Erenlai - 按標籤顯示項目: water
週五, 01 十一月 2013 17:25

Taipei, Water City

 Leftover Nature by Pinti Zheng

 Text: Nick Coulson 

Connectedness to the chaos of nature, or lack of it, is inextricably linked to the modern human condition. The flow of water is a stream of consciousness running through the human psyche and a basis for spontaneous action. Yet, the modern city has tried to overcome nature, pushing it to its margins. However, nature is always rediscovering, reoccupying the human city. The flow of water is ceaseless, through, around, over and under, seamless in its passage through streams, springs, rivers, canals, lakes, reservoirs, a dancing brush swiping its calligraphy throughout the human city, leaving dynamic traces of natural and human history along its way. Like the creative flow, it can be diverted, guided, hidden, buried, yet it is always there flowing underneath and ready to emerge like a stream of consciousness.

Taipei, Water City, a new book by local author Shu Guo-zhi's, gives a historical topography of the transition of Taipei from water city to land city. It follows the alleys and lanes of the city on a journey back through time, re-exploring the canals, ditches and other stretches of water that used to cover much of the Taipei basin. Nowadays the twists and turns of Taipei's lanes and alleys mark the former routes of the canals and streams, which have been buried under tarmac and concrete. Signposts indicating former dykes, natural reservoirs and mounds are clues to tracing Taipei's forgotten heritage (The 'po' from Zhongpo for example indicated that there was once a natural reservoir there). The loss of water from the face of the city is a spatial manifestation of a city in transition, one that went from being a water-world, to a concrete industrial and commercial city.

The frolicking children and old men fishing have been removed from the river cityscape. When we see that most children in Taipei don't even know how to swim, we realize there is a general amnesia about the former water city. Taipei children may know the words to the idyllic children's song "In front of my home is a stream, behind are mountain slopes" (我家門前有小河,後面有山坡), but it is unlikely to mirror their own experience of Taipei. The Liugong Canal, gradually buried under the city in the 1970's, is perhaps the best example of this amnesia. Though there seems to have been a rupture between the generations who knew and who never knew the water city, there are still lucid memories left over amongst the older generations. For some people the name of the Liugong Canal strikes fear into their hearts as they remember it as the site of a dismembered body in a murder case, or the site where collectors of wild animals would dump their oversized crocodiles. While delivering a speech at an international Chinese literature conference, Cheng Tsun-Shing (陳傳興), an author with a background in psychoanalysis­ and head of the Flaneur publishing house, recounted, without further explanation and to the gasps of the audience, that when he walked along the Liugong Canal to school in the mornings, he would see people prodding fetuses with sticks to check if they were alive. At the time abortion was illegal. Sometimes he would smell bodies burning at night as he lived near the funeral parlour and would be left wondering if the stench was the fetuses. For others, the memory was slightly less extreme but encapsulated their fear of the filth and sewage of the hidden underworld. However, for many who lived in the age of the water city, it reminded them of their youth bathing and playing in the river, catching clams; of older men fishing, working men washing themselves at the end of the day and mothers washing the clothes in the river. It reminded them of a lost community space.

From these memories, we began shooting a short documentary, edited by Pinti Zheng, first exploring the recollections of various residents before looking at ways to reconnect this memory to contemporary Taipei, by bringing water back into the city.

 

 

Leftover architecture small
Leftover Architecture by Pinti Zheng


週二, 29 十月 2013 10:30

Shanshui Taipei, City of Water and Mountains

 

 Wormhole Diagram (by Pinti Zheng)

 

In Chinese, 有山有水 'have mountains and water' is synonymous with a good natural environment, and the imagery runs through Chinese aesthetics and language. From the two natural phenomena shan (mountains) and shui (water) as starting points, eRenlai brings you two features in November and December, exploring respectively, the relationship of Taipei's waterways, and its mountains to the city's inhabitants.

