謝英俊建築工作中的社會性

Huang Sun Quan
Feb 6, 2017 · 5 min read
來吉工作坊,最後上樑的射箭

謝謝英俊的建築工作這幾年獲得極大的回響,無論在台灣、中國還是海外。一系列災後重建工作的成績使謝英俊擁有「災難建築師」、「人道主義建築師」、「社會建築師」、「公民建築師」等美譽 ,然而這僅是媚俗的讚譽。建築評論的工作,乃是在脈絡性的理解架構裡,檢視建築實踐與欲解決問題的關係性構成。亦即,我們需要回答謝英俊建築意識型態召喚了什麼而建築實踐又回應了什麼。

謝的工作正如他所說,「災區的問題不是解決災後的問題,而是解決過去的積累。」那台灣過去的問題為何?

其一,乃是發展取向國家造成的創傷(trauma of Developmental State),近年來的自然災難乃是對台灣政府長期重經濟輕環境政策與空間治理失格的一次性反撲。其中牽涉到了農作物單一化、南水北引以及同形遊憩商品大量複製的結果,資本透過空間差異得以快速累積循環,而此差異地理的後果則不平均地由弱勢地理與社會位置的人們承擔大部分,原住民的部落與生存空間則是受害最嚴重者。

其二、台灣的都市過程乃是意識的都市化(urbanized consciousness ) ,西方都市生活作為一種「未曾謀面」的想像經驗普遍成為吾人對於日常生活及其文明的渴求,如現代樓房、房舍空間形式材料等,真實地反應在災民對謝英俊工作中的不滿(如房子簡陋不完善、沒有水泥不堅固等)。

第三、非正式營建體系(違建與底層建築工人)乃 是國家機器無法提供足夠住宅而「刻意容許」人民的營造,是自己幹(DIY)的現代性以及對於「建築專業」匱乏且昂貴的因應;同時,在台灣六七零年代經濟起飛之際,底層工人與城鄉移民、原住民進城尋求生機,最先投入的便是城市的營建工作。營建業在八零年代到九零年代是台灣GDP的主要貢獻者,因為這兩個原因,城市違建農村自建與底層人民的工作,為台灣創造了許多「準專業」的工匠,這在後來謝英俊的計畫中,扮演重要的角色。

這三個脈絡乃是理解謝工作的重要地基。從九二一以來,謝英俊與其第三建築工作室完成了上百件項目。以謝英俊建築師自己總結這十幾年來的經驗說法,他的建築系統有三個主要部分:「持續性建築」涉及了永續、環保、材料回收等概念,「開放系統架構」確保了低成本與勞動參與性,而「互為主體」則是居民參與了開放性系統之後的結果。

開放性架構或可理解成現代主義工業化模組化嘗試中最輕量簡約、控制最小參與最大的版本,也同時確保了地方性的生產而非僅於房子的生產。開放性架構是個「未完成的建築計畫」,乃是建築師作的最少(現代主義的建築師主體則是無限擴大),而居民參與最大(現代主義工業化的房子是作為消費而非生產的)。基地與主梁由專業者完成,只要留下的「公共空間」夠大,這房子就會長出來。開放系統確保了在創傷時期,藉由勞力的參與,群體的支持,變成災民「重新寓所」的力量。他們擁有自己的營造方式與經驗,只要不要將其視為「弱者」,他們會用自己最經濟的方式完成,而開放系統就是保證這種力量出現的方式。

永續建築其實由他對土地的中繼概念而來。「中繼」意味著土地不屬於個人,人無法永遠的擁有土地,人民總是智慧地「暫居」於土地之上。這是災後成為最能說服災民,但在面臨永久屋的選擇時最不能認同的論述。在展現的層次上,環境對應著綠建築,每個人都可以參與操作的營造系統;經濟則指非依賴性、非貨幣交換性的營造過程(如以工代賑與讓災民成為包工小組);而社會文化指的則是保持社區的、自主的、多樣化。

建築師並非沒有主體,而是要體認自己與他者的不同,不同意味著是絕對的他者而非弱化的主體或他者。不是聆聽,不是坐下來仔細辨識差別,而是在一個共同的時間與空間,互相說服 / 鬥爭的過程中,讓每個人都「有機會」完成主體的建構,完成建築的生產過程。這個動態生產就是「互為主體」的生產過程,而非建築師的設計方法。

謝英俊的工作的重要性,是他在特殊的歷史條件下以建築工作(無論有無意識)回應並「黏合」了我指出的三個脈絡而生產出空間。他的建築工作與要解決問題之間有清楚的「分工與交流」(馬克思語)的關係性構成。要知道,越是認為建築是理念設計的完成物就離實際的建築越遠 。我並不是說,他確實的解決了問題,而是說他在當下的條件中,企圖透過建築去回應他直覺所感受的部份。這是他建築工作最重要的當代性,最具有意義的「社會性」。(刊於今藝術,2011 十二月號)

Sociality in the Architectural Work of Y.C. Hsieh
Huang, Sun Quan

Y.C. Hsieh’s architectural design work has earned significant attention in recent years in his native Taiwan, Mainland China and overseas. While a string of successful post-disaster reconstruction projects have led the media to refer to him by catchy nicknames like the “Disaster Architect”, “Humanist Architect”, “Social Architect” and “Architect of the People”, such accolades are simple flattery. As the job of architecture criticism is to examine problems in the architectural profession and consider the structural relationship of such problems in terms of contextual logic, this article considers what Hsieh’s architecture ideology reflects and what issues his architecture practice addresses.

