My first contact with Taiwan was in year 2000, when Architect Chi Ti-nan was representing Taiwan in the Venice Biennale. I found his flyer on the ground and got curious about him. This year we had the 60 Minute Man boat with forest in the Arsenale harbour. We started a dialog with Chi and he invited me to Taipei to the Urban Flashes symposium, 2001. Before Taiwan I had been working in Japan for various projects, but Taipei was really the first Asian city for me where pollution was so much part of the cityscape. There was a layer of dust on top of benches and the river looked like dead. I could not understand, why the same people who used the city so cleverly and self-organized, could let the natural environment to become in such a bad shape. It felt like the city did not care or purely ignored where it is growing in and growing from. On the airplane back to Finland I wrote a letter to the Taipei City Government stating that they will die, with simple set of one-liners, why. I did not receive any letter back.
In 2002 professor Roan Ching-yueh was participating in the Urban Flashes in Lintz, Austria together with architect Hsieh Ying-chun. I had written a small manifesto called Real Reality and I guess Roan was the only one really reading it. It was rather eye-opening also to follow Hsieh’s presentation about his communicative action after the 228 earthquake with aboriginal people. Actually Roan moderated the talks, also mine. Soon after this I received a letter back from the Taipei City Government, where they started to invite me back to Taipei in order to start thinking on some outlines for urban ecological restoration, not to die I suppose.
I got back to Taipei due to Roan’s lobbying and ended up to work in Treasure Hill with Hsieh. We had 200 students and Hsieh’s teams of aboriginal workers. I was mostly impressed about the students and professors volunteering from the Tamkang University Department of Architecture. I got adopted by Missis Chen, the matriarch of Treasure Hill and she opened up some doors to the Local Knowledge of Taipei. It was fascinating. These doors seemed to be gateways to same organic knowledge as towards Professor Svein Hatloy, Bergen School of Architecture had walked me in, Open Form. Roan talked about Dao, Treasure Hill was an organic constructive mess and Missis Chen was dealing with the original ground. Biourbanism in Taipei seemed to be possible. These people were Open Form.
After returning to Finland I received an e-mail from Professor Chen Cheng-chen asking me to become a Visiting Professor in Tamkang University. For some reason I though this to be a joke and I woke up only after the third e-mail, that this might actually be real. In autumn 2004 I started in Tamkang, which was a blessing. I tried to drive to Taiwan from Finland with a KTM Paris-Dakar enduro motorcycle, but got stuck in the Chinese border on the Gobi desert and had to fly the rest of the journey. Tamkang was fully supportive for the development of the ideas of Urban Acupuncture and the Third Generation City and I also found the Ruins there, ending up living in the T-Factory ruin in Sanjhih.
It was in this ruin where I found the cocoon of the Phimenes Sp., made out of weak concrete. Same time Hsieh was experimenting weak concrete in Nantou. Roan said, that I should show the cocoon to Mr. Aaron Lee, head of the JUT developers and so I got introduced to him. Inspired by this Insect Architecture we realized the Bug Dome bamboo cocoon in Shenzhen Biennale with Roan and Hsieh. Aaron flew in with his brother to check out the work and after this he commissioned me to start working with him in Taipei. So begun the Ultra-Ruin, Cicada, Ruin Academy and Feng-Shui Snowman. Paracity also started with Aaron on his suggestion to think of the possibility of a fragment of the Third Generation City on a flooded island in the Xindian River.
These work and talks are not mainly between people. There is some more grounding force pushing through them, sweating through us. Some may refer to it as Dao or Open Form or even Local Knowledge, but I think that it is a bit more complex than what can be really named. It is kind of a will or requirement from the one mind of Nature, the same will that is resonating behind the singing of the birds. The will that is resonating behind the single moves of all the leaves in the jungle, resonating behind anything that is part of the life-providing system. Missis Chen was resonating this. Taipei is resonating this. Tuning up with this resonation is the key to the Third Generation City, to Biourbanism and to Open Form. Otherwise we are just pollution. Design is a secondary thing, resonating is the main thing. It is wrong to say, that as architects we are doing temporary things for the time being. When our things are resonating with nature, there is no time; architecture and the city becomes part of nature. Otherwise we are just pollution.