The natural environmental potential of Taipei is plentiful, it was founded in a basin, water was omnipresent, and the city is surrounded by rich mountains to the north, east and west. By these standards it should easily qualify for the Chinese proverb 'has mountains and water'. Yet the city now seems both intertwined and distant from its natural settings, at some point it seem to become 'poor mountains, filthy rivers' (窮山惡水) synonymous for poor ecological surroundings. In the pursuit of modernity, the city organism encroached ever further on the mountains, diminishing jungles and dotting Taipei's mountain cityscape with high-rises that seem so insecure, with the unpredictable bipolar rage of this regions winds and earthquakes. The rivers which brought settlers to this basin and made the city have been shut out by 10-metre high walls and the irrigation canals which fed the land were pushed underground. Expensive high rises of Taipei often name themselves after idyllic natural settings from ancient Chinese literature and provide breathtaking views overlooking mountains and rivers, yet seem to distance the residents from actually breathing the mountain humidity and the stench of the polluted rivers. Under the pressure of rapid population growth, there was a rupture of most city dwellers from the natural surroundings that previously fed them. Someone brought up in Taipei in the 70's returning to the city 30 years later to the site of family photo taken by a river, may find it replaced by a wider road. The distancing from the rivers also diminished community space and strong neighborly ties. Children used to play naked in their community section of the river, safely overlooked by fishing adults, perhaps collecting clams to sell in the markets, a seamless part of the nature-city montage. Now the Taipei residents in search of water are more likely to visit the crowded tourist destinations along the river - Xindian and Danshui - to stare at the river alone in a sea of strangers, or head to a public swimming pool to share in the sweat of a hundred bodies. With the sacrificing of much community space over the last 40 years, it seems that while idyllic natural settings and history from thousands of miles and years ago are remembered, there is amnesia for recent history, buried and forgotten underneath the concrete city along with the irrigation canal. Finally the distance from nature and community in the modern city has led to a reliance on the great conveniences of the metropolis, be that 7-11, food availability or the Internet, alienating us from our own physical work, and numbing the senses and instincts which allow us to act spontaneously and survive out of necessity.

The otherness of nature in its absence from city life, indirectly leads us to three other disenfranchisements: it alienates us from our own work, killing the DIY spirit and the ability to survive and provide for oneself by forcing reliance on pedantic bureaucracies and commercial networks; it further disconnects us from our human surroundings as community space and ties are weakened; finally the inhabitants are left in a state of amnesia as natural and human traces are constantly destroyed in the temporary city, people are alienated from their own history and memory.

These are the conditions under which we ask: in what type of city do we wish to live? Can we reduce urban and environmental alienation, bringing nature and community back into the city through actions and artistic happenings? In the spirit of ecological connectedness, spontaneous action and community participation, we explore and initiate micro-ecological and artistic actions aimed at liberating both ourselves and wider society, bringing agency back to the individual and the community. In acting from below, we attempt to restore our autonomy, paving the way for a more democratic, involved and connected society.

Despite the one-size-fits-all dominant urban model, where bigger is always better, Taipei is also rich in marginal communities surviving on the urban border, physical traces reminding us that there are diverse ways of existing in the modern city. In our attempt to excavate the memories of alternative living communities, in order to imagine alternative futures, a focal project of our nomadic arts and action space, The Hole, has been the spontaneous action to try and preserve the Toad Mountain[1] military dependents' community which we will be looking into in our December focus in time for the Hong Kong and Shenzhen Architecture Biennale and its focus of "Urban Border". Toad Mountain is also the spot that of this month's interviewees, Professor Kan of National Taiwan University, suggests as the water source to bring natural rainwater back into the Taipei City basin, and consequently turn NTU into a water campus to rival Cambridge University. This brings us to this month's focus on Taipei's waterways.

Taipei, Water City

"那時的台北,是水渠密佈,水田處處的台北。"

水城台北  舒國治

"Taipei, at that time, was a dense network of canals, with paddy fields at every turn"

Taipei, Water City, Shu Guozhi.

