tiistai 9. joulukuuta 2008


Urban Acupuncture. Drawing by Hiroki Oya / Casagrande Laboratory, 2013.

Urban acupuncture is an urban environmentalism theory which combines urban design with traditional Chinese medical theory of acupuncture.[1] This process uses small-scale interventions to transform the larger urban context. Sites are selected through an aggregate analysis of social, economic, and ecological factors, and developed through a dialogue between designers and the community. Acupuncture relieves stress in the body, urban acupuncture relieves stress in the environment.[2] Urban acupuncture produces small-scale but socially catalytic interventions into the urban fabric.[3]
This strategy views cities as living, breathing organisms and pinpoints areas in need of repair. Sustainable projects, then, serve as needles that revitalize the whole by healing the parts.[4] By perceiving the city as a living creature, thoroughly intertwined, “urban acupuncture” promotes communitarian machinery and sets localized nucleus ―similar to the human body’s meridians. Satellite technology, networks and collective intelligence theories, all used to surgically and selectively intervene on the nodes that have the biggest potential to regenerate.[5]
Originally coined by Barcelonan architect and urbanist, Manuel de Sola Morales,[6][7][8] the term has been recently championed and developed further by Finnish architect and social theorist Marco Casagrande, this school of thought eschews massive urban renewal projects in favour a of more localised and community approach that, in an era of constrained budgets and limited resources, could democratically and cheaply offer a respite to urban dwellers.[9] Casagrande views cities as complex energy organisms in which different overlapping layers of energy flows are determining the actions of the citizens as well as the development of the city. By mixing environmentalism and urban design Casagrande is developing methods of punctual manipulation of the urban energy flows in order to create an ecologically sustainable urban development towards the so-called 3rd Generation City (postindustrial city). The theory is developed in the Tamkang University of Taiwan[10] and at independent multidisciplinary research center Ruin Academy.[11] With focus on environmentalism and urban design, Casagrande defines urban acupuncture as a design tool where punctual manipulations contribute to creating sustainable urban development, such as the community gardens and urban farms in Taipei.[12]
Casagrande describes urban acupuncture as:
[a] cross-over architectural manipulation of the collective sensuous intellect of a city. City is viewed as multi-dimensional sensitive energy-organism, a living environment. Urban acupuncture aims into a touch with this nature.[13] and Sensitivity to understand the energy flows of the collective chi beneath the visual city and reacting on the hot-spots of this chi. Architecture is in the position to produce the acupuncture needles for the urban chi.[14] and A weed will root into the smallest crack in the asphalt and eventually break the city. Urban acupuncture is the weed and the acupuncture point is the crack. The possibility of the impact is total, connecting human nature as part of nature.
Casagrande utilized the tenets of acupuncture: treat the points of blockage and let relief ripple throughout the body. More immediate and sensitive to community needs than traditional institutional forms of large scale urban renewal interventions would not only respond to localized needs, but do so with a knowledge of how city-wide systems operated and converged at that single node. Release pressure at strategic points, release pressure for the whole city.[15]
The theory of urban acupuncture opens the door for uncontrolled creativity and freedom. Each citizen is enabled to join the creative participatory planning process, feel free to use city space for any purpose and develop his environment according to his will.[16] This “new” post-industrialized city Casagrande dubs the 3rd Generation City, characterized by its sensitive citizens who feel the calling of a sustainable co-operation with the rest of the nature, sensitive citizen who are aware of the destruction that the insensitive modem machine is causing to nature including human nature.[17] In a larger context a site of urban acupuncture can be viewed as communicating to the city outside like a natural sign of life in a city programmed to subsume it.[18]
Urban acupuncture focuses on local resources rather than capital-intensive municipal programs and promotes the idea of citizens installing and caring for interventions. These small changes, proponents claim, will boost community morale and catalyze revitalization.[19] Boiled down to a simple statement, “urban acupuncture” means focusing on small, subtle, bottom-up interventions that harness and direct community energy in positive ways to heal urban blight and improve the cityscape. It is meant as an alternative to large, top-down, mega-interventions that typically require heavy investments of municipal funds (which many cities at the moment simply don’t have) and the navigation of yards of bureaucratic red tape.[20] The micro-scale interventions targeted by “urban acupuncture” appeal to both citizen-activists and cash-strapped communities.[21]
Jaime Lerner, the former mayor of Curitiba, suggests urban acupuncture as the future solution for contemporary urban issues; by focusing on very narrow pressure points in cities, we[who?] can initiate positive ripple effects for the greater society. Urban acupuncture reclaims the ownership of land to the public and emphasizes the importance of community development through small interventions in design of cities.[22] It involves pinpointed interventions that can be accomplished quickly to release energy and create a positive ripple effect.[23]
He described in 2007: “I believe that some medicinal “magic” can and should be applied to cities, as many are sick and some nearly terminal. As with the medicine needed in the interaction between doctor and patient, in urban planning it is also necessary to make the city react; to poke an area in such a way that it is able to help heal, improve, and create positive chain reactions. It is indispensable in revitalizing interventions to make the organism work in a different way.”[24]
Taiwanese architect and academic Ti-Nan Chi is looking with micro urbanism at the vulnerable and insignificant side of contemporary cities around the world identified as micro-zones, points for recovery in which micro-projects have been carefully proposed to involve the public on different levels, aiming to resolve conflicts among property owners, villagers, and the general public.[25]
A loosely affiliated team of architects Wang Shu, Marco Casagrande, Hsieh Ying-chun and Roan Ching-yueh (sometimes called WEAK! Architecture) are describing the unofficial Instant City, or Instant Taipei, as architecture that uses the Official City as a growing platform and energy source, where to attach itself like a parasite and from where to leach the electricity and water… [The Instant City's] illegal urban farms or night markets is so widespread and deep rooted in the Taiwanese culture and cityscape that we could almost speak of another city on top of the “official” Taipei, a parallel city – or a para-city. WEAK! is calling urban acupuncture depending on the context as Illegal Architecture, Orchid Architecture, the People’s Architecture, or Weak Architecture.[26] The theory of urban acupuncture suggests that scores of small-scale, less costly and localized projects is what cities need in order to recover and renew themselves.[27]


