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Yilan to represent Taiwan architecture at Venice Biennial
Yilan to represent Taiwan architecture at Venice Biennial

“Living in Yilan – Connecting Mountains, Sea, and Land” has been chosen as the theme of the 2018 Taiwan Pavilion for the 16th Venice Biennial of Architecture.

Director Hsiao Tsung-huang (蕭宗煌) of the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts (NTMoFA) noted that the theme, which was proposed by the Taiwan Alliance for ArchModernity (台灣現代建築學會), echoes the challenge of next year’s Biennial – Freespace.

Comprising architects Tseng Chen-de (曾成德), Roan Ching-yue (阮慶岳), and Huang Chien-min (黃健敏), the jury panel selected award-winning architect Huang Sheng-yuan (黃聲遠) and his team Fieldoffice (田中央工作群) out of ten teams to represent Taiwan at the Biennial. 

Chosen by curators Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara of the Biennial, “Freespace” hopes to interpret the cultural and humanistic values of architecture. The concept emphasizes the interconnectivity between humans and landscapes, and highlights open resources such as light, wind, and water that are provided by nature.

Tseng stated that the design by Huang and the Fieldoffice echoes the essence of “Freespace” as it brings out Taiwan’s open resources and highlights the dialogues between human and landscapes created by architecture. Moreover, each edifice has developed a relationship with natural elements such as light, wind, water, and flora in the environment. 

Roan called Huang “representative of post-war Taiwan architecture,” as his design forges a strong connection between time and history and embraces humanism. Moreover, Huang’s projects focus on the ties between landscapes and people and touch upon contemporary issues.

The Taiwan Pavilion will be jointly curated by Taiwanese architect Wang Jun-xiong (王俊雄) and Finnish architect Juhani Pallasmaa. Inspired by the eastern county of Yilan, the pavilion will explore the “free city” manifesto issued by Huang in 2003.

“Free city” is the core experience of the Fieldoffice, and Huang uses Yilan as a base for realizing his vision of a free city. Huang moved to Yilan in 1994 and established the Fieldoffice to develop architectural projects incorporating local natural resources.

Huang believes that every person is a free individual while every space is a free place, and that they all face the challenges of globalization. The Fieldoffice creates spaces through incorporating public resources, open landscapes, and community participation. Their design presents the aesthetic of “creating venues through lifestyle,” which focuses on public sharing of resources and spaces.    

During the past two decades, the Fieldoffice has created more than 50 venues that are developed from experiences in the architects’ everyday lives instead of constructed merely by following architectural concepts.

Huang’s design has drawn the world’s attention for its ability to connect people with the culture and landscapes of Yilan. He also received a number of awards, including Japan’s Yosizaka Takamasa Award.

To interpret the notion of “free city,” founder Lin Sheng-feng (林聖峰) of Atelier Or (嶼山設計) was also invited to participate in curating Taiwan Pavilion, which will showcase images and models of Huang’s design.

A total of three concepts, including Taiwan’s unique semi-outdoor scaffolding, the “Vascular Project (維管束計畫),” and “Return to the Land” will explore the  meaning of public life, sustainable city, and the connection between death and land to reflect the Biennial challenge of “Freespace.”

Additional documentary footage recording Huang and the Fieldoffice’s creative process by filmmaker Jiang Guo-liang (江國梁) will be screened to offer insights on how they brought the architectural concept of free city to life in Yilan.

The 2018 Venice Biennial of Architecture will take place from May 26 through Oct. 25 next year.


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From left to right: NTMOFA Director Hsiao Tsung-huang (蕭宗煌), jury member Roan Ching-yue (阮慶岳), Atelier Or's Lin Sheng-feng (林聖峰), award-winning architect Huang Sheng-yuan (黃聲遠), curator Wang Jun-xiong (王俊雄), and jury members Tseng Chen-de (曾成德) and Huang Chien-min (黃健敏).
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