In contemporary Taiwan, “The Fieldoffice Architects" rooted in the landscape of Yilan is an “alliance of gathered will" of nearly a hundred people’s size that is growing and expanding steadily. It has gradually come to form through 20 years of seeking truth in the way of living. Because of its natural formation and genuine intentions, this way of living has unexpectedly become one of the common choices of the young generation when pursuing the ideal of “creating a newly-found local life through professional integration!”
Please pardon us for not being able to systematically, structurally, and distinctively present our exhibition, for all of the events overlapped upon one another, and are still in a continual state of progression and revision.
Thus in line with Gallery MA’s spatial qualities that change with daylight, we attempt to use four “afterthoughts" in telling our story with such a fluid and disarrayed manner so to restore and share our moments of hardships as well as joy along the way.
The first afterthought is called “Time as Friend."
It is a story of a young man who fled to America in 1989 to seek new possibilities in response to his living society but failed, then fled back to Taiwan and settled in Yilan. Inspired by the unique climate condition, geography, mythology, history and rebellious spirits of this land, he has slowly realized that Taiwan’s democratic nature has always been very much alive, that as long as the young generation is free from the restraints of specialization, they could start from every possible corner and freely search for, or even contribute to, their own client or clientele, select resources and work together leisurely to create a collaborative working spirit of discipline. (The unmodified groups of original working models presented in this exhibition are most evident, in which we would grasp the chance to interact with local residents to deduce the best possible design solutions on-site. Hence, final working models can be presented to the locals as an effective communicational tool for its nature of easy comprehension per se.) Year after year, based on persistent patience with time, all partners including local inhabitants eventually achieved various strips of public connecting corridors that local people would appreciate these urban open spaces from heart.
Through studious survey studies of the local educational, transportation and flood regulation systems, we gradually explored and teased out a diversity of design alternatives of civil infrastructure and bridge construction that may look peculiar but in fact proved to be the most useful. Due to mutual trust, which has been established over time between our studio and local inhabitants, we finally had the chance to rebuild the “new city moat” through cross-disciplinary ventures in helping with flood control and recalling the historical sentiment, as we believe that disaster prevention, economic stability and industrial security are the foundation for a good life. Only with stable homes and relations with people can we then protect our lively environment for as long as possible.
The second afterthought is called “Life with Mountain, Sea, Earth and Water."
In retrospect we discovered that a city cannot enjoy long prosperity if it only cared about itself, because the breezes, the water and the ecosystem have to retain their vitality after passing through the city. The urban and the rural have to not only help each other but also coexist upon each other, in which creative governance can also be inspired from each other.
In 2003, we decided to move out of the city that we grew accustomed to, and settle at its border where we could travel around more freely. Thus, we learn how to cultivate in paddy field, to experience swimming in water alongside the road, to cater meals ourselves and we even build our own boats to better understand the waterways. The endeavor of all these exercises is to bring healthier lives to our families.
The concept of Fieldoffice Architecture School is about encouraging more young people to use elements such as waterways and the coastline as their own home shelter systems and in turn study and protect them. (Gallery MA’s exterior exhibition space that can hold water is easily associated with Yilan’s beautiful water environment) A few years afterward, through the landscape lavatory, the water pump station, the war memorial and other environmental design projects, we repeatedly investigated the dynamic systems of the Lanyang Delta.
When others finally realized that we will not give up and walk away, people from all fields of studies began to voluntarily lend us their wisdoms until we acquired the necessary working knowledge.
The third afterthought is called “Canopy as Reference Line."
The canopy frame exists in the rainy subtropical zone, and due to its ostensible sheltering function, it became a budget-friendly solution. However, its real function may include a conscious effort of “creating emptiness," which implies the spatial feature of a democratic, boundary-blurring and classless venue. Its scale indicates citizens’ anticipation for public common use. It makes a pronounced statement by its form, but also serves as a backdrop for various kinds of social activities. A good artificial reference line usually reveals the beauty of the otherwise accustomed landscape to the public eye. (Climbing up the stairway to the 4th floor of the exhibition room, the dusty model of the Luodong Cultural Working House that has many times been carried in and out of the construction sites is now revealed in front of us. Echoing with the play of light and shadow generated from the huge abstract canopy downstairs, this venue can effectively depict its datum where one gradually perceives his or her position within the surrounding urban context.)
Finally, we wish for every friend who walks into our works to “remember our own bodies, and naturally forget about time."
The last and uppermost exhibition space uses Yilan County’s Cherry Orchard Cemetery as a metaphor, and in addition to its civil, environmental, and structural bridge engineering, recreates rather purposelessly its atmosphere through a mixture of video images exhibiting of clear sky, rain, fog, and echoes referring to true nature. Through all of which, one could perhaps see once again from his or her heart the joining of the three rivers at center of Delta and the countless layers of sand dunes that spread towards the Pacific Ocean.
I hope everyone has a chance to strive for the beauty of his or her own hometowns.