Objective

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Primary Beneficiaries – Young Urban Professionals

 

Young urban professionals were mostly excluded from the possibility of living in the heart of Taipei due to significantly higher housing rent and price. With the Orchid House urban strategy, they will be offered an opportunity for affordable, sustainable life style and be enabled enjoy closer accessibility to their workplace and the urban, social environment. They will also be able to timely establish a stronger socio-economical foundation for a better start-up in their career in addition to the benefit of a greener living environment. Ultimately, the urban social fabric shall be enhanced by having younger generation’s participation and becomes a more comprehensive, integrated community.
Ximending district was one of the oldest sections when the city of Taipei was first developed. It is situated at the west costal side along the riverside with a bustling harbour. Over the course of more than one hundred years, Ximending District flourished with the location advantages, however, as the city’s growth continues towards the more inland, east part of the city after 1980’s, Ximending gradually became a quieter, residential area with rather slow business activities. It is only until recent years that the citywide MRT (Taipei Metro Rapid Transit System) reconnected Ximending to the public network and it regained its momentum with infrastructural efficiency. The traditional, cultural vibrancy of Ximending quickly transformed into an attraction to not only the out-of-town tourists but also the local younger generation, and a lively mix of the old and new starts to develop.
TEAM UNICODE researched extensively throughout Taipei and select Ximending as it most potent target area for future application of the Orchid House prototype. This district consists of mostly 4-5 story buildings with a clear grid network of streets, which was laid as a business district at first during the Japanese colonization. With the cultural attraction, public accessibility, and infrastructural efficient street system, Ximending is considered to possess the most favourable conditions for the application of Orchid House prototype.
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Top-down & Bottom-up Urban Renewal Strategy

 

Our goal is to bridge the generation gap and integrate more eco-friendly buildings in the process. As one of the aspects of environmental architecture is to disturb the surroundings as little as possible, one of the things we hope to accomplish is to create a design that causes minimal disturbance and even contributes aesthetically to its surroundings. We choose “Urban Regeneration” as our goal because we strive not only to improve the architecture of crowded cities like Taipei, but also to target social issues by addressing the social, economic, and physical needs of the people. Our solution is to build on top of existing buildings – specifically, the row houses and duplex apartments that are extremely common in Taipei.
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Augmenting Pre-existing Architecture

 

Not only will our design support a sustainable system that increases energy conservation and cuts down on house utility costs, but it will also improve the visual landscape of the Taipei skyline. At the present, most of the roofs are either concrete with metal water tanks placed in the most convenient position or covered by metal roofs to prevent rainwater leakage. Our plan is to place the aesthetically-pleasing solar house on the rooftops of existing buildings, creating a place to live and socialize, as well as to put the necessary mechanical features.
With urban regeneration, we plan to expand existing structures with as little disruption to the original architecture and its occupants as possible. This is why we made sure to modularize the Orchid House. This reduces not only the costs, but also construction time. Additionally, the house is designed to fit on pre-existing buildings. Because the two building types we plan to target – row houses and duplex apartments — have different rooftop shapes, the Orchid House is designed in an “L” shape, in which the short arm of the “L”, the bedroom, can be detached to make an “I” shaped studio. This “I” shaped structure fits perfectly on the long, narrow rooftops of row houses; the stairs of the Orchid House can be connected to the original stairs of the row house, and the mezzanine level can become an open socializing space for all the tenants of the building.
Moreover, when applied to the wider duplex apartment buildings, the “L” shaped Orchid House can be mirrored to form a sideways “C”. Not only does this form efficiently increase the number of social houses, but it also contributes to the lives of the original occupants of the apartment. The terrace space within the “C” can have multiple purposes. For example, it can be used as an area to gather and hold social events; people can cultivate plants for aesthetics or for food which idea we’ll use in Dinner Party in competition, and for improved air quality; the apartment can also utilize the terrace as space to extend its pre-existing elevator. In the last case, the Orchid House can contribute even more by sharing some of the electricity harvested by its solar panels and using it to power the elevator.
Essentially, the best and primary intention of Team Unicode is to create a single dwelling prototype that focuses on environmental and social issues. Our design will reduce the heat island effect of Taipei and encourage households to conserve resources and use less destructive forms of energy. In addition to our “green rooftop system” we also intend to create passive wind ventilation systems that will save energy in the naturally hot and humid Taiwan environment. Furthermore, our design will also contribute greatly to improving the collective Youth housing program of Taiwan and provide better living conditions for the population.
 


 

Building Integration

 

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The collective housing system of the Orchid House does not only add a new addition to the house, but also creates a chance to revamp the old building equipment, extend the building’s life time. During the 1990s, Taiwanese economy is quite prosperous and it encouraged investors to develop the city. However, it was done under the pressure of time and money, thus, a lot of construction was rushed and done poorly. Most of the 15 to 20-year old building already have the problems of rusted pipes and insufficient electrical wires, that leads to clogging the sewage pipes, and dangerous electric overload condition. Therefore, it is recommended to change the water and electric equipment every 20 years.
Furthermore, leaking rooftop is another major reason that shortens building life cycle. Being an island, Taiwan has a lot of rainfall with high salt content in the air. Before placing the Orchid House, we must first improve the waterproofing on the rooftop to prevent leakage.
Essentially, the best and primary intention of Team Unicode is to create a single dwelling prototype that focuses on environmental and social issues. Our design will reduce the heat island effect of Taipei and encourage households to conserve resources and use less destructive forms of energy. In addition to our “green rooftop system” we also intend to create passive wind ventilation systems that will save energy in the naturally hot and humid Taiwan environment. Furthermore, our design will also contribute greatly to improving the collective Youth housing program of Taiwan and provide better living conditions for the population.
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All Rights Reserved. NCTU UNICODE Team, Project Orchid House, for Solar Decathlon Europe 2014. Authorship of the articles, documents, photographs, videos and presentations found on this site are belong to their corresponding creators, if not mentioned otherwise.
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.