notes | urban acupuncture.01

Urban Acupuncture-A methodology for the Sustainable Rehabiliation of “Society Buildings” in Vancouver’s Chinatown into Contemporary Housing

Urban acupuncture focuses on the selective redevelopment of appropriate sites within the historic fabric. It carefully removes what isn’t working and inserts a contemporary, appropriate intervention to stimulate urban regeneration. By capitalizing on its unique cultural assets, Chinatown can differentiate itself and set an example for a sensitive yet contemporary approach to historic community regeneration and the development of contemporary housing scenarios. Urban acupuncture has four major characteristics:

1.Urban acupuncture grows out of interdisciplinary collaboration and research.
2.Urban acupuncture sees building form as multi-dimensional, not reduced only to the facade
3. Urban acupuncture supports diverse programs
Diversity is the key to a viable, resilient community. Decisions should be made that support long-term diversity and sustainability.
4.Urban acupuncture encourages the coexistance of a contmporary layer
The urban fabric embodies collective memory. Intergenerational responsibility connotes that what is present will one day become history.

Narrating Urban Acupuncture[s] – Barbel Muller

These “points”/”waypoints”/”acupuncture points” exist in time and space. They operate relationally and reactively, and induce radiating effects with minimal gestures. Thereby, they create networks of characteristic energy levels with catalytic effects on the urban fabric. Primarily of a commercial nature, they are located in the programmatic field between production and consumption. Artists and architects increasingly conceptualize and apply corresponding strategies, not for commercial purposes, but in order to generate new social and artistic space(s). They either leave behind the institutional framework for political, economic, and idealogical reasons, or create a new framework where there has been no place for (contemporary) art and urban culture thus far. By means of (mostly small-scale) spatial, temporal, and programmatic interventions, urban space is activated and transformed. Urban actors -artists, audiences, and residents, respectively- are stimnulated and empowered to experience and reflect their city differently. Cities are among the most complex organizational entities we know of. Cities are fields of dynamic forces– cultural, socioeconomic organisms, and heterogneuous, multilayered systems that are constantly changing. “Cohabiation, with all its conveniences and accompanied by all its struggles, has for centuries been the main purpose of the construction of cities.”(Wiezman:2008) “Cities are organized primarily around flows that are the main reason why they exist: Cities are place of exchange where people, services, and goods are collected and distributed in a multitude of flows. This also shows a predominatly liquid nature of urbanity that is charactized more by the process than by the territory they organize and are organized by at the same time.”(Zettl 2007) The vectors in this net, waypoints in this field, or acupuncture points in this organism call a city – however one prefers to conceptualize it – often manifest themselves spatially in the form of small-scale appropriations of urban space. Examples of this can include the girl with a bowl full of plantain chips on one of Accra’s highways during the afternoon rush hour, a parasol/table mobile phone card shop installed next to a church on Sundays in central Kumasi, the boy with an icebox on a plastic chair full of not-so-cool “sucre” next to the entrance of the Academie des Beaux Arts in Kinshasa–these “way points” or “acupuncture points’ operate in time and space, relationally and reacticely, and induce radiating effects with minimal gestures. Acupunctures by its very definition “is a technique of inserting and manipulating fine needles into specific points on the body to relieve pain or for therapeutic purposes. According to traditional Chinese medical theory, acupuncture points are situated on meridioins along with qi, the vital energy, flows”(Wikipedia 2009)”Each juncture has it own flavour, and thus its own unique abililty to affect the meridian and the terrain of the body as a whole. It is the job of the acupunctures, not just to memorize where each point lies, but to become intimately acqquainted with the psirit of the point. It is only then that he or she can call on the point for specific and appropriate help in transforming the energy that sustain and determines the physical body.”(Sax 2009)
…the designation of structuers as static or dynamic, permanent or temporary, formal or informal, becomes obsolete. The sharp division into private and public domains, and the clear distinction between interior and exterior space, are not suitable anymore. The organisation and conception of spaces relies much more on nuances than on polarities, moving through the psectrum between the poles. Mono-funcitonal space is hardly to be found, multi-programmed spaces, places, and field prevail. Intsead of restrictive mechanism, the organisational and phsyical framework is of a more elastic, permeable, decentralized, and net-like nature.
…three types of space-generating strategies were applied: the revitalization of abandoned structures, the creation of new, permanent structure, and the creation of temporary or ephermeral spaces –all
with the aim of creating radiating and healing effects on the respective contesxts as well as on the entire city.

Urban Acupuncture:

What is urban acupuncture?
How can urban acupuncture be applied to a city?

1. Urban acupuncture aims into a touch with the collective psyche of the city. The collective psyche is reflected through collective conscious which is striving towards the absolute, the real reality.
The theory of the urban acupuncture celebrates the possibility of a light-weight touch with a total impact. Total is a fragment of the absolute. Through urban acupuncture the absolute finds a way to reflect in the city.
Urban acupuncture is ruining the industrial surface of the built human environment. Ruin is when man-made has become part of nature. A weed will root into the smallest crack in the asphalt and eventually break the city. Urban acupuncture is the weed and the acupuncture point is the crack. The possibility of the impact is total, connecting human nature as part of nature.
As the city reflects control and strenght the urban acupuncture has to be weak in order to break the machine. In its direction towards the truth the weak architecture and weak art is the sister of theology and philosophy, but faster: weak art meets the absolute immediately; it is free from the philosophical discussion or the theological belief. Weak architecture is art. Art don´t need to believe and don´t need to discuss – it can not help being itself. There is no excuse for art, art reflects the absolute.The collective mind generates the social drama that keeps the city alive. People are ruining their build human environment by being themselves. The third generation city is the ruin of the industrial city. The third generation city is part of nature. Urban acupuncture is aiming to the third generation city.

2. Urban acupuncture can be applied to an existing city through art. The true environmental art in the urban context is urban acupuncture. Architecture is environmental art. Urban planning is the process of ruining the city. Weak artist and weak architect is a design-shaman interpreting what the bigger shared mind is transmitting.

3. The complexities of the city are either working to support life or against nature.The idea of the industrial city is to be autonomous from nature. This autonomity is the source of pollution. Pollution is real, it is part of nature – city is not real.What is real is valuable: what is not real is not valuable. Urban acupuncture connects the public to the real reality through small scale interventions. Nothing is taken away and nothing heavy is added to the city organism, but the present state of being is realized as part of the process of rottening and being ruined. Ruin is not a product, it is a process. City must be a compost. Urban acupuncture is turning the urban compost to fruitful top-soil.

Narrating Urban acupunctures[s] – Barbel Muller
Urban Acupuncture


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