Sun, Dec 12, 2004 - Page 18 News List

Eco-technology paves the way without concrete

The Taiwan New Landscapes Movement is pioneering standards for public-works projects

By Gavin Phipps  /  STAFF REPORTER

Under the guidance of the then-mayor of Ilan, Yu Shyi-kun the county initiated the nation's first policy of long-term public space planning aimed at making public spaces both more attractive for visitors and more eco-friendly.

Riverbanks were transformed into lush green parks not by the altering the river's course nor by the constructing concrete dykes, but by more eco-friendly methods that mimicked the river's flow. Engineers constructed public walkways and reinforced riverbanks with rocks rather than concrete. The county has since established new environment friendly campuses, riverside parks and groundbreaking community housing projects.

Regular visitors to Ilan such as popular musician Matthew Lien, who has worked closely with Ilan County Government and Cultural Bureau for many years, feel that Yu's eco-friendly construction projects have enabled Ilan County to become a role model for the rest of Taiwan. As a result of its policy, the county has attracted and successfully hosted a series of international events including the Ilan Green Expo and the annual Folklore and Folk Game Festival.

"Ilan County's green policies are more apparent than any of Taiwan's counties," Lien said. "Clearly it has helped Ilan both in terms of quality of life and tourism.

A critical part of the movement's doctrine emphasizes the need to involve communities in planning construction projects that will directly affect them.

"There should be emphasis on good architecture that is ecologically sound and promotes sustainability," Lin said. "Grassroots participation is needed because the local communities need to be in a position to control the execution of public works for both local and tourism needs."

The main areas covered by movement-related projects are divided into eight categories: domestic travel routes, national gateway projects, new campus movement, new homeland building, new urban and rural landscapes, new river movement, eco-technology and new cultural facilities.

All of these are, according to King, critical areas in which the greening of construction can pave the way for sustainability.

"These areas are all important in providing us with both a new way of looking at things and improving our living environment," King said. "Everybody is affected by public buildings and because of which they should be constructed with the end user and the immediate environment in mind."

To date, 80 of the 150 public construction projects that have been initiated under the auspicious of the Taiwan New Landscapes Movement have been completed. By the year 2008 it is hoped that nearly all of Taiwan's public-works projects will have implemented the movement's core factors of sustainability, environmental awareness and cultural history.

Along with the Ilan River Park, other completed New Landscape Movement projects include the establishment of an eco-village at Puli in Nantou, the creation of ecological community landscapes at Jinshan, Gongliao and Baishawan and the reconstruction of the waterfront at Bali in Taipei County.

The most successful projects to date is, according to Lin, that which falls into the category of new campus movement. Predominantly located in Nantou and Taichung counties, many new campuses of this bracket developed from the need to reconstruct large numbers of primary schools destroyed by the 1999 earthquake.

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