||The core value of “dehors” suggests the “fold” and turnover of the subject-induced space. Dehors initiates the thinking apparatus - it brings forth a kind of destructive construction as well as an endless search. This design research is thereby based on the “dehors thinking” which aims to deconstruct the forged ideology of the structured subject and explore how the interplay of subjective thinking, “thick description” of the studied site, and philosophical theories can precipitate an alternative landscape analysis. The relatively liberal design paradigm of dehors recognizes the ambiguity of physical and narrative boundaries, and often implies cross-disciplinary and cross-border transgressions. It further challenges the rational procedure of design intervention, and liberates the preconceptions of the trained professionals in planning and design.
The chosen site for the design operation is located at an alluvial area prohibited from construction, due to the metropolitan flood control restrictions, for more than 30 years in Shihlin District, Taipei: Shei Ji Islet. The once islet of Shei Ji is now connected to the city with infill - a peninsula characterized as a modern-city heterotopia endowed with marginal obsolescence as well as frontier vitality where generic landscape and indigenous landscape juxtapose each other. The power of differences is usually the source of such vitality, which is ironically stemmed from a lagging behind vast development and rapid urbanization of the capitol city. The mere existence of Shei Ji becomes a direct critique towards the globalizing zeal of the capitalist city. The “exteriority” (being out there) of Shei Ji is often perceived as an undifferentiated whole or as a dike zone built to protect the city from flood; yet the “boundary” itself is in reality a collection of many traditional farming villages (each with its own worshiped deity) inter-mingled with illegal factories and transitional industrial shacks. The residents of Shei-Ji, though misconceived as a group of misfortunes, not only are divided into a variety of sub-area communities with complex social relations, but also continue to search their own identities in constantly shifting conditions. They are “conditioned” by many external forces, but they evolve into a heterogeneous urban community regardless of any development rules and rational modes of planning. Shei-Ji is not a place of conscious resistance, and it ambiguously co-exists with the city through daily life adaptations and seemingly endless waiting. The mundane practices of everyday life in SheiJi manifest the tension between grassroots self-adaptations/transgressions and rational planning controls - thus the intertextuality within.
Being an outsider myself, I intend to keep the distance with my research subjects and record my own conditions of alienation and rejection. Loaded with predetermined values and theories, I hoped to track down my own transformation and struggles as well as how the landscape design process can be influenced by exogenous philosophical thinking and filed experiences.
This thesis is accordingly divided into two parts: the first part starts with the discussions of dehors thinking of heterotopias, followed by my reflections on the impact of modern urban planning in a site like Shei-Ji; and the second part reveals my attempt to construct a dialogue between my subjective observations and thinking and the realities and local knowledge of the site. My own design interventions are based on the dialogue and a short film about Shei-Ji, and the set of the operation methods can be seen as a part of the design methodology when the dehors thinking is introduced to the field of landscape planning and design. Simply put, transgressions not only happen at physical boundaries, and the preconditioned boundaries between the planning and design professionals, the city in general, the studied landscape, and the local community must also be recognized to induce further dialogue and liberations. Through thick descriptions, the deficiencies of rational planning in the dimension of deep understanding and psychoanalysis of the local can somehow be mitigated. We can therefore better appreciate and value the power of the collective, the power of the organic, the power of the in-between, and the power of the narrative in a heterotopia associated with repression, disarticulation, rupture, frontier, margin, and anarchic order.