Divooe Zein Architects (自然洋行) is a Taipei-based architectural studio selected by a nationwide open call to represent Taiwan at the 2020 Venice Architecture Biennale. Ahead of the 17th International Architecture Exhibition this August, the firm has unveiled a miniaturized mock-up of its design for the Taiwan Pavilion titled "Primitive Migration from/to Taiwan."
Responding to the daunting theme of "How will we live together?", the 2020 Taiwan Pavilion will explore how individuals and communities can prosper amid the diverse natural environment and unique architectural culture of this mountainous island nation.
Through three projects centered on "Ask," "Work Together," and "Influence Each Other" to address the biennale's sub-themes, the Taiwan Pavilion shall outline its vision for a coexistence between humanity and nature through efforts including site studies, experimental collaborations with field research and art, and explorations of the ties that bind together Taiwan's natural environment, culture, and creative output.
The Taiwan Pavilion will be divided into four sections to showcase five architectural installations: "siu siu – Lab of Primitive Senses," "Natural Monastery," "Semi-Ecosphere Glass House for Isolation & Meditation," "Lab of Primitive Perception," and "The Forest BIG."
Located in Yangmingshan, a natural paradise on the outskirts of Taipei, "siu siu – Lab of Primitive Senses" serves as an intersection of urban civilization and nature. Employing light, grass, Buddhist statues, flowers, scents, sounds, and yoga, the 2014 winner of Taiwan's ADA Awards for Emerging Architects will launch a healing process to bring back experiences that are no longer prevalent in modern digital life. "siu siu" refers to the Taiwanese phrase for "very little (少少)."
In addition, viewers will be able to see 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.
"Semi-Ecosphere Glass House for Isolation & Meditation" embraces the concept of minimizing damage to nature and coexisting with nature. Created to explore the five senses, the cavernous construction is made of recycled glass and represents the essence of "home" — which can be any place, even a cave, as long as it offers stability and comfort in our information-loaded and traffic-ridden future.
Located in Miaoli, "The Forest BIG" is a complex site where people, wildlife, and knowledge convene. Taiwan short-leaf pines and second-growth forest vegetation can be seen repopulating the idyllic landscapes encompassing abandoned farmland, overgrown waterways, and derelict playground facilities.
Formerly an aquarium with palatial-style cornices, the main building of "The Forest BIG" is now whitish gray in a sharp departure from its previous tangerine-red hues, owing to the necessity of removing the religious connotations of the old paint job.
Divooe Zein (曾志偉), the director of Divooe Zein Architects, has also covered the main building's roof with gray nets and narrow steel frames, echoing the color scheme of the netted frames on the surrounding greenhouses, while the door panels are made of cement-grouted timber.
Apart from the five conceptual installations, the Taiwan Pavilion will also feature an interdisciplinary collaboration by Zein, Peruvian film director Mauricio Freyre, and scent-oriented design studio Äi Äi ILLUM LAB (曖曖。內含光氣味實驗室) from Taiwan, offering viewers a unique sensual experience through moving images and fragrance.
"Primitive Migration from/to Taiwan" will be hosted by Italy's Palazzo delle Prigioni from Aug. 29 to Nov. 29. With the aim of cloaking the ancient Venetian prison with a layer of primitive yet serene atmosphere, the Taiwan Pavilion will immerse visitors in projected works that mesh with the featured installations and complement the historic building's spatial layout.
March 4 Update: The Biennale Architettura 2020 will take place from Aug. 29 through Nov. 29, instead of May 23 through Nov. 29, as previously announced. The new dates for the Biennale Architettura have been established as a consequence of the recent precautionary measures against the coronavirus taken up by the governments of a growing number of countries around the world, which will have a domino effect on the movement of people and works in coming weeks.