02 Mar '18 — reflections from city walks
I’ve been to Taiwan many times but never had I enjoyed the city ambiance as much as I had this time. Growing up, I was always reluctant to visit Taiwan. It was a mess in comparison to the suburbs of Chicago. Chaotic signs, overlays of patterns all clashing together, I couldn’t grasp why anyone would want to live that way. Also the architecture didn’t interest me much.
But this time–it was a delight to explore.
Taiwan’s urban landscapes are an acquired taste. I am only able to appreciate because I’ve been paying to more design details in the past few years.
My husband and I spent a ton of time walking around Taipei. I felt overloaded with visual excitement. There are all sorts of decorative grilles on windows, doors. There were different tiles on the sides of buildings, granite patterns in lobbies and a wide range of patterns on the tiled public walkways. Each shop had separate flooring for their entrances.
At night, we came across dimly lit walkways, mysterious stairwells, noir flickering lights. When it was warm, the grating for many lunchtime restaurants were half open. You could peek into families having dinner watching tv in a shadowy, half lit room.
I previously assumed Taipei had no distinct architecture. Many buildings have a first floor retail space and apartments upstairs that go three levels up. Just boxed space stacked on top of each other.
I got to check a building out in detail. The ceilings are high. There was a smooth and heavy staircase that wound up to the top. It was more interesting than from the outside. Terrazzo is very common in Taiwan and different patterns can be found in most buildings.
Each of the building floors typically correspond to different residents. The grating and awnings are determined by the preference of those who live there. They all have different preferences. The plain stacked space buildings are each transformed into unique shapes.
metal, concrete and plants
I’m always unsure if my new found enjoyment actually comes from the thing I’m enjoying. Is Taiwan really that interesting in terms of design? Or is my newfound appreciation derived from having more gratitude overtime?