Architect Po Wei LAI has worked overseas for many years. It took leaving Taiwan for him to realize what makes Taiwan so unique.
LAI observed how the baths scattered throughout ancient Rome reflected the desires of the ancient Romans. Upon returning to Taiwan, the architect noted the small temples on every corner and the even bigger temples just a few paces ahead. These temples surround us in our everyday lives. We are able to squeeze temples into the cracks and crevices between urban architecture, under freeway overpasses, or even between major expressways. These temples use ubiquitous, polytheistic, pervasive, and wondrous adaptation techniques to form parasitic relationships with the urban environment. They also embody the desires of the Taiwanese.
Just how many of these parasitic temples are there? Po Wei LAI and his team, Willipodia, spent seven years recording 108 types of parasitic temples. The team explored the relationship between the temple, the city, and the natural environment from an architectural perspective while simultaneously creating a 3D graphic record and analytic charts. LAI Po Wei especially notes that, “The nature of this phenomenon isn’t really important. What’s important is the phenomenon itself.” Much like how Up the River During Qingming is a record that gives us a sense of the urban environment in the Song capital of Bianliang, Parasitic Temples is significant in that the book records the lifestyles of the Taiwanese in the contemporary urban environments of Taiwan.