Introduction to Micro-Urbanism
chi ti nan
War is the father of all things and the king over all.
- Heraclitus, 500 BC

Modern cities have reached unprecedented complexity in the 20th century, especially in a new generation of booming mega-cities fuelled by advanced technology since the 70's.We are now witnessing the formal structures of cities, which were taken for granted in the past, being gradually blurred or erased by fast investment and blunt development on a global level. Unexpected destructions have also occurred through natural disasters or speculative attacks. Urban planning and urban design as guiding tools appear to be nearly irrelevant in controlling cities where capital driven urban forms coexist with pre-modern and post-modern conditions.

Today most cities contain patchworks of different physical structures and socio-cultural situations. The sense of congeniality that was once taken for granted has already been lost, even in old-core urban areas. A hasty agglomeration of spectacles continues in the blind pursuit of prosperity, while indigenous and informal building activities that assert human existence and common pleasures are being destroyed. The public can find much at fault with years of careless planning but at the same time no one is quite sure how to break this vicious circle.

To examine the city from a macro-scale level is no longer effective when current chaotic phenomena are often illegible, and even more misleading under formal analyses pertaining to plastic purity. Likewise, form-finding attempts to simulate the irregular complexity, whether through manual collage or computational generation, fail to take account of what's actually going on inside of this confusion. We have seen efforts to invent or resurrect dominant forms, to demonstrate heroic rectifications, to reinforce the regulations, to freeze the historical areas and so on; all in order to cover up the so-called urban 'disease'.

Micro-urbanism came out of a shifting paradigm of city and philosophy, which suggests there are internal realities to be investigated in order to describe how things interact and coordinate in the micro-scale realm,and which manifest the true spirit of a city and its people. Each city has a particular constitution of microcosms in relation to both natural environment and existing urban conditions, which are more vital and up-to-date than the conventional urban structure in terms of indicating the directions of contemporary urban development.

Architects not only need to work within these inner systems but also to integrate in-situ strategies and tactics with micro-zones in order to propel the self-healing potential that has been forgotten and dumped in the cultural politics of design.The biosocial organism of complexity comprises not only repetitive routines or grass roots collective motivations, but also a steaming plasma of conflicts and re-actions, the everyday life that tests the limits of a densely populated environment. The plot in which people survive is not within a rational state but more in a kind of plasmodial living condition, as close observations generally have revealed.