World Bamboo Day - Taiwan 2020
A Celebration of Bamboo
With bamboo in the starring role, the recently concluded 2020 Taoyuan Land Art Festival was a big hit, chalking up a total of 1.47 million visitors. Held over 17 days, the event showcased 28 large-scale bamboo installation arts from 51 participating artists, including artists from Japan, Indonesia and Myanmar.
One of the largest annual art events in Taiwan, the Festival saw an average of 20,000 visitors a day on weekends and public holidays. Artworks aside, the festival’s crowd-pullers included a lifestyle marketplace, themed DIY activities, craft demonstrations and live music performances. Organised by the Taoyuan City Government, the Festival was widely covered by Taiwan’s mainstream media, including popular lifestyle magazine Vogue Taiwan.
British daily The Guardian featured Taiwanese artist Lee Kuei-Chih’s bamboo installation, “The Ripple Maze at Gaoshuang” from the Festival in its “Best photos for the weekend” section.
As a buildup to the upcoming 2021 World Bamboo Congress in Taiwan, Taiwan Bamboo Society (TBS) embraced the 12th WBC motto, “Bamboo Now” for the festival. TBS curated a mobile bamboo installation exhibition and a bamboo-themed marketplace to allow visitors to engage their imagination and senses, witness the exciting potential of bamboo and shift their perception of bamboo as an outdated material.
A crowd-pleaser at the festival, the Mobile Bamboo Exhibition Pavilion exhibited literature on Taiwan’s bamboo and the World Bamboo Congress, including quotes from World Bamboo Organization President Michel Abadie.
Designed and constructed by engineering consultant A.S Studio, the prototype pavilion showcased bamboo’s flexibility, strength and innovative potentials. Made of Moso bamboo, steel joints and canvas, the pavilion uses a foldable structural system so it can be easily disassembled and transported, making it ideal for travelling exhibitions. Many visitors flocked to the pavilion and were seen posing for photos inside and outside the gorgeous pavilion.
Hugely popular, the bamboo-themed lifestyle market featured over *45 bamboo booths constructed by Taiwan Bamboo Society, peddling bamboo crafts, artisanal handmade products, traditional desserts and baked goods. Festival goers sampled freshly baked sourdough breads, homemade tofu pudding and hand-brewed coffee whilst shopping for handcrafted bamboo baskets and stylish bamboo earrings.
The TBS-designed bamboo swing was a crowd-favourite amongst the young and old. Since the installation arts were sprawled over the large campus ground and futher locations, bamboo gazebos, chairs and benches provided a welcome respite for visitors to take a breather. These portable structures highlight bamboo’s characteristics – lightweight, strong and natural aesthetics, and the material’s practical applications in day-to-day lives.
Jointly published by TBS and MATA, a special-edition periodical Island of Bamboos – A Brief History of Taiwan’s Bamboo Industry (竹仔 非草非木的島內生活指南), and a bamboo construction handbook, From Bamboo to Bamboo House – A Guide to Bamboo Construction for Everyone (從竹子到竹房子), co-published by TBS and Green Media, will be launched during the Festival.
Design and innovations
Choosing bamboo as the medium in this year’s festival theme – creative cityscaping, provided designers and artists a shot at designing and building with bamboo whilst exploring the material’s limitless potential.
Hsu Yu-Chen’s “Under the Wing” installation is the Taiwanese product designer’s first dabble in bamboo design and construction. Inspired by a mother duck sheltering her ducklings under her wings, Hsu’s creation is a sheltered space that invites visitors to relax in a safe cocoon.
“With my background in craftsmanship, I’ve worked with metal, wood and bamboo,” says Hsu. “For me, bamboo is the most challenging material because you have to understand and follow its natural traits and reach a compromise. The final product may not be what you envisioned but it’s the surprise element that makes it worthwhile.”
This exhibition is also a platform for someone without an architectural background to transform a design concept into a ‘working’ structure whilst learning the challenges of construction methods, Hsu added.
Young architect Lee Bo-Chun’s modern ‘teahouse’ sculpture, “Connection,” exemplifies the ‘connection’ between traditional craft and a modern, flowing space that represents the future. Wielding his expertise in digital arts for the design, Lee used bamboo splints and the warp-and-woof weaving methods to fashion strong, curved surfaces that are supported by vertical bamboo pillars.
“I think exhibitions and festivals like these (Taoyuan Land Art) are good opportunities for young designers to experiment with bamboo and utilise traditional craft techniques to create ‘fashionable’ bamboo art that the public can relate to,” says Lee who learned bamboo-weaving skills under a master artisan over three months whilst working on this project. Lee’s work is also featured in an international online design publication Archinect.
“As a designer, I can showcase the soft power of Taiwanese design and Taiwan’s bamboo technologies through my work. For example, the metal joints and chassis (on the bamboo pillars) are developed by D.Z. Architects & Associates, and the high heat-treatment bamboo process is developed by Taiwan Forestry Research Institute to strengthen the structures.”
The durability of bamboo materials was put to test in the “TensFlow” installation art created by a team of graduate students from National Chiao Tung University (NCTU)’s
Graduate Institute of Architecture. TensFlow is crafted from a series of bamboo tubes and metal cables using the Tensegrity design principle to create a “floating” visual effect akin to a bamboo forest in the air.
“In essence, the project reflects the importance of the breakthroughs (of traditions) and innovation, and design and research in the bamboo industry,” says Associate Professor Hsu Pei-Hsien who led the team.
During the exhibition, the structure remained stable under strong wind conditions. However, the bamboo tubes developed cracks and mildew after repeated exposures to rain.
“The lessons learned – the processing and selection of bamboo materials need to be more rigorous and stringent, and there needs to be a standard treatment of the material to improve its durability,” Hsu adds.
For festival goers, the creative installation arts, DIY workshops and marketplace make bamboo accessible and fun for the general public.
“The festival is family-friendly and the artistic creations are appealing to all walks of life,” says Taipei-based Wu Chia-Hsin who visited the festival with her spouse, two kids and parents-in-law. “As an architect, I’ve never worked with bamboo so this exhibition gives me a glimpse of how bamboo can be applied in architecture.”
However, Wu feels the installations should showcase more diverse applications of bamboo, for example, bamboo as a structural material instead of just for surface decorations.
“Bamboo-themed festivals or events like these (Taoyuan Land Art) can introduce more bamboo-made recreational equipment to attract families with kids and run diverse bamboo workshops or DIY activities that appeal to adults and kids,” she added.
World Bamboo Day
To celebrate World Bamboo Day which falls on 18 September, TBS will also host a concurrent event Go Taiwan Bamboo La! at Yunlin Storyhouse in Yunlin County. To be held from 10am to 5pm, the event includes a bamboo story-telling session, bamboo-themed talks and bamboo-weaving workshop. All activities are free except for the workshops. Please refer to the attached poster for a full line-up of activities.