Vincent Chuang

1:00 PM - 3:00 PM

Riverside Gallery 

Thesis Title
Rethinking Typology in Taipei: Designing New Frameworks for Urban Living

The Taipei streethouse is a typology that has been formed through a continuous dialogue with the local urban fabric and society. Since the typology was first brought over by Qing dynasty settlers from Fujian Province in the late 1600s, it has served as the archetype for family living and social organization. For three successive waves of colonization, the city of Taipei has been continually reshaped and revised in a fluid and incremental manner, with each colonial authority imposing their visions of the future on the island by reauthoring the urban landscape. Through this dialectic relationship with history, the streethouse type serves as a symbolic index in time, revealing socio-political changes, technological advances and shifting preferences that can be read through its architectural elements and spatial composition. Local residents transform formal structures through interacting with their homes: adding, subtracting, self-fashioning and re-defining spatial boundaries. Depending on the immediate needs of the local residents, their homes can be adapted to enable economic opportunities or remodeled to satisfy their changing spatial requirements. Transformations that are applied throughout an urban context form patterns that reveal how type is localized in response to its socio-political environment. The streethouse type can be seen here as an instrument to understanding the development of the city, and a source of cultural understanding linked to the past. 

The modern streethouse, introduced between 1960-80, remains today as the dominant urban housing typology in Taipei. Despite its ubiquity in Taipei, these streethouses currently face obsolescence due to their poor physical conditions and lack of modern amenities. As a result, they are often considered undesirable housing options and their sites have become the primary targets for government-led urban renewal plans. Such redevelopment projects have begun demolishing entire city blocks, often with no consideration of the urban fabric or the communities that existed there before. The new architectural developments are globalized ‘products’ that can be recognized as multi-storey condominiums and gated communities. Their implementation has resulted in generic forms that are culturally detached from the sites upon which they are built. By directly engaging with Taipei’s unique historic context and the existing spatial practices dependent on the streethouse type, this thesis proposes a design approach that learns from the development of the streethouse type and the role of local users in transforming it. Through an understanding of how the streethouse has developed in a typological process with its users, a series of design proposals will be generated to speculate new forms of flexible housing that will that reinforce existing social and cultural dynamics.

Examining Committee Members

Committee Member
Internal Reader
External Examiner
Vivian Lee