Friday, June 28, 2013

Pavilion in a Million

Jennifer Rees. TIMBER iQ, August 2012 p. 26 - 30

Timber iQ's editor talks to Marco Casagrande about his latest addition to the Taipei cityscape and how, through design and material choices, the structure engages with the city and its people

Casagrande was born in 1971 in Turku, Finland, and completed his studies at the Helsinki University of Technology Department of Architecture in 2001. From early on, Casagrande began mixing architecture with various other artistic disciplines, as well as science, which has resulted in his famous eco-conscious installations across the world.

Casagrande’s work and teachings move freely between architecture, urban and environmental design and science, environmental art and circus, culminating in a hybrid of architectural thinking called “commedia dell’architettura,” a broad vision of built human environment tied into social drama and environmental awareness. 

In a highly industrialised area of Taipei, Marco Casagrande’s Cicada pavilion represents a gentle, yet bold and refreshing interjection into the concrete hardness that is synonymous with a working city and offers a welcome cocoon for escape from the city, and industrial meditation.

Marco, how are you Trained and from what or whom do you draw your inspiration? 

I studied architecture, but the real studying has been through my work and meeting with people. Childhood in 
Lapland is as important as university, if not more. Child-me keeps me in connection with nature. I am more inspired by movie directors than other architects. Tarkovsky, Eisenstein, Lang, Bergman, Kurozawa, Coppola in Apocalypse Now, Kubric, etc. Books are also important. My biggest inspiration is nature, including human nature. 

What projects and/or events led to the design and creation of the Cicada pavilion and why was this project executed in Taipei?

I worked the first time with bamboo and organic structure in Shenzhen Biennial in 2009 together with Hsieh Ying-Chun and Roan Chin-Yueh. This was my first encounter with the South-Chinese local knowledge of bamboo. Cicada’s client visited the Shenzhen Bug Dome and later on wanted something like that in Taipei. The idea is to ruin the industrial city. Ruin is when something man-made has become part of nature. Local knowledge is one of the elements that can turn the industrial machine into an organic machine. 

You sougth to create a structure that is out of place, both in terms of time and material. What instigated the need to do this and how does the Cicada pavilion fulfil this need?

Modern man has to take the liberty to travel 1000 years back in order to realize that things are the same. Cicada offers this possibility. High density urban communities have been living in good harmony with the 
surrounding nature, but we have forgotten this. In order to reach the Third Generation City we need to forget this forgetting and let nature in. Modern man in a box is doomed to dementia. 

Why did you choose to use a fire pit and benches inside the pavilion?

Making open fire inside the modern city is interesting for me. Citizens around the fire sort of melt down and 
become human again. The benches are like insects in this space that can be used for many purposes. The organic form is made for the dramatics of the space and for the way light comes in. The hole is for a vertical axis and in connection with the fire-place.

"Ruin is when something man-made has become part of nature. Local knowledge is one of the elements that can turn the industrial machine into an organic machine."

What led you to making use of a vacant site that is awaiting development for the creation of the Cicada pavilion? An will the pavilion be destroyed in time to make room for other developments?

In Taipei the slow circles of official development offer more fruitful possibilities for unofficial micro-development. Community gardens and urban farms are taking place on similar sites like Cicada – waiting for 
development. Some farms or gardens can be 20 years old on sites that, for example, banks are fighting for. 
Meanwhile, grandmothers are farming and tuning the city towards the organic. This is Urban Acupuncture. Cicada is following this method. The pavilion will get destroyed and the site will get developed and new holes in the city’s mechanical reality will open up for organic growth.

Why did you choose to use bamboo in this project?

The whole structure is bamboo - amazing material when it comes to organic strength. For anchoring, there is 
a pile of top-soil outside as the counter-weight. The bamboo is from Central Taiwan and it is not treated in any way. Similar kinds of structures have been done forever. Only the city is a new thing.

Why was ivy planted along the side of the structure? How does this form part of your idea?

The creepers provide good micro-climate and change the building every day. It is good if architecture can 
become a structure for urban bonsai. Architecture without nature is nonsense.

How do you respond to Cicada being "insect architecture"? What does this meat to you?

I have studied a Phimenes Sp. Wasp making his cocoon out of cement that he stole from me. It understood the structural possibilities, immediately mixing the cement with mud and some pieces or straw and sticks. His cocoon was fantastic and has been the inspiration for Bug Dome, Cicada and more to come.

"Modern man in a box is doomed to dementia."

How have people responded to your designs?

I have been surprised by how much people love this space. This is wonderful, especially when all kinds of 
people from different backgrounds like Cicada. Even children like it. It looks like the organic space is doing 
some magic for the industrial man. He feels good in it. He remembers something, feels hope.

