Beyond the hegemony of concrete and iron, if we dig a little, we can find in Taiwan a great diversity of cultures, which is reflected in the vernacular architectures. Creativity is another strength of Taiwanese people. How do they keep their heritage alive? What alternative ways of building and living are they inventing nowadays using natural materials? What are the backgrounds and motivations of those who build with natural materials in Taiwan?
In Taiwan, natural building often comes with sweat but also joy ! Traditionally, helping each other was one of the cardinal principles for building. We can also find this state of mind nowadays in collaborative volunteering projects and in workshops.
Soil artificialization is one of the main causes of the decline of biodiversity, while the production of concrete and steel consumes a lot of energy and contributes to global warming. Many buildings are no longer inhabited in Taiwan and materials can be reused, so renovation and recycling are important issues!
More and more Taiwanese are building earthen ovens, which is an opportunity to organize collaborative building activities, to share good time around meals, and to take first steps in natural building!
In Taiwan, Minnan (originating from Fujian province in China) and Austronesian Indigenous architectures have at least one thing in common: the use of bamboo for walls or framework, and thatch for roofing. Bamboo is also one of the favorite materials of contemporary Taiwanese architects who wish to give an aesthetic dimension to their work.
Helping each other to build or renovate using natural materials is part of permaculture design, practiced and taught in Taiwan by several organizations. Good news: in 2024, Taiwan will host the next International Permaculture Convergence!
Taiwan is a land of cultural diversity: Austronesian Indigenous peoples, traditions originating in the Chinese province of Fujian or developed locally, Japanese influence, etc. The common grounds of these vernacular architectures are the use of local materials, mutual assistance and the search for harmony with nature.
Beyond architecture and the choice of materials, natural building also means to rethink our way of life and our relationship with nature and other beings. In this section, you can discover the paths of many inspiring people!