Taiwan is an island situated off the eastern edge of Asian continent with an abundant variety of geological and ecological features. Two-thirds of the island is covered by over two hundred; rugged mountain-ridges while most of the rivers are short and swift before reaching the ocean. Monsoon, typhoons, and earthquakes are frequent and seasonal throughout the year.
Consequently, the ecosystem of Taiwan is fragile and sometimes vulnerable specially when facing rapid industrial growth and increasing urban population. Most of the population concentrated in several metropolitan cities along the west coast. The shear density and limited land supply made Sustainability a pressing priority for rethinking the current urban development and its strategies. Two of the most challenging tasks in this aspect have always been – 1) to optimize the land use, and 2) to sustainably use, or re-use, of feasible spaces in the already crowded urban areas.
NCTU/TEAM UNICODE is organized and sponsored by Taiwan’s National Chiao-Tung University (NCTU), which is the leading academy neighboring the worldly famous HsinChu Science Park, Taiwan’s equivalence of Silicon Valley. TEAM UNICODE regards Solar Decathlon Europe 2014 as an excellent opportunity to develop a prototype for urban housing with innovative, sustainable strategy that offers as alternative to solving the above housing issue. The team approaches the design by incorporating very strong backings from local solar-technology resources (Taiwan is ranked the world’s second largest solar-equipment manufacturer) and the globally renowned Taiwan orchid agriculture, into the target project – the Orchid House.
The Orchid House is a manifestation of Sustainability as an urban residential renewal/addition as well as a green mentality for new life style. It is so positioned primarily for future applications in high-density urban areas where land supply is limited and a great percentage of the residential buildings may benefit from a holistic or, at least, partial renewal. The core value of such position is in minimizing potential commuting in order to reduce carbon emission and air pollution. Additionally, the increase of livable space due to such renewal creates possibility of offering social housing to young urban professionals. The current provision of social housing in Taiwan is solely by the government, and the options are quite limited.


NCTU science park


The Prototype


Unicode’s prototype of Orchid House is positioned to apply on the rooftops of urban residential housing and is planned to be an option for offering social housing.
The utilization of roof terrace has its socio-cultural root in Taiwan and the Orchid House is designed with a flexible interior plan to be highly adaptive for various functions and configurations. Such additional roof space is readily feasible for the use as housing, social space, or family gathering in daily life. It also serves as an incentive, once endorsed by the government policy, for existing owners to renovate and improve the value of rooftop, which may otherwise remain underutilized, if not abandoned.
For the SDE 2014 competition, the Orchid House will be configured in an “L” shape containing a typical one-bedroom family unit with a common terrace and rooftop. Furthermore, a “green-core” consists of strategically placed greeneries will also serves to reduce and helps to regulate the indoor microenvironment as well as functional, indoor planting area.
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NCTU UNICODE Team is a project team composed of faculty and students mainly from the Graduate Institute of Architecture, National Chiao Tung University, Hsinchu, Taiwan.