“In areas hit by disasters,” Hsieh says, “the problem lies not in dealing with the aftermath, but rather in resolving the many problems that were left to accumulate before disaster struck.” So, what are some of Taiwan’s accumulated issues?

One problem is clearly the nation’s lingering trauma as a developmental state. Taiwan’s string of natural disasters in recent years is a direct result of the government’s long-running promotion of economic growth at the expense of good environmental and land management policies. Examples include increasing agricultural crop uniformity, the diversion of southern watersheds to northern population centers, and the cookie-cutter approach to domestic leisure and recreation. Capital earns quick cumulative returns by leveraging spatial differentials, while geographic disparities shift most of the costs onto disadvantaged areas and society’s poorest classes. The communities and living spaces of Taiwan’s indigenous peoples have suffered the most.

A second problem is the “urbanized consciousness” that typifies Taiwan’s urbanization experience. Cities in developed western countries form the idealized, albeit highly stylized and impractical, model that shapes our expectations of daily life and cultural sophistication. It directs thinking about how our high-rise buildings and interior spaces should be designed and what materials should be used. This mindset is reflected in the complaints directed at Y.C. Hsieh’s reconstruction projects by some disaster victims, who criticize the simple, “unfinished” quality of his homes and question his conspicuous avoidance of concrete — widely perceived as essential for structural durability.

A third problem is the chronic persistence of the informal construction market and its support of basic laborers doing unlicensed construction. This market is tacitly allowed to continue because of the formal construction sector’s inability to provide housing in quantities sufficient to meet demand. “DIY modernity” is also a reaction to the still inadequate level of architectural professionalism and high costs that typify the formal construction sector. The boom years of economic growth during the 1970s and 1980s saw an influx of laborers into the cities. The indigenous and lower class laborers who joined this urban migration often took construction work as their first job. In the 1990s and first decade of the new century, the construction sector was an important pillar of Taiwan’s gross domestic product (GDP). The wealth of experience basic workers gained building unlicensed urban structures and rural homes and buildings gave many basic laborers self-taught expertise in carpentry and construction. This pool of “semi-experts” was important to Hsieh as he mapped out his architectural career.

The above three problems are critical to understanding Hsieh’s work. In the dozen or so years since Taiwan’s 921 Earthquake, Y.C. Hsieh and his architectural firm, Atelier-3, have completed hundreds of projects. Summing up these years, Hsieh remarks that he adhered to three fundamental principles, namely Sustainable Construction (e.g., sustainability, environmental friendliness, material recycling), Open System Architecture (to minimize cost and labor), and Inter-subjectivity (i.e., the long-term benefits of getting the community involved in open system architecture).

Open system architecture (OSA) can be thought of as the use of modernist industrial and modular concepts to create highly streamlined, minimalist structures that maximize participation possibilities and guarantee that reconstruction work not only builds houses but also strengthens local communities. Local materials sourcing also helps OSA buildings stimulate the local economy beyond what is possible with traditional housing construction. OSA itself is an “unfinished structural plan” that minimizes the need for professional architect input while maximizing the opportunity for layman / non-professional participation. This differs from the mainstream modern architects who tend to focus on satiating their expansive egos and regard housing as a purely consumer item. Under the OSA concept, professionals lay foundations and install main structural elements, leaving adequate living space to allow a house to grow “organically”. The general labor and community support required for the OSA approach helps ensure that rebuilding homes in the aftermath of disaster is a process that brings communities together and facilitates the healing process. Communities can take their own distinct approaches to finishing off buildings. As long as architects don’t think of victims as disadvantaged, communities can successfully rebuild in an extremely cost effective manner. This is a distinct advantage of the OSA approach.

The sustainable building idea draws upon the concept that we are caretakers of the land. Caretaking recognizes that no one owns land in perpetuity. We can only hope to live wisely on a temporary inheritance. It is an idea fairly easily accepted by disaster victims, but still difficult to put into practice when looking to settle into a “permanent” home. Looking at the issue from several levels, the environment correlates with green buildings, and all have the opportunity to participate in the construction process. Cost effective refers to self-reliance and the non-monetary nature of the construction process (e.g., contributing labor instead of money and giving work contracts to disaster victims). Community culture refers to the healthy maintenance of communities and assurance of their autonomy and diversity.

The architect, while responsible for providing professional guidance and advice, must allow for differences of opinion with others. Such differences signal growing strength and confidence. Rather than a deliberate process of listening, communicating and negotiating, working through differences here is done on the fly, with all opinions vying vigorously with one another and working to win supporters. Everyone involved has an equal opportunity to complete his or her subjectivity. This dynamic process of production underpins Y.C. Hsieh’s “inter-subjectivity” principal of taking design work out of the architect’s hands.

The significance of Y.C. Hsieh’s work is its creation of space in a manner that (perhaps unconsciously) responds to and addresses the three problems mentioned. A clear relationship between division of labor and exchange (à la Karl Marx) links his architectural endeavors to these three problems. An important point to recognize is that the more one believes a building to be the culmination of a specific design concept, the further one is from architecture as a practical art. I don’t mean to imply that Y.C. Hsieh has hit upon the ultimate solution to the three problems. I am simply pointing out that he has worked to use his architectural talents to address certain perceived conditions in the marketplace. It defines the contemporary character of his architectural work and gives it its strong meaningful sociality.

(published in the December 2011 issue of Artco Magazine)


Originally published at Heterotopias.

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