The Bartlett School of Architecture


Bartlett Research Conversations: Te-Chen Lu

13 December 2022, 5:30 pm–7:00 pm

Stone house in taiwan

PhD student Te-Chen Lu discusses their research into the knowledge systems and practice of slate house-building as a strategy for politics of identity and cultural revitalisation by Kacalisian indigenous groupings in southern Taiwan.

This event is free.

Event Information

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The Bartlett School of Architecture


Room G.12
22 Gordon Street
United Kingdom

‘Living House’ in the Present Age: The Changing History of Indigenous Self-builders and the Slate Culture among the Kacalisian in Southern Taiwan since the 1980s

Speaker: Te-Chen Lu
Supervisors: Dr Clare Melhuish (UCL Urban Lab) and Dr Ludovic Coupaye (UCL Anthropology)
Guest panellist: Prof Tim Waterman from The Bartlett School of Architecture


This research explores how the self-builders of Kacalisian (the Paiwan and Rukai) indigenous groupings in southern Taiwan utilise their knowledge systems and practices of slate house-building as strategies for politics of identity and cultural revitalisation, in the context of an ongoing returning homeland movement. Following the viewpoint of ‘technodiversity’ studies in the anthropology of technics (Hui 2020), and as a counter-narrative to established understandings of the vernacular in architecture, the research moves between the closer scale of body techniques of constructing and inhabiting, and localised experience to the macrocosmic relationship between ‘slate culture’ and the wider social/environmental milieu, in order to provide a critical contribution to the study of Austronesian house societies as living heritage in the present age. This research will partake in and document the complete construction process of a slate house via ethnographic film and chaîne opératoire together with the Paiwan artisan families in Piuma community, Pingtung County.

About The Bartlett Research Conversations

The Bartlett School of Architecture’s Research Conversations seminars comprise work-in-progress and upgrade presentations by students undertaking the Architectural Design MPhil/PhD and Architectural and Urban History and Theory MPhil/PhD. All current UCL staff and students are welcome to attend.

Held regularly throughout the academic year, the seminars are attended by the programme directors, Professor Jonathan Hill and Professor Sophia Psarra, PhD Coordinators, Dr. Nina Vollenbröker and Dr Sophie Read, and other PhD supervisors.

Image: Mavaliv chief house in Piuma. Built in 1982 under the guidance of Ljavuras Kadrangian (credit: Ljavuras Kadrangian).