Place-making and spatial transformation : a case study of Taipei, Taiwan
This thesis presents a study of the spatial transformation of the past and present city centres in Taipei, Taiwan to address the issues of place-making. The main objective is to explore the interactive relations between spatial configurations and daily life patterns in order to gain an understanding of the mechanism of spatial transformation and the underlying structure of urban pattern in association with the socio-cultural meaning. The study of these relations, mechanisms and the demystification of the underlying structure employs an integrated pluralistic approach which includes both quantitative and qualitative research strategies, and synchronic and diachronic investigations. This thesis uses a comparative case-study method to appreciate the relationship between everyday life and the cultural meaning of urban form and the variation in spatio-culture within a historical context, which together are understood as vital to the promotion of place-making. A morphological analysis is conducted to trace the city's spatial evolution over time. The analysis ranges from the city's macro-level to the urban quarter's micro-level, using the graph-theoretical techniques of space syntax and statistics. The analysis is strengthened by field research designed to gather a variety of interrelated data for the in-depth analyses of two urban centres: the old Hsimenting quarter and the new urban Dinghou quarter. The thesis identifies four major aspects. First, there is a strong correlation between the movement pattern of people and certain occupational uses such as the mixed use of commercial and institutional sectors. Second, the traditional and contemporary quarters differ in their syntactic values which indicate variations in the ordering of spatial configurations in the city. Third, the prime cultural features of the old and new urban centres are formed as a historical conjuncture of colonial and post-colonial products that are reflected in different types of spatial forms. Fourth, the genotype of the old urban centre arises from the articulation of temple space with narrow market streets, and its configuration has a deeper structure relative to the whole. In contrast, the spatial configuration of the new urban centre is distinguished by its shallow grid pattern. Its genotype is composed of the modern mega shopping mall and grand street which have a shallower depth value relative to other urban spaces of the city and converge to become the new spatial centre in Taipei today. The outcome is a specifically cultural understanding of place-making, rather than general knowledge of spatial transformation. In particular, this way of `reading' the underlying structure provides resources for characterizing the identity that gives meaning to place-making. The study also shows that the change of underlying rules, meanings and functions of urban spatial forms is in accordance with the modification of activity patterns, which is encouraged by specific groups. Thus, place-making is the result of the constant interplay of culture and tradition, which is necessarily articulated with the current situation of the spatial environment, but the validity of this interplay and articulation can only be evaluated by some form of concrete practice.