Urban acupuncture refers to small scale, low cost, bottom up design interventions which affect the cityscape in meaningful ways. One example are the community gardens in Taipei. These urban farms have sprung up on run down and abandoned sites, essentially anything that declares itself unproductive for the modernisation plan of the city council.
Treasure Hill is one of many urban farming situations that arose from anarchist grounds, through locals getting together and taking care of the garden by sharing farming knowledge with each other. In 2007, the Taipei city council decided to turn it into an artist village, together with local NGOs and an architecture group led by Marco Casagrande, who is championing the concept of urban acupuncture. Many of the residents were evacuated and protests were organised against this renovation, but soon the former community of KMT (Kuomintang Nationalists) veterans, illegal foreign workers and artists dispersed and the area is now known as a hub for artists and art-related organisations, being featured in the New York Times as a “must see location”. Even if in Casagrande's plans, the original state of the village was meant to be preserved, the question arises: what was the need for the architect in the first place other than to legitimize and thus make the area marketable through his signature? We begin with this cautionary tale to highlight the friction between civil interventions and institutional interventions.
Very often the case of Treasure Hill is given as a successful example of urban acupuncture.