As local author Shu Guozhi reveals in his latest book, until recently Taipei had been a city of water. Symbolically, this November, the same month in which our feature is published, Taipei's latest metro line, the Xinyi line will have been opened to the public. While Taipei City celebrates this latest engineering feat, we have been re-exploring an irrigation channel of old, the Liugong Canal[2], the great engineering feat completed 250 years ago, which first sought out and brought a water source to irrigate the Taipei Basin[3] , turning Taipei into a city of water. For the last 40 years, however, the Liugong Canal and most of Taipei's water channels have been removed from the community, gradually covered with asphalt and concrete to make way for the residential and commercial space; buried underground, to make way for economic development.

Thus we begin our explorations of the water city. First, we present a brief cartographic history of the Liugong Canal. Then, we began to dig up Taipei residents' memories of the Liugong Canal, shooting a documentary film, Taipei, Water City, traversing through the time-travel wormhole to be reconnected to the memories which were buried along with the canal. The documentary teaser goes on to explore plans to bring the Liugong Canal back into the city and introduces the ideas and actions of our own nomadic arts space, The Hole, as it explores and re-appropriates the now underground network of canals.

Since the late 90's academics and community groups and even politicians began to explore the idea of reopening some sections of the Liugong Canal and bringing water back into the everyday life of the city. These plans have differing economic, environmental, cultural and social aims and standpoints. Water expert, Dr Chun-E Kan shows how we can return clean natural rainwater to the city, starting by 'sunlighting' (reopening) the section of the Liugong Canal which runs through the NTU campus. We then introduce another comprehensive proposal for a larger scale reopening of the Liugong Canal with a community aesthetic and interest in social innovation. Taipei's interdisciplinary architectural research hub, the Ruin Academy have advanced on European Architect of the Year 2013 Marco Casagrande's vision for Taipei River Urbanism with their proposal for Sustainable Synergies.

Meanwhile, rivers also have a fleeting creative value. Daphna Salpeter, long term sinophile and Taiwan Literature graduate student, explores the significance of water imagery in classical Chinese literature and poetry. And merely watching the flow of the rivers, can inspire a flâneur to a poetic gest; photographer-explorer Benoit Girardot, who sees poetry wherever he may roam, tells us what it inspires in him.

With this month's focus as a starting point, The Hole will continue to provide a public forum on bringing water back into the community. Asides from artistic actions, we will further explore the memory of the Liugong Canal as we develop a full length documentary. We are in discussions with a school and institutes, trying to make the Liugong Canal and Taipei rivers' as outdoor ecological classrooms. We look to extend the idea of ecological classrooms, perhaps by building an ecological raft, and taking ecological tours around the farm allotment island near in the middle of the Danshui River, helping Taipei's youth to better get to know their river, their nature and their agricultural heritage. We are also looking at ways of stimulating community participation in any future plans to bring the water back into the city, empowering the people to take part spontaneously in making Taipei's environment cleaner and more sustainable.

Text: Nicholas Coulson


[1] 瑠 公 Liu Gong (pinyin), Liu Kung, Leo Kong. Named after Kuo Hsi-liu (郭錫瑠), the 公 'gong' was posthumously affixed as a term of respect for accomplished older man. '圳' Usually pronounced "jun" but can be confused with the Taiwanese and often Taiwan Guoyu pronunciation of 'zun' and the most common Mainland China pronunciation of 'zhen' as in Shenzhen. The 'jun' can be translated into English as ditch, dyke, channel or canal. Based on a mix of common usage, definitional logic and the recent adoption of Pinyin in Taipei, I will standardize as the Liugong Canal, though it should be noted that it's primary function was as an irrigation waterway and not as a transportation canal. When referring to the individual I use Liu Gong with the space.
[2] 蟾蜍山 (chanchushan) Toad Mt or Toad Hill, a community tucked away on a mountainside near Gongguan, Taipei City. It is Taipei's last remaining mountainside Military Dependants' Village, these villages were constructed as temporary accomadation by soldiers who came over landless from the mainland following their defeat in the Chinese Civil war. There were several of these communities along the Liugong Canal originally.
[3] Referring to the space of land that lies between the Danshui, Xindian, Songshan and Jingmei rivers, and enclosed by mountains in the east.