 References
  1. Urban Acupuncture: Marco Casagrande – Adam Parsons, University of Portsmouth 12/2010
  2. Urban Acupuncture – Urban Applications 2013
  3. Ruin Academy – Casagrande Lab – Ariane Lourie Harrison, Architectural Theories of the Environment: Posthuman Territory Routledge, 2013
  4. Better Blocks: One of Many Urban Acupuncture Needles – Kelly McCartney, Shareable: Cities 8/2011
  5. Acupuntura urbana para sanar una ciudad – Martha Salotti, Sphere 2012
  6. Frampton, Kenneth. Megaform as urban landscape. University of Michigan, A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture+ Urban Planning, 1999.
  7.  i Rubió, Manuel de Solà-Morales. Progettare città. Vol. 23. Electa, 1999.
  8. De Solà-Morales, Manuel. “The strategy of urban acupuncture.” Structure Fabric and Topography Conference, Nanjing University. 2004.
  9. Could cities’ problems be solved by urban acupuncture? – Leon Kaye, The Guardian 21.7.2010
  10. Interview with Marco Casagrande on Urban Acopuncture, by Laurits Elkjær, Bergen School of Architecture 4/2010
  11. Anarchist Gardener Issue Two HK special 安那其建築園丁港深建築雙城雙年展特別版 – Nikita Wu, Ruin Academy 2/2012
  12. Partecipative design & Planning in contemporary urban projects – Christina Rasmussen, Urban Planning & Management, Aalborg University 6/2012
  13. “Urban Acupuncture: Revivifying Our Cities Through Targeted Renewal,” – Kyle Miller, MSIS 9/2011
  14. “Ruin Academy,” – Marco Casagrande, Epifanio 14, 2011
  15. Urban Acupuncture – Urban Applications 2013
  16. Compost City – Guoda Bardauskaite p. 30-31, Sustainable Urban Design Journal 1 2011
  17. Urban Acupuncture – Raune Frankjær, Rethink: Urban Interaction 10/2012
  18. Urban Acupuncture – Kelly Chan, Architizer 1/2012
  19. ‘Urban acupuncture’ touted for cash-strapped cities – David West, New Urban Network 7/2011
  20. London’s Urban Acupuncture: The Urban Physic Garden – This Old Street 8/2011
  21. ‘Urban acupuncture’ touted for cash-strapped cities – David West, Better Cities & Towns 7/2011
  22. Urban Acupuncture – Understanding Space 2011
  23. Curitiba: Jaime Lerner’s Urban Acupuncture – Bill Hinchberger, Brazilmax 2/2006
  24. Urban Acupuncture: Revivifying Our Cities Through Targeted Renewal – Kyle Miller MSIS 9/2011
  25. Chi Ti-Nan develops a project to preserve Hong Kong coastline Tai Long Sai Wan – World Architecture News 4/2011
  26. Illegal Architecture in Taipei – Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan Architizer 3/2011
  27. Could Cities Benefit from Small-Scale, Local “Urban Acupuncture” Projects Like This? – Kimberly Mok Treehugger 1/2012




