Urban Life in Taipei

Paolo Soleri continues to have a lot of interest in Asia about his work. It started with the Japanese and their support of his Hyper Building project. Later Francis Frick conceived of the South China Arcology and finally there was Lean Linear City Exhibit in 2006. Recently the Chinese have expressed considerable interest in including Soleri’s work in an exhibit in China.

On Saturday did my first Unity Drum in Taiwan with Joy and her friends in Taipei. It was amazing. We drummed and danced and there was a crowd that gathered around us to listen to the African drumming. Sometimes they clapped after a song. Several little girls joined in dancing to the music and two older ones actually started drumming with us! The police also came as well to tell us to please keep it down – they were responding to a complaint, but we kept playing (apparently they can only ask us to keep the noise down up to a certain time). From my experiences so far…I feel the people in Taipei really know how to live life in the city.

Someone asked me “what do you think about the city of Taipei tonight?” I answered that I felt it was a special place to me in that I really felt like the people of Taipei use their city space well. The spaces were well lit and the overall layout of the city is very good. There were hoards of people out in the streets and particularly in the night markets where the food is good and cheap but not necessarily healthy.

Life in Taipei is such a contrast from the life of say the modern American city. The Taiwanese can’t afford to engage in ill-thought out and short-sighted development as they live on a small island with a very high population density (23 million people live on an Island about the size of New Jersey).

So I think it is no coincidence that the Asians are so interested in Arcology, the reality of the finiteness of space and resources is more obvious there. However I also think it is a design issue in that people in the East see the city as something that regardless of space is something that works best when compressed together and well organized within that compact framework. I can think of no better example of the Urban Effect then in seeing the night markets with the creativity of the people in selling their products and food and the general vibrancy of the place with all the people around interacting.

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