A Letter on Atelier 3

by on 週二, 26 八月 2008 5956 點擊 評論
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Dear Cerise,

You asked me about my short apprenticeship in Atelier 3 of Architect Hsieh Ying-jun (謝英俊). What can I say to you as I have only gotten to practice the labor part in architecture which has little to express in language?

As a part-time Chinese language teacher, I should have nothing to do with architecture, yet I have an interest of building houses through my various reading. As a philosopher doing logical research, Wittgenstein had designed and built a house for his sister in Vienna, so why can’t a linguistic student become an apprentice in an architecture company? So I searched on the internet and got in touch with Atelier 3 of Mr. Hsieh.

Mr. Hsieh has great ideas about sustainable architecture. The most famous example was the reconstruction of Thao community after the 921 earthquake. In the Thao’s case they used low processed, low cost natural materials, and Hsieh has adopted simplified construction methods, so that non-professional workers can engage in reconstruction work. Through the process of building a house together, the identity of a community becomes much more concentrated. Thus Hsieh’s architecture can attain a balance not only between the ecological and economical aspects but also the social and cultural aspects.

Though viewed from a more empirical scale, the Thao community is still in the context of modern state political governing and also dominated by capitalistic economy as anywhere else in Taiwan or in the whole modern world we live in. The fact now is that after a few years cheering for the successful reconstruction, few designers remain living in the Atelier in Nantou due to different construction projects scattered all around Taiwan. The Atelier, as an open architecture, is flexibly designed to be adjusted by the owners who live in it. When an open architecture has few people living in it, it can be quite lonesome. In fact the people who really live and work in it are the construction workers. I was kindly treated by A-guei, who is the manager of the construction work group, also a Thao person, and who is very likely to be elected as the headman of Thao’s ethnic group committee. A-guei and his work group are an essential part in the Dawen(1) construction company led by Hsieh’s elder brother. They conduct the greater part of real construction work of most houses built by Hsieh’s Atelier. They have just established a cooperative this year (2008), so that they may receive other building cases on their own in the future, though it doesn’t seem so easy to run a business on their own at the beginning.

In reality, to what extent can we say that architecture helps to maintain the social connection, or shape the social relation, or to what extent the community can preserve their tradition, or to what extent they can be a self-sufficient unit, remains a question to be argued. We need more people to be aware of the fact of how hard the aborigine culture is striving to maintain itself in this global modernization context. The question is huge. Yet the solution is so simple that you can do it in your daily life, just by adjusting a little in attitude. You may shed some concern to aborigine groups by attending their annual festivals, not in a touristic way, but by trying to make friends with the local people.

The two construction projects I participated in were two private houses located in Fulong, Taipei County and Yuchi, Nantou County. These two houses, though not as big as in the Thao community, still maintain the same manufacturing methods practiced by Hsieh with the simple light-steel structure, and wooden façade. The one in Nantou even has a solar-electricity board, providing household hot water on sunny days, and also there’s an ecological pool that can purify the waste water before it goes into the mountain stream.

Enjoy reading and live a cheerful life.



(1)‘Dawen’ means ‘home’ in Thao language.

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最後修改於 週三, 08 一月 2014 17:33
Shufan Yang (楊舒帆)

BA of Anthropology, NTU
Graduated from the institute of linguistics in Fu Jen University
Part-time Chinese language teacher at Chinese Language Department of NTU
Ex-Guitarist of an electro-punk-girl band Go Chic 

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