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Unfolding The Silver Horizon: Container Arts In Taiwan

Under the theme of ‘The Silver Horizon’, the ninth edition of the International Container Arts Festival offered a platform for expressions of the role of art in a fast-ageing society. 



BY Wynn A. Bay

March 22nd, 2018


From late December 2017 to early March 2018, Taiwan’s artistic port city of Kaohsiung hosted the International Container Arts Festival, a biennale event famed for the creative transformation of industrial containers into social or environmental spaces. The theme of this year’s festival challenged traditional notions of ageing.

One of the highlights, The Fan, was a container that unfolded to create a platform for a fashion show and a social space for the elderly. It was designed by a team led by Young Wei-Yang Chiu of Foster + Partners from London with his team consisting of Takuji Hasegawa, Yunfu Yi, Shuhao Wu and Jun Tsai.

As a native Taiwanese, Young saw the festival as an opportunity to contribute to the art community of his homeland and the region. He sees architecture and art as an accessible vessel to express an important message to the public.

“We did this because we are passionate about saying something to the current society. The society is ageing, we are all ageing, and there is beauty in ageing that we want to redefine and challenge,” he said.

Elaborating on the fan, he added, “For The Fan, I wanted to use architecture to bridge the traditional perception of ageing with the current reality. With people leading longer and healthier lives we have seen a huge shift in the lifestyle of the elderly community. People are doing a lot more than what we previously imagined. The older I grow the more I think that we are all children at heart. I want to do all things I did when I was younger – to play sports, to socialise and to look good.”

He continued, “This is why we proposed a reconstructed container using only recycled parts of an old container to build a stage for a fashion show. From the air, it looks like a double-edged fan, so that when you are [walking] up to the top you can continue to walk down, forming an infinity loop to signify the cycle of life.”

According to Young, research shows that socialising can enhance people’s lives and help them to live longer. Therefore, the underside of The Fan was designed as a shelter where the elderly can gather and chat. This daily social event is a popular pastime in traditional Asian communities, Young notes.

Functionally, The Fan was double sided; the extroverted stage for the ‘silver’ community to express themselves to the world also became an intimate gathering space. Said Young, “Perhaps it’s a reminder to all of us that there is something for everyone – even in our ever-changing world.”