Taiwan Academy: Rooftop Urbanism

Los Angeles, California 2018

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Rooftop Urbanism

Taipei and Los Angeles both experience shortages of residential and commercial supplies to meet the growing demands of rent and purchase. This deficit has resulted in a high cost of living, creating a sense of discomfort caused by the unaffordability of architecture. As a result, many citizens of both places have generated a natural response to this problem: add more architecture to the properties they already own, and increase the quantity of supply to meet the demand. Although this economic solution sounds simple enough, there are varying degrees of bureaucratic gymnastics in both cities that one must reckon with. The Weijian (literally, “illegal construction”) is a practice in which many property owners resolve the housing or commercial shortage by building buildings on top of buildings. Not dissimilar to Los Angeles, the complex and confusing legal process causes citizens to either misunderstand or outright omit the permitting process. This story raises many questions about the status of legality in the creation of architecture and reveals socio-political ramifications of additive architecture.