Taiwan Pavilion at the Venice Biennale
Palazzo delle Prigioni
Primitive Migration from/to Taiwan is a proposition towards an imaginary future way of living at the intersection of urban civilization and nature. Commissioned by the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts and organized by Divooe Zein Architects and Double-Grass International Co., the Taiwanese contribution for the 17th edition of the Venice Architecture Biennale also tackles question posed by the curator Hashim Sarkis, How will we live together?, which has taken on a new relevance since the outbreak of the pandemic.
Taiwan-based interdisciplinary design team Divooe Zein Architects has a longstanding interest in examining the relationship between development and nature. On this occasion, the architecture team seeks to ask how Taiwan, with a current population of around 23 million, can maintain its unique way of living and its architectural culture whilst surrounded on all fronts by mountains, forests and oceans.
The presentation is unveiled through five existing architectural projects in Taiwan, Indonesia and Mainland China that explore the effects of human and nature interaction: Siu Siu – Lab of Primitive Sense, Nature Monastery in Bali, Semi-ecosphere glass house for isolation and meditation, Lab of Primitive Perception and The Forest BIG.
Located on the outskirts of Taipei, “Siu Siu – Lab of Primitive Sense” is an award-winning greenhouse designed by Divooe Zein Architects. With the core value of generating a “nature-based learning field,” the success of interdisciplinary collaborations among botanists, traditional medicine practitioners, aboriginal artists, climatologists, spiritualists, and yoga instructors, among others, is shared with the public in this experimental shelter. In addition to a large-scale model of the greenhouse, the presentation showcases the original layout plans for the lab, notes from field research projects, a large number of materials used in the installations, samples of items that sparked inspiration, and images capturing the life and work of the featured architect.
Also designed by Divooe Zein Architects is “Semi-ecosphere glass house for isolation and meditation,” built in 2017 in collaboration with Spring Pool, a glass recycling factory in Hsinchu. Offering an otherworldly experience, the project adheres to its principle “minimize the damage to nature, coexist with nature” by stimulating five of our primal senses. Through the technological characteristics in Spring Pool’s recycled glass, the structure resembles a sanctuary—a cave-like setting where materials, resources, energy and life can co-exist and inspire. In a highly digital world, the inorganic, heat insulating, harness and transparent qualities of the glass house offers a refuge for people of the future.
In collaboration with CMP Village, “The Forest BIG” is an experimental community situated on the south side of the Shangri-La Paradise Theme Park in Miaoli, Taiwan. The community brings together experience and knowledge gleaned from local human and nature activities by housing classrooms and workshops in a silver mesh-covered building. “The Forest BIG” complex previously functioned as an amusement park aquarium decorated with cornice that are typical in Chinese temples. To conceal any religious symbols, Divooe Zein deftly painted over the existing structure’s original vibrant orange-red color scheme with grey paint.
Additionally, the exhibition unites audiovisual and olfaction designs by collaborating with Peruvian director Mauricio Freyre to produce conceptual images and Äi Äi ILLUM LAB to design interactive elements. Through the collaboration with Äi Äi ILLUM LAB, a candle studio that organizes interactive olfactory exhibitions, the presentation invites visitors to experience a unique curatorial concept that stimulates our five senses.
Primitive Migration from/to Taiwan is staged in the ancient prison of Palazzo delle Prigioni, an emblematic landmark situated in the heart of Venice. The architectural design provides viewers with a tranquil environment that echoes the history of Venice. Facing the ongoing adversity of COVID-19, the exhibition also provides viewers an opportunity to examine these nature-inspired projects to find a tranquil state of mind. The Palazzo is an ideal venue for the presentation as it offers vast empty areas for creativity and the display of new work, whilst retaining many original elements of the Palazzo itself.