BIOURBAN ACUPUNCTURE 

Review by Angelo Abbate

Marco Casagrande, Biourban Acupuncture. Treasure Hill of Taipei to Artena, Rome: International Society of Biourbanism 2013


Science fiction has always confronted artificial and natural reality. Most of it has envisioned a future that is going to corner and minimize nature, echoing social and philosophical treatises, art, and a diffuse anxiety about mature capitalism, with visions of inhuman cities, robots-like men, and life downgraded to slavery by an impersonal power system.
Perhaps that is not just fiction anymore, the leap into a paradoxical parallel-world having happened already, and we unknowingly living in it – living into the “second generation cities”, as Marco Casagrande says. These cities are ruled by intangible, unreal, and not-human purposes, and grow by systematically destroying those natural geometric patterns and sub-codes that scholars like Christopher Alexander, Nikos Salingaros, Stephen Kellert, and others working in the fields of Evidence Based Design and Biourbanism, are pointing out.
As human beings seem to be educated to feed destruction, exploitation, pollution, and waste of their own habitat, they are dehumanizing themselves.
The metropolis of Taipei, as many Italian dull suburbs, is no exception to this trend. The ones who live and work in accordance with life, such as urban nomads or indigenous communities, are a threat to the system. It wants to “save them from themselves”, checking and adjusting their activities.
Marco Casagrande offers a way out, a therapy for the sickness of our cities, a path to achieve what he calls the Third Generation City.
Cities, to be the fall of the machine, where “the ruin” is the reality produced by nature, that reclaims the artefact. Cities where the nature force takes the initiative, affects the design of industrial society, and becomes co- architect.
The treatment is described by Casagrande as “biourban acupuncture”, reviving the traditional Chinese medicine practice on city scale, in order to trigger purifying and healing processes in the urban organism
Marco mentions several “needles” of Biourbanism. All of them aim at establishing a contact between the urban collective consciousness and the vital systems of nature. Illegal community gardens in Taipei, and weed growing from cracks in the concrete, are examples of similar needles. Nature can restore wholeness from a single point or node – even the wholeness of our human condition.


HOLE

Ruin Academy is an organic void on the industrial tissue of the mechanical urbanism. It is a hole penetrating through the man-made layers of asphalt and concrete and finally reaching the original soil. Through this hole, a crack in the city, local knowledge can surface. There are many holes in Taipei performing urban acupuncture to the city.

In the alley of Ruin Academy there is a tree growing from the wall of a 5-story apartment building. This is a big and heavy tree that has spread its roots on a wide surface on the wall and it has penetrated through the wall in order to lock itself to the primary structures of the building. Its roots are further penetrating into the sewage system of the house and it uses the human circulation as its energy and water supply. This tree has chosen the man-made structure to be its living environment. It has balanced its growth not to break the building. It is an urban bonsai regulating itself according to the given conditions.



Architectural control must be broken in order to let nature to step in. Industrial city must be ruined through punctual interventions. The valueless void of the current urban development will be filled with ethics – the corners are windy. Urban Bioacupuncture is ecological restoration of existing cities through focus on cracks, holes and organic knowledge. Dictatorship of Sensitivity.

