Taichung Gateway StanAllen

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    NOTEr. Rem Koolhaas, "Project for a'Ville Nouvelle,"' Qyadems(October-December r989): 9 5.

    , , ,to change. lt needs to be aware of the very real environmental crises of our time,and to pay close attention to change and adaptation, recognizing allthe dynamicintricacies of the natural and social ecologies at work in the city. Form making hasa powerful agency and should be part of the toolbox, but form making alone can-not account for the complexity of the contemporary city. The city is an intenselocus of innovation whose collective creativity is always in advance of the disci-plines of architecture or urbanism that attempt to control it. We need to learnfrom the city itself, taking full advantage of the city as a laboratory for futureurbanisms. We need to cultivate new ways of working that can respond to unantic-ipated but inevitable climactic, social, technological, programmatic and economicchanges: an architecture and urbanism that parallels the evolving dynamic of thecontemporary city.

    PROJECT FOR THE REUSE OF TI{E FORMER TAICHUNG MUNICIPALAIRPORTSITEMore than twentyyears ago, Rem Koolhaas wrote:'A second type of innocence isrequired to believe at the end of the century that urban development and builtareas can be projected and reasonably controlled. The built, 'the full' is incontrol-lable-subject to the maelstrom of political, financial and cultural forces-in aperpetual transformation. Of the void the same is not true; maybe the void is thesubject where architectural certitudes are still convincing."r This polemical decla-ration has something of the status of a founding insight for our project, but itrequires some revision.

    The Taichung Municipal Airport was relocated in the late r99os, leaving amassive void in the city. While not exactly central, the six hundred-acre site sitswithin the ring road and is encircled by a built fabric characterized by diverse scalesand multiple uses. As such, it presents an unprecedented opportunityto design anew urban quarterfrom the ground up, large enough to acquire its own identityyetcontinuous with an existing city fabric. The project will act as a catalyst for furthergrowth as the surrounding fabric is transformed, creating greater density whilemaintdining its dynamic mixture of uses.

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    en over w a new pa ern. esp e s apparen ree om, was ev en rom ebeginning that the project could not be a typical "visionary" master plan. lt had tobe more strategic, anticipating the complex logistics of implementation without los-ing its fundamental identity as a project. Hence the appeal to the strategy of thevoid: the project is structured around a large figural open park that runs the lengthof the site from north to south.

    The project begins with thatwhich we can reasonably expectto control: pub-lic open space and roadways. Forthe project, the park is not an empty space; it isnot, strictly speaking, avoid. lt is full of both matter and activity. lt is a dynamicpatch landscape, colonized by plant life, traversed by roads and pathways, populat-ed with people and pavilions, and activated by periodic events and festivals.Special sites for cultural buildings and civic monuments are created within thepark. The "nothingness" ofthe park is not passive; it is an active, living landscapethat performs work, moving energy and matter around the site and helping torestore its natural and social ecologies. For architects, open space is too oftenthought ofas empty space; landscape architects, by contrast, are experts in thevoid. One of the lessons of landscape urbanism is that urban "nothingness" hasits own rules, its own potentials, and its own ordering systems.

    The figure of the park is visually distinct from the surrounding fabric, butfunctionally and organizationally knitted back into the site as a whole. An earlyscheme was based on movement systems, but the final form of the project isbased on water restoration, with a system of large surface tiles derived from catch-ment areas connected to the context through feeder canals. ln designing the parkwe have resisted the easy association of the "natural" with curvilinear, organicforms; the park declares itself to be wholly artificial, while functioning as a rich eco-logical resource for the city.

    lf the void can be designed and controlled with a reasonably high level ofspecificity, the surrounding urban fabric can be only loosely steered over time. lt isindeed "subfect to the maelstrom of political, financial and cultural forces," thatcharacterize any growing city today. The cily is a dynamic system possessing its ownmomentum, and the figural void of the park represents a limit that will be definedover time as the city grows up to that line, marking its edge as an absence. The parkalso serves as an attractor, enhancing real-estate value and triggering local develop-

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    eco ogy, an we - - ec ec c o ,and old. We have learned from the experiments of landscape urbanism and land-scape ecology, yet we can also make use of strategies that are (for some) uncomfort-ably close to New Urbanism. The roadways and civic platforms appeal to ideas ofinfrastructural urbanism, while the architectural strategy in the large buildings,though stylistically distinct, is not so far from Aldo Rossi's idea of the architecture ofthe city. The Taichung project is a highly specific response to a particular set of cir-cumstances, but by virtue of its scale and complexity, it can also serye as a test casefor a new toolbox of urban strategies for the twenty-first century.

    TAICHUNG GATEWAY PARK PROJECTStan Allen Architects received the mandate to transform Taichung's decommissionedmunicipal airport into the city's new culiural district. The z5o-hectare site is currently anurban void located at one of the main growth corridors of the city. What to do with such animmense opportunity for urbanisml Our proposal creates a single unifiing element thatincorporates as many program elements as possible: circulation, green sPace and naturalecologies, new cultural institutions, and research facilities, as well as major public attrac-tors such as the convention hall and the new dome. The new parkway infrastructure definesa zone of intense design investment while sirategically opening up edges of the site to exist-ing urban development pressures.

    The shape ofthe park is clear and becomes a recognizable icon that represents an opti-mistic future for the city ofTaichung. The design foregrounds active green space, createssites for new cultural institutions, and solves the major circulation issues. From a develop-ment perspective, the curving shape ofthe new Park creates four neighborhoods, each with adistinct identity: Canal District, Cultural District, Academic Corridor, and College Town.

    Taichung's recent urban growth has destroyed the connection to its traditional canalnetwork and natural water systems. A restored hydrological network offers an opportunityto rethink site ecologies and create new public space. The design and execution ofboth the

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    convention center, a multipurpose dome, three hotels, a shopping mall, and an intermodaltransport station, and will be connected and covered with Taiwan's largest inhabitable greenroof. At the southern edge ofthe 3oo-meter observation tower, visitors will have the chanceto experience a panoramic view ofthe park, the city, and the natural landscape beyond.Through this project and other development initiatives, the city of Taichung hopes to capi-talize on the emergent creative class in Taiwan and establish itself as a knowledge and cul-ture city in the region. In the city ofthe twenty-first century, ifcitizens and identities aremobile and fluid, the old Taichung airport site is large enough to supPort multiple civiclifestyles that forge a new identity for the city of Taichung. While a diversity of uses will acti-vate both the built spaces and the open space ofthe site, a rich mix ofprograms and popu-lations on site would help construct the twenty-first century city.

    TAICHUNG GATEWAY PARK PROJECTPROJECT: Taichung Cateway Park City; L0CATI0N: Taichung, Taiwan,R.O.C.; ARCHITECT: Stan Allen Architect, Princeton, N.J.-Stan Allen(principal in charge); Carlos Arnaiz (associate parlner and project design-er); Benjamin Cadena, Marc McQuade, Rosalyne Shieh, Frank Mahan.Ryan Neiheiser (project team); ENGINEERS: AruP-Trent Lethco. SusanLim (traffic); C0NSULTANTS: Arup-Trent Lethco, Susan Lim (planning);Scape-Kate Orff, Daniela Fernanda Serna Jimenez (landscape);Drangonpolis-Carol Wang, Christina Liao, Ritchie Huang. Jing'Yao Chang(local planning); David Tseng (architecture and urban design adviser tothe City ofTaichung); CLIENT: City ofTaichung; SIZE: 5zo acres;ESTIMATED DATE OF C0NSTRUCTI0N: zoog Night.view

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