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Bamboo Vision

Designer Katsuhiro Ozawa brings his poetic artistry to the Pause bamboo sculpture at the 2015/2016 Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism in Hong Kong. Christie Lee writes.



BY Janice Seow

January 22nd, 2016


Given all the worry surrounding the depletion of our natural resources, it seems befitting that the theme for the 2015/2016 Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism in Hong Kong is ‘Visions 2050: Lifestyle and the Smart City’. A saunter through the expansive Kowloon Park, where the biennale is held, generated thoughts about co-habitation, community and heritage conservation, but it was Katsuhiro Ozawa’s bamboo tunnel bridge that left a most long-lasting impression.

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A sustainable material that can be harvested rapidly, bamboo has long become a ubiquitous part of the Hong Kong psyche and cityscape, used variously in kitchenware, home furnishing and most visible of all, the construction scaffolding around town.

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“It is a material that has been used for construction as far as construction existed, and now we see it as the perfect material that alludes to a sustainable future for 2050 and beyond,” notes Ozawa, a design leader at Woods Bagot.

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Weaved together by thin bamboo splits, Pause is intended as a work that would allow us to “take a moment out of our busy lives to reflect on our selves while simultaneously allowing us to embrace our natural surroundings.”

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By day, light filters in through the fibres, casting dancing shadows on the concrete, grass and water, while by night, the sublime sculpture becomes a dark tunnel that one might vigilantly enter. The porous nature of the sculpture reminds constantly of the existence of the ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ worlds, and how nature – the light, wind, and human voices – could fluidly move between the two realms. Extended at the top, the splits rub against the wind to create a soft rustling whisper.

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From the side, the sculpture appears as a curtain of bamboo splits, as if chiding visitors to peel it open in order to discover the gem of a design structure behind. Meanwhile, the symmetrical reflection echoes the other symmetries seen in the park, be it the petals on a flower or branches on a Banyan tree.

Pause runs until 28 February at the 2015/2016 Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism in Hong Kong.