The community gardens and urban farms of Taipei are holes in the city. These holes are sucking in ad-hoc community activities to take place. Random holes are popping up here and there in Taipei. Some last for only a couple of hours, some keep going on for decades – like the 101 Garden. Hole in the city is un-official and it is maintained by organic power balancing. Temples are religious holes. Night markets and urban nomad activities are holes. The illegal city that keeps Taipei alive is urbanism of holes dancing on top of the official fiction.

University needs holes. The university has grown weaker the same time as the different disciplines have grown stronger. The academia should focus on the holes, not on the disciplines. Compost is dead without holes. When holes are introduced the compost will become the most fertile top-soil. Same with architecture, city and university.


A week will root in the smallest crack in asphalt and eventually break the city. Why does the nature want to break the city? City is an obstacle in the life providing system of nature and it wants to tune it to be part of itself. It wants city to produce life resonating with the rest of nature. 



* Urban Acupuncture is an urban environmental methodology, the brainchild of Finnish architect and professor Marco Casagrande who combines the theory of urban design with that of acupuncture.

* In urban acupuncture, an area is regarded as a complex organism of energy in which different 'energy layers' overlap with each other and influence residents behavior and conduct and how an urban area develops. Urban acupuncture is a point by point manipulation of the urban energy to create a sustainable town or city, which Marco Casagrande has dubbed '3rd Generation Cities'.


Free newspaper Mensch produced for the Austrian Museum of Contemporary Art 2013 exhibition Eastern Promises. The newspaper goes deep into the actions of the Ruin Academy and describes the thinking of Urban Acupuncture in detail.  

M E N S C H 

ANNA YUDINA / MONITOR 68#, extract:

Urban Acupuncture is a methodology combining the theory of urban design with that of acupuncture. In UA, an area is regarded as a complex organism in which different “energy layers” overlap, influencing resident’s behaviour and conduct, but also the way an urban area develops. UA is a point-by-point manipulation of urban energy to create a sustainable town of city, which Casagrande has dubbed “3rd Generation Cities.”

The UA theory celebrates the possibility of a lightweight touch with a total impact. UA is ruining the industrial surface of the built human environment. Ruin is when man-made has become part of nature. A weed will root into the smallest crack in the asphalt and eventually break the city. UA is the weed and acupuncture point is the crack.



UA has no fixed scale. “Acupunks” practice micro interventions like the Human Layer projects in various European cities, but they may also come to Puerto Rico and rethink an entire infrastructure, aiming to render the city liveable for pedestrians, and not the car traffic alone… Casagrande claims to have discovered UA – essentially, a method where humans are seen as part of nature – when he recognized the city as an enemy. “I am addicted to the city, but it’s a place where people get corrupted, where they blindfold themselves and live in constant hypnotization. You can fly your kite, or drive a scooter, but you don’t look inside yourself because this is called paranoia. It’s a climate that creates pollution and prostitution, so of course I was interested: it was like going to a whorehouse. But the city is also the ultimate place where people meet, and the collective conscious is cooking up here. I wanted to deal with this mass of organic collective energy, so the city became by target and UA – my too. It’s the strategy of a bird that shits over a city, and its shit contains a seed, and this fertilized seed goes down, and cracks the asphalt, and this organic thing starts growing. I needed to penetrate through the industrial surface in order to reach that what everyone sees and feels but the official system cannot deal with. At first I believed to be alone, but there were other people thinking along the same lines. The biggest step forward was when I found out that normal, real citizens were breaking the official city all the time.”

Casagrande esteems favelas and slums as high-potential acupuncture points. “Industrialism and any other kind of human control introduces rigidity – and, like with anything else in nature, rigidity means death. Flexibility, mobility, softness, weakness have a sense of life to them, so the problem itself may contain a better solution than the attempt at total control,” says Marco who reveres Russian writers Arkady and Boris Strugatsky. Their social science fiction deals exclusively with problems that have no satisfactory solution on the material plane. They pose the kind of question where every answer is strictly personal, one-off, and valid only if you find it deep inside yourself. Problem-solving is different from improvising. Casagrande opts for improvisation.




