Arcology

The Food is great here and I am cooking stuff too at my flat which is located in Central Taipei. The subway system is quite good, although the main Taoyan International does not have a direct rail link. You have to take a bus to the High Speed Transit or the Central MRT Rapid Transit station. However when I came in the ride on the bus provided a nice intro to the city with its many medium sized buildings. The view of Taipei is defined by Taipei 101 which goes far higher than the rest of the city-scape.

Interesting living in a society that has compact living, great design of products, very good mass transit, lively urban environment and friendly people.

I guess I am moving away from this large scale Arcology vision like Linear City (i dont see how this would create a lively city with its austere repepitive design that goes on forever in both directions) but I still see relevance to this idea of small er scale Arcology like at the scale planned for say “Critical Mass” at Arcosanti.

I don’t think that Arcology is not about remaking the city in one mans vision. However, because Soleri has designed many large scale Arcologies that is the implication put forward. City in the Image of Man his 1971 book which helped finance Arcosanti in the early days definitely created that idea that a city could be designed as one, unitary monolithic form. Soleri continues to design such urban spaces with the implication that Arcology = City. However, I challenge the idea that an entire city can be housed in one building on that we would even want to do that even if we could. Arcology and Arcosanti to me is about rethinking the city to make it more liveable with a more integrated neighborhood and community design process that might include large scale building within buildings situations in certain applications.

Coming here to Taipei and seeing the attractive urban spaces, I really see the value to the diversity of design that comes from the evolution of the city and the proliferation of people as an ecosystem of collaboration. Because the Chinese never completely lost this idea of living in harmony with the ecology, I think they are better positioned for the challenges ahead and it really shows in the design of their cities and products and the way they interact with each other.

This is not to say that I like everything about Taiwan as I had a conversation with a Chinese woman the other day who referred to the society as conservative and repressive because she says it limits free thought. Yet its nice for someone who has really been affected by the dismal characteristics of the American built environment to go somewhere space is valued, land is valued, people appeared to be valued within urban settings and culture is valued as well, rather than seeing all these things as deemed secondary to the imperative of the marketplace to maximize short term profit at all costs.

Alot of theory but the trip has been good and it reminds that I can always figure out how to live in someplace like this if I really want to – at least for a little while and see how it goes…