週二, 30 六月 2009 19:32

One 'swimming pool' for Yangjuan village

You may complain that your internet access is too slow. In Taiwan, where I reside, 5785 kms of optical broadband networks will be completed by the end of the year. However, while we’ll enjoy easier and faster surfing of the global village, the small village of Yangjuan in Southwest China is in need of 3 kms of pipes for a water network to allow easier access to this critical, life-giving commodity.

Since the school’s inauguration in 2000, cleaner water has been increasingly at the disposal of villagers. The school well did provide water to 300 students all year long but recently it seems seriously in need of maintenance, as it runs regularly dry during winter. During the summer of 2004 the first communal well was dug in the lower part of the village. However, after a few months, it met the same fate as the well of the school. People learned from that failure, therefore some of them dig home wells during the dry season, aware also that underground water is healthier than water directly taken from the river. In 2005 and 2007, on the villagers initiative, we canalized water from two sources in the hills above their houses. These small scale distribution networks were a real relief for approximately 60 households. Once again this encountered the same problem: from October to May water scarcely runs from the faucets, when it runs at all! I visited the village again last May and now they’re asking for bigger scale water works that could meet the needs of all the villagers.

Every day 5000 children in the world die from water related diseases.
At the end of 2006, the United Nations Development Program was asking the international community “to ensure that every person has access to at least 20 liters of clean water each day to meet basic needs” as “a minimum requirement for respecting the right to water—and that is a minimum target for governments.”

When we put into perspective the Millennium Development Goals: “halve, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation” with the needs of Yangjuan and the possibilities to improve the situation there, we feel sad and compelled to take immediate action. “The urgency of achieving the Millennium Development Goal for water and sanitation cannot be overstated. Even if the targets are achieved, there will still be more than 800 million people without water and 1.8 billion people without sanitation in 2015”. This extract from “Human Development Report 2006 Beyond scarcity: Power poverty and the global water crisis” leaves a chilling picture for the future.

On a micro level, there is hope for this small village in the mountains of Sichuan Province, crippled with all sort of difficulties. Ten years ago, the villagers had no consciousness of the need for clean water. Following the failure of the communal well, the villagers became aware of the necessity of clean water and started experimenting inside their own compounds. It was the villagers themselves who came up with the idea of bringing water from the hills behind the village. It was then easy convince them that it was better to canalized water from the source, than to take water directly from the brook. That was not a big deal to complete the job. Since we were providing the pipes and materials needed to build the water tank everybody was motivated to work together. Now, following these trials, that are far from complete successes, villagers are dreaming of a bigger scale project that could satisfy all their water needs for good. The informal network of ’friends of Yangjuan’, created and put into action using the power of the Internet, is coming together to solve any new, bigger problems they may meet in order to succeed in this huge undertaking. Who will be the responsible leader able to coordinate the efforts on a local level? Where will they find supplementary funds? How can they ensure that water taken from the brook will be drinkable at the faucet? How to solve all these problems without increasing the financial burden of the villagers once installation is completed?

In the village of Yangjuan, people leave, sometimes far away, to find jobs. Those who stay behind are the eldest and the youngest. Being forced to fetch water daily is a heavy burden when added to farming and schooling.

Water is not only the problem of Yangjuan as shown by a 2006 report from the WWF: a combination of climate change, drought and loss of wetlands that store water, along with poorly thought out water infrastructure and resource mismanagement, is making this crisis truly global.

Even in Taiwan, where tap water penetration rate hits 90.7 percent, one mountainous county only manages 45 percent.
It is estimated that the network of one water distribution company in the UK, leaks enough water daily to fill more than 300 Olympic size swimming pools! By western standards, such an amount could supply water for 2 800 000 homes…while for Yangjuan, one swimming pool would be more than enough.


週四, 13 九月 2007 23:38

Water for All!

