Taipei Walled City

Taipei flood gates
An open flood gate in Wànhuá District 萬華區, Taipei. Note the elevated highway above, the city to the left, and an unseen river off camera to the right.

Taipei 台北 is a walled city. The walls were built to keep the river out. They also serve as the foundation for a system of elevated highways that span the city. I find them to be one of the most intriguing features of the urban landscape—but they are also abhorrent on some level, insulating the city from the natural world. In recent decades the city has attempted to redeem the river by lining it with extensive parklands and bicycle paths but the result is about the same: an unnatural order has been imposed on the world beyond the wall.

The wall is punctuated by a series of smaller evacuation gates and larger flood gates like the one pictured here. Several of these flood gates are open to vehicular traffic to alleviate congestion within the wall. One must ask—what flood do these gates protect against? The polluted river wastes or the endless sea of human and machine parts?

For further reading I highly recommend starting with Taipei From The River by Marco Casagrande and continuing with the Taipei, Water City issue of eRenlai Magazine.