Passive Space Remake

Taipei City, the capital of Taiwan, is the convergence of capitals, opportunities, vitalities, and urban life. Like many other capital cities, Taipei’s living cost is higher than average of the nation, including the cost of owning a piece of land. Given the city’s rather long history of development, Taipei’s urban fabric has grown organically and complicated, accompanied with modern issues like aging buildings, unclear land and property ownerships, etc.

If you happened to have lived in Taipei, you might agreed that, on one hand, it is luxurious and costly to own a space in the city, while on the other hand, many of its urban space were, in fact, underutilized or passively used. The contradiction made us wonder, perhaps the space in downtown Taipei were not insufficient, but ineffectively distributed. We need to ask questions like: are the urban space in their best use? where are space that need improvement? and how might we better use them?

Mapping the “Passive Area” of downtown Taipei

To define what makes a “passive space”, we break it down to three aspects: Inactive Area, Low Accessibility, and Negative Factors.

Inactive Area (shown in blue) indicates area that were less popular and with little human activity. Some are periodically inactive such as off-hour office districts, evening marketplaces, nighttime school campus, etc. ; some are constant inactive, such like construction sites and parking lots. On the map, the darker the blue, the more inactive the place is.

Low Accessibility (shown in green) means area hard to get to via public transit. Here we highlighted area outside 500 meters radius from every MRT stations and 250 meters from YouBike stations. One can easily tell from the map, some area such as Min-Sheng Community and Wan-Hua District were poor accessible from public transit. (The map didn’t considered bus routes due to calculation complexity)

The third type (shown in red) is the Negative Factors, which includes noise pollution, bad hygiene condition, old buildings(over 40 years), and crime report locations. These are the factors that we think are likely to drive people away and make the neighborhood less popular.

Overlaying the three altogether, one can see the “passiveness” of downtown Taipei. The darker the areas, the more passive they are. See the interactive map

However, a city doesn’t have to be 24 hrs active everywhere. Our cities are ‘zoned’ into different functionalities, some are designated for governments, some are for purely business, some are for residential housings, and some are mixed use, etc. The ones we need to prioritized in terms of “space revitalization”, are those that are passive, and also highly populated by residence.

Revitalizing passive space in high density neighborhoods

Among neighborhoods which population densities are higher than average (30,000 people/ sq. km), we chose a few identical ones for further examination. By comparing each neighborhood’s land-use percentage, demographic proportion, types of passiveness, and present condition of vacant parcels, we can suggest better alternatives to stimulate the area. And since we were using city’s demographic censor data, highly populated areas that stood out were all residential areas.

For underutilized land or empty houses in such neighborhoods, community-oriented facilities could be introduced such as community workshop, shared garden, co-dining place for elderlies, or temporary facilities like public library or flee markets could be held in place.

Revitalizing passive space nearby MRT stations

As illustrated above, we used censor data to sort out the passive neighborhoods that needed to be improved. However, the static demographic data doesn’t reflect the actual dynamic flow of people during different time of the city. So far there’s no perfect way to know the exact number of people in an hourly division, but there are ways to estimate it, mass transportation data is one of them.

Here we used MRT data— the most commonly adopted transportation tool in downtown Taipei—to discuss the alternatives for passive space around the MRT stations. By subtracting the numbers of passengers arrival with passengers departure, we got the “ hourly net increase” of population which each MRT station brought to its serving area, which we defined as 500 meter radius coverage.

During morning peak hours (6-10am), when commuters surging from outer periphery of Taipei into downtown, we can see some stations brought in large amount of people into the area, some even reached a nineteen thousand increase in population (eg. Songjian-Nanjing); whereas some led to several thousand population increase during the evening peak hours (5-8pm).

By further examining on each station’s land-use proportion and major facilities, we could speculate the characteristics of the increased people and their purpose coming into the area. Alternatives for passive space in those areas could then be suggested accordingly. For example, during daytime, passive space nearby high-increase-population MRT stations could consider temporary programs like food vendors or markets that could potentially capture the flow of commuters; while for those populated area in the evening, we could consider more leisure or recreational program such as outdoor theater or food trucks.


The definition and visual presentation of passive space in this project was, in a large degree, subjective. Details as different factors’ weigh and effecting radius may require more logical or academical reference. However, the main goal of the project was to showcase a new way of thinking urban space from a more sensational aspect and also backed up with quantifiable and critical facts such as population flows, demographics, and land-use. The outcome itself became more of a common language for people with various knowledge to discuss, and to develop further upon.

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