Yes, we were back at dear old Yangjuan village during the summer of 2007… That was the seventh year in a row that volunteers from Chengdu, Taiwan, France and the United States were gathering there. The months preceding the trip were somehow hectic due to the constant changes in the preparation of the projects. But finally, everything went very well…

Since the moment we have started to implement small scale hydraulic projects in Yangjuan we had been relying on volunteers from the French organization “Hydraulic without borders”. One of the volunteers managed the digging of a communal well (summer 2004) and the bringing down of water from a stream in the hills to 20 households in one part of the village (summer 2005), He was not available this summer. That is the reason why we started to look for an aborigine volunteer from Taiwan. And this proved to be the right move: Mr Yun has been indeed the very person to manage the work we did this summer 2007:capturing a spring in the mountains to bring water to 30 households in the “5th brigade” of the village.

For the hydraulic projects my concerns were many. It seemed to me that from the spring to the water tank above the village most of the pipe could not be buried in the ground. In theory, that would require better and more expensive material. We found out that the ideal material was not available in Xichang and, if available, that the installation would require electricity. Finally we had to rely only on the material available in the closest place to Yangjuan. The experience of Mr. Yun was such that he got immediately a good comprehension of the nature of the soil and after one morning of work the source was already captured. Work was not finished yet as the pipe (about 1500 m long) had to be buried in the ground or hanged along a cliff in the last stretch to the water tank. The building of the water tank took also another two to three days. The last days, when we were installing the pipes and the faucets in the village, invitation was made for all the “workers” with the killing and eating of a young pig and the coming of the water in the households was celebrated with abundance of beer! Mr. Yun could give precious advice to maintain the system, and, before we left, a “maintenance manager” was elected by the villagers.

The other project consisted in building two greenhouses for cultivation of vegetables. For the realization of the project we asked for help from the Agriculture technical University of Pingdong. The President was very helpful in introducing a professor who in turn introduced two students who were very fit for the job and very good in training the people to new ways of growing vegetables.

The so called “hydraulic project” comes from our very first stays in Yangjuan. Two nurses conducted a health survey and it appeared that the quality of the water could be greatly improved since all the water consumed comes from the river polluted by dejections from animals (pigs, sheep and horses). For sure, the people say that in their place there are no illness related to the quality of the water. Which to some extend is true compared with the situation in other places in Liangshan area. Still, hygiene had to be improved. The digging of a well in 2004 has been beneficial to the people. This summer again, I was told that people like very much to drink water from that well. This project has not been a perfect success, as during autumn and winter the well runs dry. But it was a good example anyway since afterwards at least two families dug a well in their courtyard. From this experience we know that July and August are not the ideal time for that activity: during that period the level of underground water is rather high and then keep lowering till March. A timid initiative by the people from the 3rd brigade the following year obliged us to change our minds (we were prepared to dig another well), and so we brought instead water from the mountains to their houses. Though the distribution network is very simple and made of cheap material it has been a very good surprise for me to see how well it has been maintained and somehow improved. What happened in 2005 was an encouragement, showing the willingness of the people to be more active in taking care of their living conditions.

It was not a surprise that at the end of my stay in 2005 villagers from the 5th brigade came to ask for the same thing for them. I went to see the spring that could be capture to meet their needs, but as the volunteer from “Hydraulic without borders” was already back to France I was not very sure of the feasibility of the project. Summer 2006 we had not “hydraulic project” (the French civil engineering professor was in Haiti) I went again to inspect the site of the water spring in the mountains. In March, taking occasion of a trip to Nanjing, I went again to Yangjuan mainly to test the willingness of the villagers to realize the project, knowing that it needed more manpower.

The implementation of our project this summer has been a success in the sense that the participation of the villagers was very good. The first meeting we had before starting the work was held in one of the offices of the school, the head of the village was there and my old friend the secretary of the Party was also present (he is one of the beneficiaries of the water adduction project in 2005). The fact that one of the villagers has been elected as maintenance officer is also a very good thing.

Is concern for the quality of water growing in Yangjuan? I received two requests in July, one coming for the people from the 5th brigade asking for a well, the other one from the principal of the school. During the winter period the bottom of the well that supplies water to the school is filled with a whitish muddy deposit. During this period the pipe bringing water to the tank above the school is placed in the river. I am not a specialist but I think that the well of the school just needs a serious maintenance during the dry season (i.e. in February or March).

