The Vertical Village

Exhibition at Museum of Tomorrow in Taipei (5 Oct 2011 - 8 Jan 2012)

“The Vertical Village” exhibition explored the topic of rapid urban transformation in East Asia, the qualities of urban villages and the potential to realize this in a much denser, vertical way as a radical alternative to the identical block architecture with standard apartments and its consequences for the city. The exhibition consisted of analytical research, a grid of models, various movies, a documentary and animations, two software packages and a 6 meter tall installation of a possible Vertical Village developed by MVRDV and The Why Factory. Visitors could design their ideal house and compose their own Vertical Village with parametric software.

The pressure on the East Asian cities has lead to an increasing urbanization and densification the last decades. It has made way to the construction of giant buildings, mostly towers, blocks and slabs. A ‘Block Attack’ that gradually replaces and scrapes away the more traditional low rise, small scale, often ‘lighter’ types of architecture and urbanism: the Hutong in Beijing, the small wooden houses in Tokyo, the villages in Singapore, the individual houses in Taipei and other East Asian cities. These urban villages form mostly intense and socially highly connected communities, with enormous individual identities and differentiations. One can speak of urban ecologies, communities that have evolved over the course of centuries. Their faceless replacements packed with identical apartment units offer a Western standard of living for an affordable price, but at the expense of differentiation, flexibility and individual expression.

Is there an alternative to this process? Can one imagine a new model for the development of East Asian cities? Can these areas be densified in such a way that the qualities of the traditional village are preserved? The exhibition offers an alternative, a contemporary Vertical Village – a three-dimensional community that brings personal freedom, diversity, flexibility and neighbourhood life back into East Asian – and maybe even Western – cities.