Urban Acupuncture is an urban environmentalism theory that combines urban design with the traditional Chinese medical practice of acupuncture. Acupuncture relieves stress in the body, urban acupuncture relieves stress in the environment.
As a design methodology, it uses tactical, small-scale interventions within the existing urban fabric, aiming to create ripple effects and transformation on the larger urban organism.
Sites for Urban Acupuncture are selected through an aggregate analysis of social, economic, and ecological factors, and developed through a dialogue between designers and the community. Through the acupuncture points, Urban Acupuncture seeks to be in contact with the site-specific Local Knowledge.
This strategy views cities as living, breathing organisms and pinpoints areas in need of repair. Sustainable projects, then, serve as needles that revitalize the whole by healing the parts. Urban acupuncture produces small-scale but socially catalytic interventions into the urban fabric.
The idea for urban acupuncture came from the 2001 Yokohama Triennale.
When I came to Yokohama, birds defecated. Birds used to spread seeds - they drop them to the ground; seeds root and plants grew. This cycle of dispersal was interrupted.
I decided to make this sequence of events into an art exhibition – this was the beginning of "archi-puncture".
An architectonic installation for the third Yokohama Triennial of Contemporary Art 2001 in Yokohama, Japan, curated by Fumio Nanjo.
Treasure Hill is a high-density settlement of urban farmers in Taipei, Taiwan. When I discovered it in 2002, it was illegal and already under the process of demolition by the city government.
What seemed to me pretty striking was the fact that this illegal settlement had many of the values, that the official city had commissioned me to introduce for the modern Taipei: the urban farmers were filtering their grey waters, they were cultivating passive solar houses like their gardens on the hillside, they composted their organic waste and used a minimal amount of electricity - no TVs but a collective small cinema. No cars. The urban nomads produced their own food and harvested the surrounding city from what it called waste.
I changed my program so, that I stopped the demolition process of Treasure Hill and actually started to rebuild the destroyed connections and restored their farms. Treasure Hill was changed into a laboratory of environmentally sustainable urban living in Taipei. Officially the settlement is legalized as part of a public environmental artwork.
Treasure Hill in Taipei is where urban acupuncture was practised.
Ruin Academy is a school established using abandoned buildings. Here, we avoided large-scale urban renewal projects and adopted a more local and community approach, which we believe can democratically and inexpensively provide comfort to urban dwellers in an era of constrained budgets and resources.
Combining environmentalism and urban design, we are developing ways to manipulate urban energy flows over time in order to create ecologically sustainable urban development for so-called third-generation cities (post-industrial cities).
Bug Dome is a project that combines the theory of urban acupuncture and participatory planning. It shows that it is possible for the citizens to be involved in a project all the way from planning to the execution stage.
The Bug Dome structure has been realized on the site of an abandoned building between Shenzhen City Hall and an illegal work camp. The bamboo-based construction method was brought to the city by migrant construction workers and it is based on their local knowledge from rural areas.
The Bug Dome was the result of discussions between Marco Casagrande,
Hsieh Ying-chun and Roan Ching-yueh.