Encyclopedia > Urban acupuncture


Urban Acupuncture is an urban environmentalismtheory of Finnish architect, Professor Marco Casagrande which combines urban design with traditional Chinese medical theory of acupuncture. Casagrande views cities as complex energy organisms in which different overlapping layers of energy flows are determining the actions of the citizens as well as the development of the city. By mixing environmentalism and urban designCasagrande is developing methods of punctual manipulation of the urban energy flows in order to create an ecologically sustainable urban development towards the so-called 3rd Generation City (post industrial city). Casagrande has developed the theory in the Tamkang University of Taiwan.



What is urban acupuncture?

How can urban acupuncture be applied to a city?

Why?

1.

Urban acupuncture aims into a touch with the collective psyche of the city. The collective psyche is reflected through collective conscious which is striving towards the absolute, the real reality.

The theory of the urban acupuncture celebrates the possibility of a light-weight touch with a total impact. Total is a fragment of the absolute. Through urban acupuncture the absolute finds a way to reflect in the city.

Urban acupuncture is ruining the industrial surface of the built human environment. Ruin is when man-made has become part of nature. A weed will root into the smallest crack in the asphalt and eventually break the city. Urban acupuncture is the weed and the acupuncture point is the crack. The possibility of the impact is total, connecting human nature as part of nature.

As the city reflects control and strenght the urban acupuncture has to be weak in order to break the machine. In its direction towards the truth the weak architecture and weak art is the sister of theology and philosophy, but faster: weak art meets the absolute immediately; it is free from the philosophical discussion or the theological belief. Weak architecture is art. Art don´t need to believe and don´t need to discuss - it can not help being itself. There is no excuse for art, art reflects the absolute.

The collective mind generates the social drama that keeps the city alive. People are ruining their build human environment by being themselves. The third generation city is the ruin of the industrial city. The third generation city is part of nature. Urban acupuncture is aiming to the third generation city.

2.

Urban acupuncture can be applied to an existing city through art. The true environmental art in the urban context is urban acupuncture. Architecture is environmental art. Urban planning is the process of ruining the city. Weak artist and weak architect is a design-shaman interpreting what the bigger shared mind is transmitting.

3.

The complexities of the city are either working to support life or against nature.The idea of the industrial city is to be autonomous from nature. This autonomity is the source of pollution. Pollution is real, it is part of nature - city is not real.

What is real is valuable: what is not real is not valuable. Urban acupuncture connects the public to the real reality through small scale interventions. Nothing is taken away and nothing heavy is added to the city organism, but the present state of being is realized as part of the process of rottening and being ruined. Ruin is not a product, it is a process. City must be a compost.

Illegal community garden in the central Taipei. Photo Isis Kang.
Urban acupuncture is turning the urban compost to fruitful top-soil.

MORE


Urban Applications: Urban Acupuncture Los Angeles


Acupuncture relieves stress in the body, urban acupuncture relieves stress in the environment. This process uses small-scale interventions to transform the larger urban context. Sites are selected through an aggregate analysis of social, economic, and ecological factors, and developed through a dialogue between designers and the community.

The interest in bottom-up localized actions in blighted areas can be traced back to New York City in the 1970’s when artist Gordon Matta-Clark developed a systematic approach to intervening in derelict sites - mapping,acquiring, and altering buildings across the city. In the early 2000’s, amidst an upswell of ‘do it yourself’ urban interventions, Finnish architect Marco Casagrande coined the term Urban Acupunture to describe the corporal part-to-whole relationships he noticed while observing urban farms in Taiwan. He extrapolated this metaphor to the entire region, thinking of the city as an organism with many overlapping and interactive layers, flowing with currents of energy.

Casagrande utilized the tenets of acupuncture: treat the points of blockage and let relief ripple throughout the body. More immediate and sensitive to community needs than traditional institutional forms of large scale urban renewal interventions would not only respond to localized needs, but do so with a knowledge of how city-wide systems operated and converged at that single node. Release pressure at strategic points, release pressure for the whole city.


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