Regional heritage and architecture : a critical regionalist approach to a new architecture for Taiwan
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The development of modern architecture, which was first introduced to Taiwan by the Japanese when they occupied the island, has destroyed the identity and continuity of traditional Taiwanese architecture. Modern architecture, with its emphasis on materialistic and technological aspects, is fundamentally different from traditional architecture. The former depends on denying what is essential to the latter. However, modern technology is genuinely international and most people in Taiwan seem to want to enjoy its advantages, such as new methods of building construction, which have offered a better technical solution to many problems than traditional architecture could. However, architecture is not merely a technological product, it is also an embodiment of the worldview of the people of a region. The most important question in the contemporary architectural development of Taiwan is, therefore, to see how modern innovations could be embedded in the regional heritage so as to achieve a new architecture within the parameters of modern referents while maintaining a quality relying on nourishment from regional traditions. The thesis is an inquiry into the prospect of developing such a new architecture for Taiwan, which, it is argued, can be achieved by a Critical Regionalist approach. Critical Regionalism is a concept as well as an approach that attempts to evoke a condition of authenticity in which a new architecture can be consciously originated out of the traditional architectural characteristics of a particular region in order to withstand the domination of Modernism. The contents of the thesis are centred on the following themes: differences between traditional and modern architecture; problems of the contemporary architectural development of Taiwan; the development of Post-Modernism, Alexander's Pattern Language, the Phenomenology of Architecture, and Regionalism in architecture; the dialectics of Critical Regionalism; characteristics of traditional Taiwanese architecture; and the discussion of the regional consciousness in contemporary Taiwanese architecture. Today, society in Taiwan is no longer completely traditional although a number of traditions still survive. People live in a society codified according to two different sets of values and beliefs. The problem of how to preserve the valuable aspects of the regional heritage, including regional architecture, in a situation where tradition is in rapid decline is crucial. It is demonstrated in the thesis that Critical Regionalism presents a possibility that an authentic architecture can be developed out of contradictory elements and sources. In the past, most criticisms of modern architectural development were based on either the purely functional aspects or the style of the building which are only parts of architecture. The Critical Regionalist approach enables both architects and critics to emancipate themselves from such narrow interpretations. With the help of this approach, both architects and critics can now look at architecture from a much broader point of view. The thesis aims to show the way towards this new understanding of architecture.