It is difficult to give an evaluation on the other project, the construction of two greenhouses for cultivation of vegetables. It was not possible to find a common land. The owner of the plot of land where the two structures were built and where the first beds of greens were sown was getting along very well with one of the two Taiwanese students and hopefully will benefit from this improvement on his farm land. We can hope that the greenhouses will be a good example for other villagers.

Since 2000 we have been witnessing many changes in Yangjuan. A lot of people went outside to work in places like Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen and even abroad. There is no sign so far that the village will be abandoned in a few years. Making life easier for example with a better access to water may slow down the process or at least ease the burden of the “grand parents” left there to take care of the farm and the grandchildren.


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週二, 26 九月 2006 20:07

China's Water Challenge


CHINA’S WATER CRISIS

Rivers’ pollution, hazardous water management, devastating typhoons in the East, water shortage in the North and the West, erosion of arable land and desertification... China’s looming water crisis challenges its very model of development.
The debate goes even beyond: how far is China’s water problem related to world wide challenges? And what is to be done at the global level in order for China to let water bless again its soil and its people?

This flash animation presentation states the basic facts about China’s water challenges. While it is downloading, have a look at the main points it develops.

The per capita share of fresh water in China, which stands at 2,200 cubic meters, is only one-quarter of the world average. By 2030 when China’s population reaches 1.6 billion, per capita water resources will drop to 1760 cubic meters; close to 1700 cubic meters, the internationally recognized benchmark for water shortages:

- 42% of China’s population, or 538 million people, in the northern provinces (60% of its cultivated land) have access to only 14% of the country’s water. If northern China were counted as a separate country, its water availability—757 cubic meters per person—would be comparable to that of parts of North Africa: lower, for example, than the water resources of Morocco. In central Gansu, some areas get less than 300 millimeters of rain a year. (In order to address China’s northern water shortage, the government is spending almost 500 billion yuan on a three canals project to divert some 38-48 billion cubic meters of flow northward from the Yangzi River to the Yellow, Huaihe, and Haihe River systems)

- More than half of China’s 660 cities suffer from water shortages, affecting 160 million people. By 2010, it is expected that, of the 600 larger cities in the country, 550 will be subjected to water shortages.

- 90% of cities’ groundwater and 75% of rivers and lakes are polluted. Every year, about 25 billion tons of sewage and pollutants, 42 percent of all generated in China, is piped into the Yangtze River, making it one of the ten most endangered rivers in the world to face drying up, according to a report released by the World Wildlife Fund.

- China also lags behind in sanitation coverage, which was 48% in 2004 , the same as Nigeria and Papua New Guinea, but less than China’s neighbor, Vietnam, whose GDP per capita is only about half of China’s. In 2006, the percentage of treated urban sewage and safely handled urban household waste reached 56% and 54% respectively, 4 and 2.3 percentage points higher than the year before.

- The water problem is in no way limited to urban areas. According to the WHO, acid rain, polluted rivers and inadequate sewage treatment have left nearly half of China’s rural population without access to clean drinking water. (See also I-C)
- As a result of widespread water pollution, around 340 million people drink contaminated water every day, with an additional 350 million drinking poor quality water. Over 26 million people in China suffer from dental fluorosis due to elevated fluoride in their drinking water, and over 1 million cases of skeletal fluorosis are thought to be attributable to drinking-water.

- Between November 2005 and January 2006, three major accidents occurred, stopping water supply for millions of people and raising awareness of the challenges ahead.

- In 2006, it was estimated that nearly 80 per cent of China’s 7,555 more heavily polluting factories were located in rivers or lakes or in heavily populated areas.

- If presents trends are not reversed, experts forecast that by 2020 there will be 30 million environmental refugees in China due to water stress.

- “The struggle for water will lead to "a fight between rural interests, urban interests and industrial interests on who gets water in China.” (Yukon Huang, World Bank, January 2005)
 

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