Managing change: tensions between urban morphology and everyday life in the heterotopic urban context of Tainan
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Urban conservation and development practices are often in conflict. This thesis examines this general claim in the context of rapid urban development in East Asia through an analysis of the postcolonial historic city of Tainan, in Southern Taiwan. Following a particular line of urban conservation scholarship (Ashworth, Larkham, Conzen) this thesis argues that urban conservation is best conceived as the management of urban change, and that change should be considered as part of urban conservation policy. The aim of such urban conservation practice would be not only to maintain the historic traditions of a place, but also to promote the development of new possibilities of place. In this sense, the treatment of historical urban fabric should aim to preserve memory and tradition as much as serving as an ‘incubator’ for new senses of place. To this end, the thesis seeks to combine morphological and everyday life approaches to urban scholarship. A sense of place is not only derived from the emotional feelings, orientation or identity attached to an existing environment, but also relies on the practices of everyday life. These practices are significant aspects of urban places, but they are often difficult to map, measure and analyse. Thus, the thesis argues, mapping the morphological changes of a city is not enough for a rounded study of the everyday life dimensions of urban space. As a result, this thesis proposes that empirical approaches to everyday life are as important as morphological studies when exploring issues of urban change. The thesis builds on a number of existing approaches to this wider issue of the interrelationship between urban morphology and everyday life. In particular, it examines the Versailles School’s approach to typomorphological study. This approach to urban analysis emphasizes morphological change and its grounding in existing typological rules of everyday space, so as to continue the everyday life culture that it supports. This thesis develops methodologies based on these principles. In addition, it draws on the concepts of time-geography and heterotopic spaces as a means of specifying the representational approaches to everyday life narratives and an understanding of postcolonial complex urbanism, respectively. Following this approach, this thesis presents a series of case studies on the historic city centre of Tainan, the ancient capital of Taiwan. As a result of its colonial past, the urban blocks in that city can be understood as heterotopias in the contemporary city. Drawing on the case studies, this thesis argues that the everyday life-style in Tainan city centre is inseparable from the existing block typology and the functional conditions that reside in the coexistence of the historical and the modern urban structures. Thus, when considering urban conservation policies, the relationship between this social spatial condition and the everyday life that it supports must be carefully considered.