The pressure on the East Asian cities has lead to an increasing densification the last decennia. It has made way to the construction of giant buildings, mostly blocks and slabs, that gradually replace and scrape away the small scale, low rise, more traditional, informal, individual, often ‚lighter’ types of architecture and urbanism: the hutongs in beijing, the small mostly wooden houses in Tokyo, the villages in Singapore, and now as well the individual houses in Taipei and other Taiwanese cities. These houses form mostly intense and socially highly connected communities, urban villages with enormous individual identities and differentiations. One can speak of urban ‚ecologies’...
How many of these urban villages, these informal urban settlements existed in the past and are scraped away? And how many still exist? How is their population? Which ones are threatened to disappear? Can we imagine another upgrade of these areas? Can we even densify these areas in such a way, that the casual informality can be combined with a higher density?
The higher ground prices put the existing villages under severe pressure. Can’t we find a way to combine the new demanded higher densities with these type of communities? Can we make buildings that are composed out of a true mixed individuality in more dense vertical way? Can we thus make new vertical villages that give alternatives for the monotonous sea of blocks? What technology is needed? How can light rules be accepted? Can it be phased? Does this individual approach also lead to a more mixed approach? Does it create housing types that, have more potential for leisure; that attract also a middle or higher class? Can it give space for individual expression, identity and architecture, a villa for everybody? Can it thus create a model for a new upcoming society? And can it even be combined with small-scale offices and working places? In short: is informal vertical urbanism possible?
The research on the vertical village is done in collaboration with MVRDV. A museum in Taipei will be constructed and dedicated to the concept of the vertical village, designed by MVRDV, opening in spring 2011.