Marco, what projects lie ahead in your future? What is the trajectory of your career path and what do you hope to achieve through your work.

I don’t have a career path. I believe in accidents. In future I will work more with insects and local knowledge. I want to see the Third Generation City, the organic ruin of the industrial city. I will also develop further the possibilities of Urban Acupuncture for punctually tuning the mechanical urban machinery towards the organic. I also want to create more good homes for good people and operate freely in-between architecture, environmental art, ecological urban design and other forms of art and science within the general field of built human environment.

Casagrande views the city as a complex energy organism in which different overlapping layers of energy flows are determining the actions of the citizens, as well as the development of the city. By mixing environmentalism and urban design Casagrande develops methods of manipulation of the urban energy flows in order to create an ecologically sustainable urban development towards the so-called Third Generation City. The theory of the Third Generation City views the urban development as the ruin of the industrial city, an organic machine ruined by nature, including human nature and urban acupuncture as a cross-over architectural manipulation of the collective sensuous intellect of a city. Architecture is in the position to produce the acupuncture needles for the urban chi. Weeds will root into the smallest cracks in the asphalt and eventually break the city. Urban acupuncture is the weed and the acupuncture point is the crack. The theory opens the door for uncontrolled creativity and freedom. Ruin is something man-made having become part of nature.

"It looks like the organic space is doing some magic for the industrial man. He feels good in it. He remembers something, feels hope."

Casagrande’s works have been awarded in the Architectural Review’s Emerging Architecture 1999, 
Borromini Award 2000, Mies Van Der Rohe Award 2001, Lorenzo Il Magnifico Award 2001, La Nuit Du Livre Award 2006, World Architecture Community Awards 2009, World Architecture Festival Award 2009, Architectural Review House Award 2010 and World Architecture Community Awards 2010 competitions.


Architect: Marco Casagrande

Location: Taipei City, Taiwan
Project Mangers: Delphine, Peng Hsiao-Ting / JUT Group, Nikita Wu / C-LAB
Casagrande Laboratory for Cicada: Frank Chen, Yu-Chen Chiu, Shreya Nagrath, Arijit Sen
Dimensions: 34m long, 12m wide, 8m high
Interior space: 270 m2
Project year: 2011
Building time: 4 weeks

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Ruin Academy / Marco Casagrande

Arquiteto: Marco Casagrande
Localização: Taipei, Taiwan
Equipe: Nikita Wu
Coordenadores Jut Foundation : Lea Yi-Chen Lin, Yi-Ling Hung
Área: 500.0 m2
Ano: 2010
Fotografia: AdDa Zei

Ruin Academy é um centro independente de pesquisa em arquitetura no Núcleo Urbano em Taipei, Taiwan. Esta academia funciona em cooperação com a Finlândia, baseado no Casagrande Laboratory e na taiwanesa JUT Foundation for Arts and Architecture.

A Ruin Academy tem como objetivo de repensar a cidade industrial e o moderno man in the box. Ela organiza workshops e cursos para várias universidades taiwanesas e internacionais, incluindo a National Taiwan University Department of Sociology, Tamkang University Department of Architecture, Aalto University Sustainable Global Technologies Centre e a Helsinki University of Arts and Design Department of Environmental Art. A pesquisa e as conversas sobre design circulam livremente entre arquitetura, desenho urbano, environmental art e outras disciplonas da arte e ciência com o foco geral no ambiente humano construído. No edifício todas as paredes internas e todas as janelas foram removidas para que dentro da casa cresça bambu e outros vegetais. Os professores e alunos estão dormindo e trabalhando em ambientes feitos com mogno e também aproveitam de uma sauna pública no 5o andar. Em todo o edifício foram feitos furos de 15 cm para deixar que "chova dentro". A academia é vista como um exemplo ou um fragmento da Cidade da Terceira Geração, a ruína orgânica de uma cidade industrial. Sem suas ruínas o homem é apenas um macaco comum.

A Ruin Academy está localiza em Taipei, em um edifício residencial de 5 andares abandonado e transformado em composto para a cidade moderna. Composto como futura parte do solo. 

Lá não desenhamos, mas buscamos ganchos no conhecimento local da bacia de Taipei e reagimos sobre isso. O design não deve substituir a realidade. O conhecimento local está pressionando, através do tecido industrial da moderna Taipei, como um doença boa para a cidade. A Academia é um olhar para este processo que mantém a cidade viva. Em Taipei está crescendo a Cidade da Terceira Geração - a verdadeira realidade para além do absurdo industrial.

