This summer I joined a study aboard project called Invisible city. We went to Taipei and Tokyo to participate and understand how urban designers solve the existing issues of old communities. Taipei is facing a challenge – urban regeneration. Nevertheless, lacking financial support and preventing the old communities from gentrification, urban planners and other professions are seeking possible ways to reactivate old communities without tearing down old building. It was impressive to know that Taipei has created different type of “Maker space” to deal with different problems.
Programs like The White Hut are crucial method for professionals to invite residents to participate in their social events and attract the youth back to the old communities. It provides a series of service for diverse groups of people. For students, The White Hut offers short lectures and classes to teach students how to repair small furniture or electronic appliances (or at least let students know the basic process of how things get repaired); for homeless, it offers several free training classes which can help them to find a job; for residents, this is a chance to involve with community activities since many of them volunteer to contribute their knowledge. This is kind of self- sustained way for the regeneration of old communities. It also reminded me of P-patch in Seattle, which can be regarded as another type of “maker space”. The essential goal of these programs is using the underutilized areas, increasing social participation and activating surrounding or even larger area.
Makerscape can not only apply to old communities, but also lifeless communities in developed countries. This kind of community resulted from numerous urban planner apply the “orthodox” planning theory to cities without considering the characters of each site. Makerscape offers diverse service in one location which can encourage residents to gather together. Besides, small enterprises such as hardware suppliers have the capacity to provide free tools and related lectures. In return, their service can cultivate well-trained workers for their companies. The strong connection among residents, retails and maker space activates the whole community. Thus, it creates a positive cycle- increasing participation encourages residents to build the confidence of neighborhood; increasing confidence enhances the willing to participate in social events and bring more consumption activities.
As a landscape designer, what we should do is to identify the social issues and offer creative solutions from design perspective. We also need to have systematic thinking and understand how do different factors and elements operate in the society.