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Taiwan Architecture

By: Ieuan Dolby | Jul 30 2003 | 808 words | 805 hits

Even after living in Kaohsiung, Taiwan for over a year I still get lost if I walk around on my own. Most times in a strange town or place it is easy to get to grips with the layout and to not get lost after the first week or so. In Kaohsiung all is different and although I recognize the major buildings and streets, as soon as I leave them I am totally and utterly adrift.

To look at the average Kaohsiung Street during the day one will see a haphazard selection of buildings ranging from the very new to the falling down. Tall glass structures of the office of today sit happily next to the two floor ramshackle family house. A pink colored apartment block lies comfortably between a gloomy and unfinished tower block and a six-story town house of a person of society. Many common features are shared between all of these buildings and these features bring together these odd structures into one. All buildings are festooned with neon signs, advertisements, flashing lights, barred windows and washing hanging out to dry.

No matter the age of a building, bars stretched across the minimal sized windows are a necessity on the first three floors and often all the way up, regardless of the height. Upon question I was told that the bars are to stop children falling out but this seems far fetched when considering the fact that the windows are small and usually high up and that the Taiwanese do have a great need for feelings of security. Bars across the windows give them security in their own home, as well as the massive steel shutters that are pulled down every night and the security guards that are employed in all apartment complexes. Bars are either for security or to hang the washing out to dry on!

Neon signs of immense proportions are everywhere from rooftops to shop fronts. A two floor house can extend another two floors upwards as the neon sign is fitted on the roof, flashing lights and moving arrows festoon every doorway and corner to attract the dazzled passerby to them and the goods that they offer.

At night and in the dark these neon signs and endless bright lights hide all the buildings from sight. Regardless of the height, the color, the newness or the state of the buildings in a street the occasional walker can not tell the street that they are walking along. All that can be seen is the road in front of them and a dazzling array of bright and eye catching signs flashing all sorts of messages across.

In the modern day and in line with the Taiwanese culture of ultra-cleanliness houses are designed with this in mind. Comfort and homeliness is out and remembering that the average family does not own an air-conditioning unit so are carpets and floor coverings, padded chairs and sofas and anything else that may mould in the humid conditions found in Taiwan. Understandably so, sofaÂÂs and carpets are suitable breeding grounds for ants, cockroaches and insects of an undesirable nature. Creatures that like furry and warm places in humid conditions to lay their eggs tend to go for these comfortable furnishings - so they are out.

A house is designed with ease of washing and insulation in mind. Insulation from the outside world by totally sealing the houses interior (rather than the exterior); by fully tiling the ground floor from bottom to top, including the walls and ceiling itself. The upper floors, probably from cost are only tiled on the floors, although all kitchens and bathrooms are tiled all over. With this tiling comes the ease of cleaning and with the absence of carpets washing is done easily and quickly using a mop. One could use one of those high powered Jet Washers for cleaning, seeing as how there are no carpets and sofaÂÂs but I suppose books would get very wet. Maybe a water proof cabinet would solve that one ÂKÂKÂKÂK.Hmmmm.

This matter of tiling is replicated on the exterior on the more expensive of buildings, inside being white tiled and the outside can be light brown, white or even pink. Tiles on the inside are well grouted to reduce access for any rodents, creatures or water ingress and in fact if one was to seal the door of the average kitchen it could be turned into a most perfect swimming pool ÂV should the beams take the weight!

Space is of the essence in Taiwan and none more so in places where people want to build houses. Gardens are out! Gardens are a waste of space and so anybody lucky enough to have a garden is either extremely rich or the architects made a mistake. Garages are very important and if no space is available outside invariably ........... OR THE REST AND MANY MORE ARTICLES VISIT


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    Taiwan Architecture

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