Erenlai - Displaying items by tag: architecture
Wednesday, 04 August 2010 17:27

A glimpse into Matsu’s island

Have you ever heard of Matsu?

Most of the people I have met in Taiwan or abroad who never been to Matsu refer to it as a military island or think of the famous Chinese Goddess of the Sea: “Mazu” (馬祖). Unfortunately not many people know about this beautiful and quiet island (actually, Matsu is an archipelago of 19 small islands, divided into four townships*), which belongs to Lienchiang County (連江縣) of the Republic of China (ROC). Matsu is situated in the Taiwan Strait, only 10 miles (16 km) away from China, close to Fujian province, but 120 miles (193 km) away from Taiwan. I was astonished to see at Nangan harbor how very close China is to Matsu, just 40 minutes by boat.

My first trip to Matsu was during the Chinese New Year and I will never forget it. Indeed, as you might say, I did not choose the right time to go to this island. The weather was bad and all the residents of Matsu were going back home to Matsu to spend New Year with their families. My flight was delayed and I had to wait until the next day before to take another plane.... However, there were no normal passenger planes and I had to take a military transport airplane. Everyone was in the baggage hold, sitting all together in two long rows, not so comfortable but quite worth it simply for the experience. Fortunately, the plane trip was short, only 45 minutes, and I did not have to jump by parachute for the landing. This reinforced my strong impression that Matsu is well served by its nickname of Military Island! However, I discovered during my stay on this island that Matsu is much more than just a military island.

Matsu was the furthest military outpost of Taiwan’s Chinese Nationalists when the Communists established their power in the mainland in 1949. Since 1992, when martial law on the island was lifted, the number of soldiers stationed on Matsu has significantly decreased, as has as the fishing industry, which has had an adverse effect on Matsu’s economy. Consequently, with the support of the Taiwanese government, Matsu decided to develop a cultural economy. For example, many military facilities and historic monuments can now be visited, such as the secret military tunnels. They were built during the 1950s to hold ships that could launch surprise attacks on the mainland. It is quite amazing that the existence of these tunnels was unknown even by the residents of Matsu until 1992. Capitalizing on the fame of its Goddess namesake, the tallest statue of Mazu in the world is in Nangan Township.

lise_darbas_matsu2In addition, I was quite impressed by Matsu’s unique stone houses, built in the style of Eastern Min architecture. Indeed, the native people of Matsu were originally immigrants from Eastern Fujian or Eastern Min, so they do not speak Taiwanese but the Fuzhou dialect (福州話, or閩北話). One of the most well-known traditional sites, the village of Qinbi in Beigan (dating from the Ming and Qing Dynasties), bears a strong resemblance to Mediterranean architecture. Most of these houses are nowadays not inhabited during winter vacations. They have been restored and converted into art galleries, coffee shops and bed and breakfast guesthouses to cater for tourists. Walking between these houses made me felt like if I was in a small ghost town. There was strong wind coming from the sea, and I noticed the peculiarity of the roof tiles of the stone houses, which were all weighed down with rocks to defend against the wind. Winter vacation is not the ideal time to fully enjoy Matsu, rather the best time to go to this island is from June to November. During this period the weather is much more favorable for hiking and enjoying a coffee on the terrace of stone houses next to the seaside.

Matsu is now trying its best to lure tourist and attract more interests. Before going to Matsu, I heard of Josh Wenger, an American doctoral student at National Taiwan University who won a competition to be mayor of Matsu for a day. In October 2009, inspired by the famous publicity of “The best job in the world” on Hamilton Island (part of Australia's Great Barrier Reef), Matsu had the brilliant idea to create an online quiz of 10 questions on Matsu’s geographical and historical facts to promote itself. The winner had the amazing opportunity to become the mayor of Matsu for one day, with an award of NT$10,000, and a stay of 3 days and 2 nights in free accommodation.

lise_darbas_Josh_Matsu_5I interviewed Josh who was deeply impressed by Matsu, which he describes as an interesting island with a rich cultural heritage and beautiful natural sites, friendly people and exceptionally tasty food, which was some of the best he has ever tasted in Taiwan. The food he enjoyed the most was fresh seafood, such as seafood noodles, the Buddha hands (炒佛手), and fried clams (炒花蛤). I also found Matsu’s food very delicious, for example, I enjoyed eating Matsu’s “Red rice yeast chicken” (紅糟雞) in the small cozy coffee shop “Lady Coffee” (夫人咖啡) next to the coast in Nangan Township.