A academia trabalha com Taipei como estudo de caso urbano e com outros projetos menores tem Taiwan, a fim de determinar os elementos da Cidade da Terceira Geração. Nossos alunos/operadores não são voluntários; eles são chamados de construtores/jardineiros. Nós queremos cultivar uma cidade e tratá-la com acupunturas urbanas encaminhando a cidade para o orgânico. Taipei é terra-de-ninguém, dominada pelo industrialismo oficial e pela anarquia da selva. Em avós nós confiamos. A academia está em constante mudança misturando ruína com canteiro de obras.

Estamos focados na pesquisa da Cidade da Terceira Geração - a ruína da cidade industrial. A pesquisa é feita em colaboração com universidades taiwanesas e finlandesas, grupos e indivíduos com a Adacemy atuando no acompanhamento de uma série de workshops e de trabalhos individuais. Somos um campo de refugiados voluntários dentro da comunidade arquitetônica. Talvez seja melhor chamar de ambiente humano construído em vez de arquitetura ou desenho urbano. Ou apenas ambiente humano. A cidade 3G é uma matriz orgânica da natureza misturada com a construção humana. O domínio da terra-de-ninguém está sempre mudando. O conhecimento local sabe disso. Parece pouco mas é forte. Uma cidade suando humanidade e constantemente limpando esse suor. O controle arquitetônico é um processo de doação deixando a natureza tomar conta. O modernismo perdeu e a máquina ira se tornar orgânica. Isto aconteceu em Taipei e é isto que estudamos. A Ruin Academy é uma máquina orgânica.

  • Térreo - Exposto, aberto e com o solo aparente. Camada de resíduos de construção para drenagem. 5 oliveiras.
  • 1o pavimento "Arquivo" - Pedaços da casa em pedras brancas. Aberturas de 15 cm ao longo da fachada. Uma ponte de mogno através do vazio do térreo. Pilha de sujeira no canto. Lareira.
  • 2o pavimento "Dormitório estudantil" - Unidades dormitórios para 4 estudantes feitas em mogno. Mesas de trabalho e bambus crescendo. Jardim com maracujá, Aspenium nidus e repolho chinês. Aberturas de 15 cm por todo o piso e teto. Cozinha e banheiros.
  • 3o pavimento "Professores" - Camas de mogno sobre rodas. Bambu crescendo pelas janelas. Aberturas de 15 cm no piso e no teto. Cozinha e banheiros.
  • 4o pavimento, "Lounge" - Palco. Bambu crescendo pelas janelas. Aberturas de 15 cm no piso e no teto. Banheiros. Lareira.
  • 5o pavimento "Sauna" - Sauna pública, tudo em mogno; melhor sauna do Pacífico. Um ambiente de estar, pedras brancas. Chuveiros com bambu. Aberturas de 15 cm.
Joanna Helm / ArchDaily Brasil

Monday, June 24, 2013


Large cities like Johannesburg are increasingly becoming characterised by the presence of small-scale appropriations of urban space, known as “acupuncture points”. Clarissa van der Merwe investigates the modern trend of urban acupuncture and the influence it has on cities of the future. Urban acupuncture is an ideology that views the city as a living organism. The concept proposes that the intervention or renovation of one part of a city has a ripple effect on the greater city and community. 

Mokena Makeka, a renowned South African architect, says: “We have inherited infrastructure that is problematic and it is close to impossible to entirely change our cities.” However, Makeka also mentions that when people come together, amazing things are possible in public spaces, and that urban acupuncture will help to make these possibilities a reality. 

Cities have always played an essential role in the way people interact with the environment. In an ideal world, cities would be built in a way that would allow for the perfect symbiotic interaction between people and the environment. This is not the case in South Africa, as many of its cities suffer from urban decay and neglect of previously popular, majestic buildings and spaces. 

Urban acupuncture is a realistic means of revamping cities in a way that would allow a community of people to come together and use their surroundings to their own benefit. Space is limited in cities and urban acupuncture will allow forgotten, run-down spaces to be recreated and reused. It is important for city planners to understand this approach, as it is an effective way to make minor improvements in order to achieve greater good. 

The greater good refers to the empowerment of communities by creating economically active citizens in providing them with infrastructure previously lacking in their environments. Developers and planners often neglect to keep in mind that, when new communities are developed, other facilities like schools, churches and shops are needed in order to make the community itself flourish, as opposed to simply developing another “settlement” where the community still needs to travel 20 km to the nearest school or grocery store. 

“In the same way that one acupuncture needle can influence the overall health of a body, we believe that a single key project in a community can work to create a positive ripple effect to help the entire affected community in its recovery process.” 

The proper application of urban acupuncture can also lead to environmental conservation, as only small areas of land are used for smaller projects. Furthermore, the emission of greenhouse gasses will be reduced as people would not have to travel very far away from their homes for shopping and recreation. 

