Located in a prime location in the city of Taipei, the invaluable large open space at the Taiwan Contemporary Culture Lab (C-LAB) is historically significant as it used to be home to the Industrial Research Institute of the Taiwanese Governor-General’s Office and also the Air Force Command Headquarters under the Ministry of National Defense. Since the Ministry of Culture took over its operations in 2018, C-LAB has become a place for art and cultural experimentation, with various participatory events and actions initiated and reflections and imaginations for contemporary urban space and lifestyle projected.
Launched by C-LAB in 2019, “Urban Mining Trilogy” is based on the concept of circular economy, and with the city seen as a mine, the program begins with urban mining studies and research and development on upgrading circular materials. With materials obtained from the dismantlement of C-LAB’s outer walls, the construction waste’s life cycle is further explored, with the objective of recycling and reusing available resources.
The program kick-starts with the “Urban Mining Project” and conducts quantitative estimations on the “mineral products” available from the architecture on the C-LAB park, with the building's concrete, brick, steel, aluminum, and glass content analyzed. The quantification of the mineral products is done with the objective of establishing a “Construction Material Bank” in the future, which will provide an inventory of different types of urban minerals, with materials, components, modules, systems, and architectural levels included. Furthermore, new “cradle-to-cradle” spatial planning is also to be explored through different methods of repurposing and reusing.
The “Circular Materials R&D Project” focuses on recycling the largest “mine source” – the red bricks - on the C-LAB park into new construction materials. Applying the alkali activator technology offered by National Cheng Kung University’s C-Hub as the foundation of the project, a participatory workshop is organized to provide hands-on experiences to the participants, where they learn to incorporate various unique materials collected from the C-LAB park into a base made with red brick powder to create dozens of pastes made with circular materials that are unique to the site. With many different formulas concocted through collaborating with the general public, the data gathered will become important information referenced for the next phase of the program - the “Experimental Architecture Project.”
With a foundation based on urban mining and circular materials, the “Experimental Architecture Project” is to be led by Design & Make Organization (DMO), an interdisciplinary group that specializes in digital design and practical construction integration. The project aims to reuse the discarded red bricks from the dismantled walls around C-LAB. With the guard post and three old trees located at the southwest corner of C-LAB turned into the project’s experimentation site, experts from the fields of spatial planning and construction are invited to collaborate with the general public. With the original walls partially preserved, sustainable circular techniques are applied with historical cultural assets conserved. The objective is to create a spot where walls are pushed down and gatherings and activities could take place, with spatially and temporally significant interactions engaged within the city and new meaning generated for this urban corner.
Through the interdisciplinary collaborations in the “Urban Mining Trilogy”, C-LAB seeks to become a platform where professional knowledge on technology, material, design, and construction could be exchanged, and new creative approaches, methods, and theories could be developed. The projects in the trilogy are presented in the form of an “Architecture Lab” on view in Circulation, a sub-category in the C-LAB thematic exhibition, City Flip-Flop. Bringing together experimental construction with space at C-LAB and looking to future regeneration, curiosities and imaginings for the city’s past, present, and future are sparked, prompting further progress towards creating a circular city.
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