Josh’s favorite places were in Beigan island, such as “Biyuan Park” (碧園, which means “green garden”) a small beautiful park with plaques containing the names of soldiers who lost their lives serving in the military; the mountain “Bishan” (北竿大沃山)is the highest peak of the Matsu islandwith an incredible view of Beigan island, and the “88 tunnel” (八八坑道), which originally took its name to commemorate Chiang Kai-shek’s 88th birthday. Since 1992, this tunnel is no longer a military facility, but is instead used by the people of Matsu to keep their best old rice liquor (老酒) in ceramic pots.

Following on from my short stay in Matsu, and after having interviewed Josh, I became even more interested by this small island. Although Matsu is not as well known as the main island of Taiwan, it is undoubtedly one of the most interesting historical and natural sites I have visited here. I believe that Matsu is an indispensable destination for understanding cross-Strait relations. Moreover, Matsu’s cultural assets such as the stone houses are some of the most important attractions of the island, and have given Matsu a charm and special atmosphere that seems to be from another time. What was once a frontier of the Cold War is now ideal tourist spot for a relaxing couple of days.

(Photos courtesy of J. Wenger and L. Darbas)


“Matsu National Scenic Area,”

“Matsu’s best-kept cultural heritage: Eastern Min architecture at Qinbi village,”

Watch Josh Wenger’s report about his experience being the mayor of Matsu:「 一日縣長」溫賈舒:馬祖的美麗景點,絕對要去看


*Nangan (南竿鄉), Beigan (北竿鄉), Juguang (莒光鄉), Dongyin (東引鄉)

Sunday, 01 December 2013 20:58

Tiger Mountain and the Miculture Foundation: Transforming Spaces


Overlooking the Xinyi district, home of Taipei 101 and Taipei's financial and commercial hub, are the Four Beasts Mountains (四獸山) : Elephant, Leopard, Lion and Tiger. The image of four wild animals-embodying raw nature- dominating the urban metropolis below is a powerful one. Elephant Mountain has largely been tamed-it is now a must-see on the Taipei tourist trail and also popular with photographers wanting to get the perfect night-time shot of Taipei 101- but Tiger mountain is more elusive.

Sunday, 01 December 2013 00:00

Liminal Realms at the Mountains and the Margins of Taipei


The Mountains and the Margins of Taipei


As the second of our two-part feature on nature and the city, Shanshui Taipei, we explore Taipei's mountains. The mountains represent the natural frontier of the city, the border between the natural jungle and the urban jungle, but also the border between a standardized modus operandi of urban living and the diverse community lifestyles on the periphery, detached as they are from the daily reliance on the mainstream structures of the urban core.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013 17:49

A Hand-Drawn Map of Taipei

Tom Rook was born in in Exmouth (England) in 1988. After he graduated from the geography department of the University of Nottingham, he moved to Taipei where he makes a living as an English teacher. He shares with us his passion for maps by introducing us the map of Taipei he meticulously drew for more than 100 hours.

Monday, 30 April 2012 11:04

A World Falling Apart

The Huaguang community (華光社區) is one of the last mainlander villages left in central Taipei. This old community retains the mood and traditions of old times. Its inhabitants, civil servants from the Ministry of Justice, mainlander families and others Taiwanese, have been living here for more than 50 years. By the end of 2012, this community will be demolished to give way to a financial centre called "Taipei Wall Street". Inhabitants are calling for justice and decent relocation solutions. Through this documentary, a collection of nocturnal colors photography, the presence of the inhabitants is suggested but not shown outright, their anger and frustration is just acknowledged but not emphasized. The wall and windows, the alleys and the vegetation, where you can feel the sweat of their existence, are all photographed by night to underlie the unreal mood that will follow the demolition. No digital retouchings have been made to the photos; all shot with a Kodak Ektar Chrome 100.


