Students from Hungkuang University in Taichung received an award in the cultural heritage category of the Ministry of Culture’s A+ Creative Festival after they incorporated patterns from iron window grills in the Wuci Old Street (梧棲) into their creative designs.
Students from 23 universities entered 1,530 projects in the competition, the highest number of entries in the festival’s 10-year history, and 36 judges chose 162 projects for the final shortlist of winners, the school’s Department of Cultural and Creative Industries chairwoman Tu Hui (涂卉) said on Monday.
Over one-and-a-half years, Tu and another teacher, Lai Ko-chien (賴可謙), supervised students Tsao Ya-chi (曹雅姿), Yang Ching-min (楊靜旻) and Huang Wen-cheng (黃文政) as they frequently visited Wuci’s old street, speaking with local shop owners and residents and taking thousands of photographs to inspire their final designs.
Photo: Ou Su-mei, Taipei Times
The Wuci Old Street is not as crowded or busy as the old streets of New Taipei City’s Sanxia District (三峽) or Taoyuan’s Dasi District (大溪), but there are many old buildings, Tu said.
The team decided to let the iron grill patterns lead them in an exploration of the old buildings and their stories, she added.
The team collected designs of the buildings’ architectural elements and classified the grills by their patterns — geometric, flora and fauna, tightly packed and interwoven — before making an illustrated guidebook to help people locate the patterns and discover their meanings, Tu said.
Lacking architectural background, Tu said that organizing the thousands of pictures helped them finally decide on the content and direction of their project.
Using computer drawing and laser engraving, the team transformed traditional elements into an illustrated guidebook, shop standees, brochures and other creative products, she added.
Yang said that the team met shop owners who refused to be interviewed, but that many local residents liked and praised the team’s final designs — a member of a local book club even purchased a copy of the illustrated guidebook.
Many projects in the past were inspired by the patterns of traditional iron window grills, but the team tried to be original by exploring the meanings of the designs and the stories behind them, Huang said.
The team even used wood from the old buildings in making new items for the project, which imbued the items with a sense of warmth, Huang added.
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