Preserving Everyday Rituals in Globalization
Religious festivals as an urban strategy
Qingshan Festival / Taipei, Taiwan
Type: Urban design
Function: Culture facilities
Property: Academic / Individual
What is the relationship between architecture and cultural events? As religious festivals are celebrated frequently around the year, the cities in Taiwan turn into a huge stage for the festival activities. This dynamic changes in the cities profoundly impact my approach to the understanding of urban phenomena.
Taiwan has faced the challenge of urban decay in many different aspects in the last few decades; such phenomenon is manifested in Wanhua District in Taipei. Despite the enormous amount of resources the city hall has invested in rejuvenating this area, such as expanding the train station and reconstructing the market, the issue persists.
To approach this from a different angle, instead of spending the resources on new construction or trying to redevelop the district into a modern city, this project aims to follow the context of religious festival that is representative of ancient urban life in Taiwan and propose an unconventional urban strategy for Wanhua District.
Religious festivals in Taiwan and Sinosphere area are local annual events taking place in local contexts that create a local economy model for the neighborhoods. Local temples take the central role in these events and also build up the differences among cities. Although local religious practices permeate the majority of Taiwanese’ lives, the built environment people live in has been dominated by the vision of modernization that prioritizes vehicles rather than its residents or festivals since the last century.
Because of this neglect, festivals are carried out on the streets and people are forced to celebrate the festivals together with adjacent traffic. To avoid this situation and to better integrate people’s lives with local religious practices, this project follows the context of these festivals regarding their schedule, scale and program. By doing this, the project aims to recreate the identity of the site and the urban life between religious festivals and daily life.
Religious Festival in Taipei
There are three main religious festivals takes place annually around Taipei city which are Qingshan festival, XiaHai ChengHuang festival, and Songshan Mazu festival. These festival present three of the oldest districts of Taipei where were the commercial ports.
Qingshan festival in Wanhua district, located at the south-west part of Taipei is the early developed area. Because of this, many historical monuments, old communities, and ancient temples exist in the area. In addition, vegetable, fruit, and meat wholesale market sit in the riverside of the district. Ximen shopping area where is Taipei`s pop culture area is on the west side of the district.
Wanhua district / Organizational chart
Wanhua district map
"An urban museum of the religious festival as a design strategy"
The strategy of this project is to design an urban museum of the religious festival, which is consisted of interventions of different scales. These interventions are not only to create a liveable neighborhood but also to show how the folk club is a mediating agency between human world and religious world. Consequently, the club would be transformed into a community school for celebration as well as a community museum for cultural items. By doing this, the approach creates an attraction point for tourists, who can in return benefit the local business and community.
People can come and visit the neighborhood which starts from the urban lobby, the temple yard. And then following a series of practicing squares on the street where people can see the lantern and festival objects. During this process, people can experience the atmosphere in between festival and daily life.
In the middle section of the street, the folk tower is placed to introduce what is behind the festival and present a daily performance to the people.
This urban museum will be an interface for the real world and religious world and most importantly the place where urban life happens.
Urban museum of religious festival
Intervention # XL, L, M, S
Intervention # Small
Qingsui temple yard
Intervention # Large
When the festival happens, groups of the festival team can enter the square with a linear path with alongside with community hall and street food market.
People can buy the food from the vendor and sit on the big staircase to enjoy the performance. And at the end of the square, people can see the folk club tower standing on the street to navigate people.
Intervention # Medium
Folk club tower
This is the entrance of the tower during the night, where welcome the people and the local material is being used.
Inside the tower, people can approach the festival activities via the path through the tower.