Thursday, 21 April 2011 02:00

Taipei Organic Acupuncture

Marco Casagrande is now principle at the Ruin Academy at the JUT Foundation's Urban Core Arts Block as well as professor at the Department of Architecture at Danjiang University, Taipei. After his group was given a studio on the block, his group built the Ruin Academy, and even produced a whole magazine on the groups theory, practice and projects - Anarchist Gardener - the rest of which can be viewed here. Their conception of space are wildly beyond the current mainstream practice bent on urban development, beautification and modernization at all costs. Here, Marco lays out some of his main ideas in Taipei.

Acupuncture is the procedure of inserting and manipulating needles into various points on the body to relieve pain or for therapeutic purposes.

Urban planning integrates land use planning and transportation planning to improve the built, economic and social environments of communities.

Urban design concerns the arrangement, appearance and functionality of towns and cities, and in particular the shaping and uses of urban public space.

Environmental art is art dealing with ecological issues and possibly in political, historical or social context.

Sociology is a science of human social activity.

Anarchy is acting without waiting for instructions or official permission. The root of anarchism is the single impulse to do it yourself: everything else follows from this.

The community gardens and urban farms of Taipei are astonishing. They pop up like mushrooms on the degenerated, neglected or sleeping areas of the city, which could be referred to as urban composts.

These areas are operating outside the official urban control or the economic standard mechanisms. They are voids in the urban structure that suck in ad-hoc community actions and present a platform for anarchy through gardening.

For the vitality of Taipei, the networks of the anarchist gardens seem to provide a positive social disorder; positive terrorism. They are tuning the industrial city towards the organic, towards accident and in this sense they are ruining the modern urbanism. They are punctual organic revolutions and the seeds of the Third Generation City, the organic ruin of the industrial city.

Corners are windy

Claude Lévi-Strauss believes in the beauty of the human nature as part of nature. Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno lost all the hope for the industrial development and said it has failed the promise of the Enlightment - it had corrupted humanity. Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalke (Mosfilm, 1979) is taking sophisticated people into the Zone, where their deepest wishes may come true. The Zone which is the organic ruin mirroring the surrounding mechanical reality. For the Strugatsky brothers (Arkady & Boris) the Zone was a Roadside Picnic (1972, Moscow).


Missis Lee in the Gongguan community garden, an illegal garden farmed by National Taiwan University professors and staff.

The community gardens of Taipei are Roadside Picnic. Grandmothers can take us there, like Stalker. The honorable Lévi-Strauss could be happy to start new ethnographical research between the parallel realities of the cultures of the urban compost gardens and the surrounding city – the reversed modernization and focusing in Local Knowledge. Horkheimer’s & Adorno’s graves should be moved in one of these urban acupuncture spots of Taipei. Here even they would find hope, surrounded by the valueless modernity and hard industrialism. Prof. Jaakko Hämeen-Anttila has said: “The valueless void of the society of today will be filled with ethics: the corners are windy.” With the recognition of the urban farms and community gardens Taipei has found its corners.

What is the ethics then pushing through these corners into the city? It could be called Local Knowledge, site-specific reactions building a bridge between the modern man and nature. The gardens of Taipei, these acupuncture points, are penetrating through the industrial surface of the city and reaching the original ground. The self organized community gardens are the urban acupuncture needles of Taipei. Local Knowledge is in connection with the first generation city, when the built human environment was dependent on nature and regulated by nature. Now the anarchist gardeners are regulating the industrial city.

