Document Type

Thesis, Senior




Fall 2018


illegal building additions, Taipei, 'adaptive joint framework', inhabitant building, 'design cities', reframe regulatory public and private status, fire lane






In Taipei, more than 70% of buildings are older than 30 years. 1 The rate of illegal additions to existing buildings (wei zhang jian zhu) in Taipei is over ten percent.2 Excluding legal issues, illegal construction can potentially lead to significant safety issues. As a response, the Taiwan government is undergoing demolitions on illegal additions throughout the city. In recent years, the number of demolished building additions has surpassed the number of that being constructed. Despite this radical effort, Taipei city is finding that illegal additions continue to be a mainstream practice.3 Illegal additions and the issue of renovating old buildings highlight the vitality and dynamism of the Taipei, but also shows its risks. Illegal additions reduce the resiliency of the city, as a whole, to natural disasters such as typhoons, earthquakes, and building hazards. While the building code requires structural reinforcement, fire escapes, and resistant materials, illegal additions will typically not comply; Instead, the intentions of the additions are focused on increasing space through the use of inexpensive and temporary materials. This thesis seeks to revisit the role of illegal additions in order to satisfy government regulations while providing new freedoms and opportunities for building inhabitants and the city’s aesthetic identity. Specifically, it investigates how an “adaptive joint framework” can leverage current code regulations in order to provide resilient structural reinforcement and safety, allow new spaces to emerge within the seams of the urban fabric, and create new freedoms that were previously challenging under current policies. Making use of the government's intention to promote urban renewal opportunities, improve the beauty of urbanscape and enhance disaster resilience could be implemented simultaneously, which presents a design opportunity. However, from my perspective, typical urban renewal goes the result of “Creative Cities” or “Design Cities” that radically reduce the creativity of the city because of the design consistency through the entire city. If we look back to the feature of the old building and illegal addition together in Taipei. People are adding into the building’s total area and utility without comprehensive planning or through structural and safety considerations. Illegal additions to old buildings exacerbates the public health and safety concerns. The largest number of buildings in Taipei are four stories high double sided apartments, and three stories shop houses be connected by the continuous arcade.4 All illegal additions can be sorted into three categories: (1) penthouse additions; (2) window extensions; and (3) arcade occupancy. These additions are typically tacked onto the building’s facade and roof as needed. For example, a rooftop area can be turned into a semi-outdoor clothesline area or a new residential unit, the window extension could be turn into a small farm and the arcade on the first floor be occupied by a semi-outdoor restaurant. In this study can see a house being inflated by illegal additions throughout the time. On the other hand, the illegal addition occupied the back side of the building. Deconstruct the entire block as pure massing will find the small fire lane all be occupied by illegal additions. The fire lane only appears with the old building which was following the old building code. The space for fire lane usually be remained from one to six meters wide. Fire lane space provides an opportunity for the “adaptive joint framework”, which not only addresses space needs of building inhabitants, but has potential for urban renewal and structural improvement. Here is a regulatory loophole. Current ground condition arcades are built by private entities but inhabit public domain -- As long as the physical built structure does not inhibit the pedestrian right of way and provides a “fire exit” per city code, it is legally allowed to be constructed; Private expenditure in this case is afforded permission under the guise of ‘supporting’ the public domain. As such, the construction of a so-called “illegal addition” can in fact be made legal through a re-framing of its regulatory public and private status. This provides the opportunity for this project to intervene.


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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.

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