My dream is to grow plants on buildings just as the human body grows hair," said Terunobu Fujimori, the architectural historian turned architect who grabbed Japanese media attention in the 1990s with a series of buildings that incorporated living plants.
\nThe names of Fujimori's works -- Chive House, Dandelion House, Single Pine House -- pretty much say it all. Hundreds of pots of chives sway in the breeze on the slanting roof of a one-story cabin in Chive House while the roof of Single Pine House has a pine tree growing on it.
\nPhotos of these and six other buildings by Fujimori in Japan, as well as four models of his architecture, are currently on show in Wildness in Architecture (野蠻建築展) at the National Culture Association (文化總會).
\nFor Fujimori, one of the key issues in 21st century civilization is the relationship between the natural and the manmade. His buildings, which incorporate nature, are meant to deal with the issue from a visual and aesthetic perspective.
\nIn addition to his architecture, Fujimori is known for a series of award-winning essays collected in Adventures of Detective Architecture, published in the 1980s. It was the first series of architectural essays to become a national best-seller in Japan.
\nConvinced that artificial structures and elements in nature can reach a perfect harmony, Fujimori uses steel, mortar and industrial wood to build the inner structures and hidden elements of buildings while placing plants, soil and stone in the more visible locations.
\nThe results are often houses of "ambiguous nationality" which appear naive or even surreal. He planted grass in a diagonal grid all over the roof of Camellia Castle, where a camellia is also planted.
\n"We often see plants on roofs of modern buildings, but they hardly ever blend in with the architecture. This is because rooftop gardens are usually designed by ecologists, who dislike artificial things. They would rather suppress the artificial to better express the plants," Fujimori said.
\n"But I think both the plants and the building have to look good. It's not easy, but I want them to get along well."
\nApart from building private houses, Fujimori designed the Kumamoto Prefecture Agricultural University Student Dormitory using local timber. Independent pillars, a characteristic of Japanese wooden architecture, are used, but with a twist -- the rows of freestanding, undressed pine columns give people the illusion they're walking in a forest.
\nFujimori admits that there are many limits to this incorporation of natural elements. "In Japan, most plants die in winter, so the houses can appear pretty only for a brief time. And when they grow too quickly, the house seems untidy. It takes a lot of work to make these buildings look nice," he said.
\nPlants in Taiwan, for example, may overwhelm the whole building into which they are integrated because they are "extremely strong".
\nWildness in Architecture will show at the National Culture Association located at 15, Chungchin S Rd Sec 2 (
PHOTO:VICO LEE, TAIPEI TIMES
PHOTO COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL CULTURAL ASSOCIATION
African-American entertainer Dooley appeared on local television show Super Entourage (小明星大跟班) a few weeks ago and was told by the crew that they wanted to do a skit in blackface. Dooley, whose real name is Matthew Candler, tells the Taipei Times that Super Entourage wanted to perform a rendition of the wildly popular “Ghana Coffin Dance,” a meme that has taken the world by storm. Instead, he showed them videos about the racist origins of blackface and slavery in America, and they agreed to drop the makeup. “[I told them] about the history [behind blackface] and [said] you decide
June 1 to June 7 In February 1988, Robert Wu (吳清友) set aside NT$17.5 million to purchase two Henry Moore sculptures from London’s Marlborough Gallery. He never bought the pieces. Feeling slighted that the gallery manager initially looked down on him as a Taiwanese, he decided that night to use the money to open his own art space back home. “Without selling any art, that money could support the gallery for four years. If I feature one artist per month, that provides a stage for at least 100 artists,” Wu said in the book Eslite Time (誠品時光) by Lin Ching-yi (林靜宜).
With listicles of local attractions including Costco and numerous children’s playgrounds, I was not expecting much. Opened on Jan. 31, the Taipei MRT’s Circular Line, or Yellow Line, made life in the nation’s capital even more convenient. But judging from Internet search results, it hasn’t opened up many new tourism opportunities, unsurprising as the route mostly crosses densely populated areas and industrial parks. Places like a sports stadium with rainbow colored bleachers perfect for Instagram selfies wouldn’t do it for me either, and it’s pointless to list attractions at the connecting stops that have existed for years. As a history nerd, there
The morning after the ride, my hands ached in a way I’d never before experienced, and my palms looked slightly bruised. Flexing my fingers as I waited for my coffee to cool down, I knew exactly which part of the previous day’s excursion had done this to me. As the go-to-work rush hour ebbed, I’d set off inland on my 125cc scooter. I took Provincial Highway 20 as far as Tainan City’s Yujing District (玉井). From there, I took Provincial Highway 3 into Nansi District (楠西). The route I’d planned would take me past the eastern side of Zengwen Reservoir (曾文水庫)