Dominate the no-man’s land

The community gardens are taking over abandoned construction sites and ruined housing areas, empty city-blocks waiting for development, flood banks of the rivers and even grave-yards out of fashion. In many cases the gardens are flourishing on spots of land where the land-owner issues are unsettle or complicated. Sometimes the garden will stay in the spot for only a couple of years, as in the cases of soon to be developed areas and sometimes the urban farming has decades long traditions as with the river flood plains or on the island in-between Zhongxiao and Zhongshing bridges. The smaller urban farms are flexible and eager to overtake the empty spots of the city, eager to dominate the no-man’s land.


Treasure Hill in 2003 (Photo: Stephen Wilde)

One of the more famous urban farming communities of Taipei was the Treasure Hill settlement, originally an illegal community of KMT veterans. During its legitimating process Treasure Hill became so famous that eventually the original community was kicked away by the city government and the houses were taken over by artists and art related organizations. All the farms were destroyed on the process. Sounds like urban warfare against urban acupuncture. Treasure Hill was powerful and self-sustained when it was illegal. The community built its own houses and its own farms and it made its own rules. The official city wanted to eliminate this unofficial organic rival. NGOs found the issue sexy and stepped in to protect and legitimize the settlement. In the end the NGOs and artists took over the now-famous community and hooked up with the city government. The original urban farmers didn’t fit the picture anymore and had to leave. Now you can listen gansta-rap in a yellow plastic tent where the gardens used to be. Local knowledge died.

But Treasure Hill is not alone. Urban farming happens through different social classes and through out the city. The socially disordered citizens are ready to occupy land and start the community farms over and over again. Some acupuncture spots get hot and benefit the surrounding urban tissue while others fade away. The industrial surface of the city keeps constantly being broken up and herbs and vegetables are planted into the cracks. People are ruining the industrial city. Ruin is when man-made has become part of nature.

Urban Editors

Compared to Western cities Taipei plays in quite different rules. The aesthetics of the city is dominated by the functionality of a big collective machine and the urban mechanism is constantly being edited and rendered as with changing the micro-chips or other parts of a super-computer into more powerful ones. The urban data is people and this is what the machine needs to process. Mostly it goes smoothly, but also people get viruses – they get together to spontaneous demonstrations, they do tai-chi in improvised city-corners, they launch ad-hoc night markets or under-bridge sales on temporarily occupied streets or city corners. And they do farms – they are squeezing organic material into the machine like a creeper crawling into an air-conditioning box. Why they do this? Why does the nature want to break the machine?

Developers are the true urban editors. They are linked with the city authorities and necessary political powers and they make the urban editing. Architects are in a secondary role – something like the hyenas after the lions have made the kill. Money is a good consultant and the generating force of the developer run urban editing process. This is not urban acupuncture though; it is more like a western style medical practice – operations on the body removing, changing or maintaining parts – or even plastic surgery. (Oh, Shanghai has bigger tits than Taipei.) The body is not necessarily seen as one big organism.

In this rough editing process the anarchist gardeners seem to act as micro-editors, parasites benefiting of the slow circles of the big-scale development. They occupy the not so sexy areas of the city and they jump in the more sleepy parts of the development cycle. For example – the developer buys a whole city block with originally many land-owners. The process is slow because he has to negotiate with all of them. While the process is dragging behind the urban farmers step in and start farming the area. The developer doesn’t want to cause any more fuss and let it happen. It takes 3-5 years before the developer has got all the area to his possession and those same years the site acts as the community garden. When the actual construction starts the gardeners have already occupied a next vacant spot in the city.

Third Generation City

First generation city was the human settlement in straight connection with nature and dependent on nature. The fertile and rich Taipei basing provided a fruitful environment for such a settlement. The rivers were full of fish and good for transportation and the mountains protected the farmed plains from the straightest hits of the frequent typhoons.

The second generation city is the industrial city. Industrialism claimed the citizen’s independence from nature – a mechanical environment could provide human everything needed. Nature was seen as something un-necessary or as something hostile – it was walled away from the mechanical reality.

