Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Taiwanese Urban Architecture

Here's something about the architecture here in Taiwan.
Along virtually all major roads, the second floor of buildings overhangs the first floor by a couple of meters and is supported by columns, creating what is essentially an outer sidewalk (a regular sidewalk, along the street) and an inner sidewalk (partially sheltered from the wind and rain).
In many places the street-facing portion of the sidewalk is crowded with parked motor scooters (and occasionally motor scooters in motion) and the "interior" portion is an extension of the business on the ground floor. Add teeming urban crowds to that mix and you get a challenging situation for an ordinary pedestrian trying to walk quickly.
Overall it's not so much that I find this architecture remarkable as that it can be found everywhere here - in Taipei and in Tainan both, so that buildings that don't have the overhanging 2nd floor/divided sidewalk arrangement are the exception. Is this common in the rest of southern China and in Southeast Asia? It's such a universal architectural feature here (and I've never seen it anywhere else) so I'm curious.

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