The concept of urban acupuncture, although not a new concept internationally, has only recently been adopted in South Africa. The pioneers of urban acupuncture in the country are Mokena Makeka, with his many projects in Cape Town, such as the development of the Museum of Design, Innovation, Leadership and Art (MoDILA) and Propertuity, a firm led by Jonathan Liebman, who developed the Maboneng Precinct in the east of Johannesburg. 

 A social theorist and architect, Professor Marco Casagrande, describes urban acupuncture as: "Cross-over architectural manipulation of the collective sensuous intellect of a city. The city is viewed as a multi-dimensional sensitive energy-organism, a living environment. Urban acupuncture aims to be in touch with this nature and sensitivity to understand the energy flows of the collective chi beneath the visual city and reacting on the hot-spots of this chi. Architecture is in the position to produce the acupuncture needles for the urban chi. A weed will root into the smallest crack in the asphalt and eventually break the city. Urban acupuncture is the weed and the acupuncture point is the crack. The possibility of the impact is total, connecting human nature as part of nature.” 

The winner of the Deutsche Bank Urban Age Award (DBUAA) Cape Town 2012 was the “Mothers Unite” project, which demonstrates the power of urban acupuncture. Mothers Unite was founded in 2007 and provides a safe haven from the gangsterism, drugs and violence that form part of street and home life in the area. Built with shipping containers, the village is made up of a library, kitchen, office, sheltered area, playground and food garden. 

The theory of urban acupuncture opens the door for creativity and freedom. Each citizen is enabled to join the creative participatory planning process, feel free to use city space for any purpose and develop his environment according to his will. This new city is characterised by sensitive citizens who feel the calling of sustainable co-operation with the rest of the nature, and who are aware of the destruction that the insensitive modern machine is causing to the environment and human nature. In a larger context, a site of urban acupuncture can be viewed as communicating to the city outside like a natural sign of life in a city programmed to subsume it. 

Read more about the Maboneng Precinct in the main “Refurbs and Renovations” feature, elsewhere in this issue. 

Where did urban acupuncture originate? 
Urban acupuncture is the brainchild of the Finnish architect, Professor Marco Casagrande, who developed the theory at the Tamkang University of Taiwan. The theory came about when he was invited by the Taipei City Government to study an urban farming community enclave Treasure Hill within the city, where he noticed a great potential of human energy. 

Full thanks and acknowledgement are given to www.mabonengprecint . com, and the Harvard Business Review for the information provided to write this article.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


Casagrandes Intervention auf dem Treasure Hill folgt dem Konzept der third generation city, eine Alternative zur aggressiven Stadtentwicklung. Die Ruin Academy versucht mit ihrer Architekturforschung, ihren Workshops und Projekten ökologische Prinzipien der Third Generation City zu etablieren. Casagrandes Verständnis vorausgesetzt besetzt die First Generation City das Verständnis der maßvollen Stadtentwicklung; sie geht auf topologische und geologische Begebenheiten ein. Die Second Generation City entspricht der industriellen Stadt, welche natürlichen Ressourcen ausschöpft um zu wachsen; die Third Generation City schließlich operiert eher mit ökologischen als mit ökonomischen Anweisungen: “Die Third Generation City ist die Ruine der industriellen Stadt.” Sie soll der organische Layer der Stadt sein, der Lebensalternativen wie auch Geschichten, sogenannte "urban rumors," kreiert, um Entwicklungsmöglichkeiten der industriellen Stadt zu entdecken. Die bruchstückhafte (trümmerhafte) Organisationsstruktur der Gemeinschaftsgärten durch “anarchistische Großmütter” des Treasure Hills dient als Denkmuster. Die Third Generation City spiegelt Clements Third Landscapes in die Stadt. In Casagrandes unverfrorener, utopischer Konzeption finden wir Widerhall von Widerstand gegen kapitalistische Regime wie sie auch Clement beschreibt: „globales Bewusstsein erwachsen aus einem Umweltschutzgedanken erschüttert das Gleichgewicht zwischen Unternehmen und Individuen: eine Art obligatorische Solidarität, inhärent den Lebensbedingungen auf der Erde, festigt unseren Verstand entgegen konventionellen Interessenkonflikten.“ Casagrande sieht die wachsende Sensibilität bewiesen durch das Florieren informeller Gemeinschaftsgärtenm entlang der Flußbänke, auf verlassenen Baustellen und anderen Landstücke undefinierter, komplexer Eigentümerverhältnisse in Taipei. Diese informellen Gärten funktionieren außerhalb der offiziellen Stadtplanung als „Fehlstellen in der urbanen Struktur, die Spontangemeinschaften in sich aufsaugen und einen Nährboden für Anarchie durch Gärtnern darstellt.

Free newspaper for the Austrian Museum of Contemporary Art MAK exhibition Eastern Promises, 2013