Third Generation City is the organic ruin of the industrial city. The community gardens of Taipei are fragments of the third generation urbanism when they exist together with the industrial surroundings. Local Knowledge is present in the city and this is where Ruin Academy focuses its research. Among the urban gardeners are the local knowledge professors of Taipei. Third Generation City is true when the city recognizes its local knowledge and allows itself to be part of nature.


The 101 Community Garden besides the Taipei Word Trade Center. Photo: Isis Kang.

Photos courtesy of M. Casagrande

For more information on the Ruin Academy and their projects in Taiwan, you can read the full content of the magazine Anarchist Gardener here


Friday, 29 April 2011 00:59

Beyond the Pale: Architecture in Taiwan

Visitors to Taiwan are often left wondering: why is the architecture so ugly? With its unbridled commitment to urban renewal, architecture in Taiwan does not respect the contemporary urban aesthetics of most 'advanced' cities.

Friday, 16 September 2011 11:56

Taiwan: form for function

An interview with Rodrigo Alejandro Aguilar from El Salvador

“My expectations were pretty much about structures and temples, and modern buildings. I was just pretty excited to know the lifestyle of the people over here…how they live and how they relate the way of their living with their buildings,” Rodrigo Alejandro Aguilar says in his lilting Salvadoran accent.

The main objective of the International Youth Week: Centennial Homestay event, was to create exposure for a country flourishing 100 years after independence. However, the international participants, like Rodrigo Alejandro Aguilar, have been selected according to excellence in their given fields - not only creating ambassadors for Taiwan, but also establishing a network of influential youths, who may later come to shape the country's role in the international community.

Thanks to the Say Taiwan project, this Salvadoran civil engineering student, Rodrigo Alejandro Aguilar, is in Asia for the first time, marveling at the vertical virtuosity of Taiwan's structures. Mesmerized by both the high skyline and the skillful use of space, he responds to Taiwan in terms of form and function.

“I find the architecture over here very attractive, and also efficient. Taiwanese people use very efficiently the space that they have, because there is a very high population here in this country, although it’s a very small island. So, they know how to handle that. They know how to use the space that they have so that they can fit everything… it’s very organized, it’s not that chaotic over here…compared to the big cities I have been to, for example, New York, Los Angeles, London… even those in my country.”

Alejandro, however, stays in the countryside - with his host family in Meinong village. He describes the meticulously precise rows of planted crops as something he has only ever seen before in Farmville - a popular Facebook-based, virtual farming game.

"The thing that most surprised me about the city,where I'm staying, is the protected areas that they have. Also, the yellow butterfly village and the Buddhist temple that they have over there - that was the most amazing thing that I have ever seen. The bulding, it’s so old but it’s well constructed, well-organized in matters of space… It kinda resembles decoration that we have over in my country. Colonial churches that we have, their decoration is pretty similar - the usage of gold and colors… it’s very attractive also,” he elaborates.

“What I've noticed is that they pretty much have their own buildings just for living - just what you really need, nothing luxurious. For example the house that I'm staying (in), it’s divided by two. So, on one side is my host family, and (on) the other side is the sister of my host family. They have a specific space of land that they can use. They use the space that they have for the things that they do, because they are all farmers. I think they are pretty organized... in the backyard, they have a few crops. Then, on the other side they have a few animals that they raise, and then they have the space where they live."

“The houses - they’re more like a drawer construction. It’s kinda smart to build the way up, instead of the way here", Rodrigo Alejandro Aguilar concludes, gesticulating with his arms wide open.

"It’s pretty basic but beautiful as the same time.”

