Sat, Jun 21, 2008 - Page 16 News List

A ‘turning point’ for Taiwanese architecture?

A cutting-edge vacation home development on the northeast coast is making waves in the international design world

By David Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

Among Next Gene20’s notable works is Kung Shu-chang’s (龔書章) Radix House, which was inspired by Henri Matisse’s painting, Dance. The house looks like five giant, pointed stones standing together; like Matisse’s dancers, who each stand on one foot, the structure rests on the tip each “stone,” thus minimizing damage to the ground below. Kung’s house is also intended to foster an appreciation of the surroundings — the south side has large windows for viewing the forest. As for environmental considerations, the east and west sides of the house have small windows to shield it from wind in winter and sunlight in summer.

Blending in

Julien de Smedt’s Twirl House, on the other hand, literally blends into the landscape. Its structure is weaved into gently sloping hills — the roofs are shaped like arches with grass growing on top. His design took into consideration the constant changes in vegetation and soil due to typhoons to make his house “in symbiosis with the environment,” de Smedt said. The sides of the house are mostly window glass, but their placement is arranged so that it is easy to see out, but not in. “[The house] celebrates views and protects itself from being viewed,” de Smedt said at the press conference.

Despite the radical look, the Denmark-based architect says his team worked with “excellent local architects and consultants to make sure our house embodied Taiwanese values.” A resident of the house will feel “happy to live there,” de Smedt said later in an e-mail exchange.

Flexivilla is Toshiko Mori’s reaction to Taipei’s urban density: she designed a compound-like space with a grand feel, so both the building and its occupants have space to “breathe.” Three pavilions are connected by covered walkways, allowing for outdoor activities even in inclement weather. This multi-pavilion design suits the traditional Taiwanese family unit, where several generations often live together under one roof, while also allowing for individual privacy. By integrating indoor and outdoor spaces, Flexivilla promotes a “healthy lifestyle,” and an “ecological way of living,” Mori said.

Next Gene20’s works point to a future that takes greater consideration of the environment. In the past, a piece of architecture was merely “a figure with the landscape as the background,” Liu said. “This project reverses the relationship … we fit [our work] with land and nature and try to merge our architecture with the natural land,” he said.

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