The Ruin Academy is an open source school/research centre to re-think the industrial city and the relationship between the modern urban man and nature.
Ruin is when man-made has become part of nature. We want this to happen to the industrial city and we want this to happen for the modern man. Taipei is currently presenting the most advanced industrial co-existence of a modern city and uncontrollable organic anarchy, nature including human nature pushing through the industrial surface and tuning the whole city towards the organic. To understand this force the academic disciplines are much for no use, also the politics will provide no tools. Communication needs to find another way.
Ruin Academy has focused its research to the un-official life providing systems within the official city. These are the systems that are constantly ruining the official Taipei, systems that are composting the city. From the organic top-soil produced by these composts will emerge the Third Generation City, the organic ruin of the industrial city, an organic machine.
There are no disciplines of art or science in the Ruin Academy. Renaissance means compost – rebirth. One has to die a bit to be reborn. The smelliest parts of Taipei are containing the highest level of life still in connection with nature. These are the corners that will provide us the local knowledge to establish the Third Generation City.
Cross-disciplinary work is essential for the knowledge building on the way towards the 3G city. Discipline means restriction, an obstacle on your way. Disciplines people can die in masses and be numb in masses. Ruin Academy is pliant and weak as the opposite of strength and hard. Through weakness it will challenge industrialism, modernism, science and society. The Academy is a basic shelter stripped down from industrial and academic nonsense.
Plan of the 4th floor lounge
So far our Taiwanese and international operators come from the following backgrounds: architecture, landscape architecture, horticulture, journalism, construction work, art management, fine arts, sociology, river engineering, energy and civil engineering. Most important is the connection to the Local Knowledge, the site-specific wisdom of surviving in the Taipei Basin. This knowledge seems to be in straight connection with the First Generation City, when the built human environment was dependent on nature and dominated by nature. The Local Knowledge is a driving force for the organic penetrations through the industrial layer of the Taipei Basin today. Local Knowledge is tuning the city towards the organic.
Communication brings another level to our work. We are producing our own newspaper Anarchist Gardener as a means to articulate our thinking and findings. There is also a group of young Taiwanese journalists that are reporting on our work. Our communication centre is the public sauna on the 5th floor of the Academy building.
What are the processes that are ruining the industrial Taipei? What are the systems that are bringing life to the modern machine? (Actually Taipei looks like an old machine; not like some other Asian sophisticated centres that look like urban dildos.) What is the essence that keeps the city alive? So: where are the seeds of the Third Generation City?
The elements of the Third Generation Taipei are:
Grandmother dominated community gardens and urban farms overtaking the sleeping capitalism spots of Taipei – Organic Anarchy.
Flexible movement to change location according to the development cycles of the city. Breaking the surface of the city and reaching the original ground.
At some points continuing ancient farm rights and land owning inside the city.
Often spontaneous activation of idle urban areas such as the river flood banks or land-fill areas.
The Anarchist Gardener element has been researched in co-operation with the National Taiwan University Department of Sociology.
Urban Nomad /
The urban nomads are using the official city as a stage or a landscape to launch independent and un-official activities for business, recreational or even religious activities.
Unofficial night-markets, street vendors, under-bridge activities, karaoke spots, gambling, abandoned gods refugee centres, beetle-nut booths, Taiwanese opera, puppet theatre, tai-chi etc.
Harvesting the city and being faster to move than the official control.
Instant Taipei will pop up in different locations of the city in different times and is related to the energy flows of the collective mind of Taipei. People are very sensitive to feel the impulses on the shared conscious. "There is this thing going on…" a whole city can be designed by rumours.
Sensitivity to understand the energy flows of the collective "chi" beneath the visual city and reacting on the hot-spots of this chi. People feel where the city is hot, or where things are going on – what is the feeling of the city.
Architecture is in the position to produce the acupuncture needles for the urban chi.
On a commercial level Urban Acupuncture is practiced in Taipei by for example the highest level of 7-Eleven convenient stores in the world..
Taipei is constantly being composted. On official circles the composting is done by developers, who are the true urban editors and on un-official level by illegal communities and the above mentioned anarchist grandmothers.
In some level the hard to talk areas such as the sneak street, the red light districts and temple dominated areas are also urban compost, but somehow on the darker gangster/religious dominated side while as the collective gardens and the spontaneous independent communities are presenting a higher level of constructive anarchy in the city.
There is a 10 high reinforced concrete flood-wall separating the Taipei human built environment from the river. This wall needs to go.
Ruin Academy will redesign Taipei based on free flooding and straight connection between the modern man and nature. The urban river will be naturally restored and the city ecologically rehabilitated.
The River Urbanism is developed together with the Aalto University's SGT Sustainable Global Technologies centre.
Local Knowledge is theme pushing through all the elements of the 3G City and tying the citizens to the 3G development.
Each of the elements are studied through a workshop, being presents in the situation and trying to interpret the findings. These fragments are then treated as the design seeds for the 3G Taipei itself.
The only problem with the current urban reality is that it is not real. Nature is the only reality.
I feel the universities have gone weaker the same time that the different scientific and artistic disciplines have gone stronger. Architecture stands in the crossroads of many humanistic, artistic and scientific lines. Now architecture looks like a traffic police hiding inside a concrete drum. Architects are able to communicate only with other architects. This is boring, completely unnecessary and close to nonsense. Architecture should be the one preparing on open table and public sphere for collective knowledge building, communication.
Ruin Academy wants to build up this table in a small scale. Ruin Academy is a meant to be a public sphere, like a pub. The academy is based on academic freedom like a circus rather than a university.
We want to rethink the industrial city and the modern man in a box. The Academy is a hole in the industrial volume; a tunnel travelling through the different layers of Taipei. People feel this tunnel and they are stepping in.
There are no windows in the Ruin Academy, just holes in the walls. Also the floors are penetrated with 6 inch holes in order to let rain inside. People are working and sleeping in the dry corners or where ever on a good weather. This is academic squatting. The researchers are talking around open fire places and get naked.
We are growing bamboo on the window holes trying to keep the traffic noise outside. Bamboo and taro also gives privacy in the shower room of the sauna. There are various vegetable gardens and composts inside the building.
The Ruin Academy is kindly supported by the JUT Foundation for Arts and Architecture.