Video filmed by C. Phiv and H. Haller, edited by C. Phiv
Photo courtesy of R. A. Aguilar


Want to know more about Rodrigo's saty in Taiwan? Read his blog on Homestay website

Published in
Focus: SayTaiwan

Thursday, 30 June 2011 16:37

A Flâneur's peek at Shanghai

The term flâneur comes from the french verb flâner, which ever since Baudelaire appropriated the word and gave it the extended meaning as a way of truly experiencing, appreciating the city as one walks. Indeed when we have a bit of time to explore the world we are all flâneurs, and not least of all the eRenlai team are certainly flâneurs without frontiers. But rather than Baudelairean strolls through Paris, the old eRenlai team and their sister organization AZ Cultural Enterprise spent much time over the last two years going back and forth to Shanghai. Their adventures, however, were more than just aimless strolls latching on to pretty thoughts; the team came back to Taipei having completed not one but three outstanding documentaries on Shanghai which are excusively offered to you in this Focus - A Flâneur's peek at Shanghai.

Liang Zhun first takes us on a stroll down Lane 1025, Nicolas Priniotakis looks for the rarest pearls of Chinese ethnic music and instruments in Seaside Seranade and Benoit manages to get a way from the hustle and bustle of central Shanghai and finds the ultimate spot for peaceful contemplation in Suzhou’s gardens.

Ida also feels the nostalgia of a 21st Century flâneuse, in a state of liminality between her years of studying and appreciating the language, arts and glory of France and the French, and a return to the lost Mainlander heritage in Shanghai, where paradoxically, the glory of the France is reduced to magnificent leftover architecture in the French concession. She was moved, but confused in the melting pot of people and architectures that is contemporary Shanghai. Similarly, Mei Fang-tsai had many identity questions to face during her time living in Shanghai as a so called "Tai-ba-zi".  Even Paul was left with identity questions during the 2010 World Expo-lent Australian adventure as he observed his country's pavillion as a semi outsider, looking at people, looking at Australia, the way Australia wanted them to look...

Photo by Ida Yang

Tuesday, 17 May 2011 00:00

Hourglass Configurations

In response to the Focus 'Beyond the Pale: Architecture in Taiwan' Pierre Maranda would like to introduce readers to what world-famous anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss wrote on the subject of religious and cosmic interpretation of traditional Chinese architecture. With this aim Pierre gives you a quote of the first two pages of the chapter Lévi-Strauss wrote for a book he edited. The book is availible under hardcover and also as an e-book from the University of Toronto Press in Canada: P. Maranda (ed.) The Double Twist: From Ethnography to Morphodynamics. Toronto-Buffalo-London. 2001, 316 p.

It was in 1977, in Japan, facing the Ise Shrine, that the reflections I am sharing here took shape in a somewhat disorderly fashion. I was struck, as would be most people, by the roof frames of which the principal rafters cross in an X and jut out past the ridge. The Izumo Shrines, also of archaic style, have a similar appearance, but due to crossbeams which are not part of the structure but are affixed to the roof as a decoration.

This is reminiscent, of course, of islands in the South Seas where the roofs of certain houses resemble those of Ise: a further indication of the links which existed between Japan and that area of the world, already manifest when one compares their myths[i]. However, to apprehend what this kind of structure could signify to the Japanese themselves, we must let their ancient texts speak. According to the Kojiki, a ritual formula accompanied the construction of a palace or a shrine: "Root the posts of your palace firmly in the bed-rock below and raise high the crossbeams unto [the upper world][ii]." In this manner, the shape of the roof frame, which one might say recalls that of an hourglass, reproduces the form of the universe. The part below the roof ridge corresponds to the earthly world, the part above it, to the heavenly world which rises up to the "plain of the highest heaven" inhabited by the gods.

This representation of the cosmos comes to us, by way of China, from India. It may have originated in Mesopotamia, but this will not be my concern; rather, I will consider its extension in the opposite direction. Paul Mus has often evoked, in its Indian form, the axial Mountain which carries the lower stories of the divine worlds, while more immaterial worlds float above its peak.[iii] "The first feature to be considered" of this axial Mountain, center of the world, Meru or Sumeru in Sanskrit, writes Rolph Stein, "is the mountain's shape. [...] it is a pointed cone emerging from the sea and carrying on its summit another, inverted cone that represents the abode of the [...] Gods. [...] The whole thing resembles an hourglass. Wide above and below, it is narrow in the middle.[iv]"

A feature of religious architecture thus refers to a cosmology. These hourglass forms, in their application to architecture or to movable objects imbued with symbolic meaning, are also found in the New World that Orientalists have left out of their investigations.

Before coming to America it is appropriate to make a stop in eastern Siberia, en route to Bering Strait. In his investigation of the relationship between architecture and religious thought, Stein has mentioned the Koryak who reside in wooden houses, roughly hexagonal in shape, with roofs in the form of a funnel or an inverted umbrella. [FIG. 3] Like other commentators, he has reiterated Jochelson's utilitarian explanation in which this unusual structure functions to protect the entrance hole in the roof from snow, or to break the force of the wind during a blizzard so as to prevent snow from covering the house[v]. Stein remarks in a note, however, that this inverted umbrella-shaped roof evokes the form of K'un-Lun (Chinese name for the cosmic mountain) and that of Mount Sumeru[vi].



Whatever the practical utility of such an appendice, one must not exclude that it may also be imbued with symbolic meaning. This appears even more credible since other parts of the house or furnishings, such as a notched central post used as a ladder, the hearth, a fire-drill, etc. all have symbolic value and because, for the entire region of the Far East, the house and each of its parts have symbolic significance, as Stein has admirably shown.

Hourglass Configurations by Claude Lévi-Strauss. Translation from the French original by Robbyn Seller, Anthropology, McGill University, Montréal, Canada.


[i]. C. Lévi-Strauss, "La place de la culture japonaise dans le monde", Revue d'esthétique, 18, 1990, p. 12-14.

[ii]. Kojiki. Translated with an Introduction and Notes by Donald L. Philippi, University of Tokyo Press, 1968, ch. 24 (14), 27(3), 39 (18); see also Nihongi. Translated by W.G. Aston (Transactions and Proceedings of the Japan Society, London), 2 vols. 1896, Vol. I, p. 132-133.

[iii]. P. Mus, La Lumière sur les six voies (Travaux et Mémoires de l'Institut d'Ethnologie, T.XXXV), Paris, 1939, pp. 42, 54, 172-174, 284 sq.

[iv]. R.A. Stein, Le Monde en petit, Paris, Flammarion, 1987, p. 232. (English translation, Phyllis Brooks, The World in Miniature, Stanford, Stanford University Press, 1990, p. 246.)

[v]. R.A. Stein, l.c., p. 163 sq. (English translation, p. 169); W.W. Fitzhugh and A. Crowell, Crossroads of Continents. Culture of Siberia and Alaska, Washington D.C., Smithsonian Institution Press, 1988, pp. 33, 200, 201.

[vi]. R.A. Stein, l.c., p. 318 n. 93. (English translation, p. 323, n. 60).


Thursday, 28 April 2011 15:18

From Derelict Granary to Cultural Treasure Trove: The decline and revival of Yilan County's Erjie Granary

Amidst the tide of modernization how does a granary that has stored countless quantities of rice become a derelict building, and then from this dereliction rise again to new life?

Can older buildings that are invested with many of the community's residents' memories bring about a new cultural vitality in a locality?

Thursday, 21 April 2011 16:09

The Cultural Inheritance Behind Illegal Architecture

Amongst the participants of the opening of the Illegal Architecture exhibition held in Ximen in March of this year, was mainland Chinese architect and artist Wang Shu. Perhaps aptly, given the topic of the exhibition, there was a construction crew digging up the road right beside the exhibition's marquee. Despite the repressive authoritarian thrum of council diggers and drills, Wang Shu took time out from competing with the noise to answer a few questions from the eRenlai team about illegal architecture and its role as a voice of civil society in Taipei:

Alternative (for readers in China)

Interview by Ida Wang, Nicholas Coulson and Conor Stuart, Video Editing and Subtitles by Conor Stuart.

Wang Shu's installation on the roof of the exhibition centre, The award winning "The Decay of A Dome"


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