Building Bridges with Architecture: Lorraine's 'Urbanity from the Ocean' Workshop Experience in Taiwan

Portraits Square

With the support of the Butner Family Award, Lorraine participated in the “Urbanity from the Ocean” Visiting School workshop hosted by the Architectural Association School of Architecture (the AA) and National Cheng Kung University in Tainan, Taiwan. The AA is renowned for its avant-garde approach to architecture pedagogy that emphasizes immersive, site-specific teachings and innovative techniques to reinterpret the built environment.

This two-week workshop started with four days of field trips around the southern coast of Taiwan. During this time, the cohort explored the region’s biodiverse wetlands, ecotourism, tension between the aquaculture and semiconductor industries, Buddhist and indigenous religions, legacies from the island’s Dutch and Japanese colonial past, contemporary questions of national identity, and the future of Taiwan within its sociopolitical climate.

Following extensive investigations, students formed teams to collaborate on a cumulative project and curate an exhibition during the remaining ten days. Lorraine and her team “Bolou Moon” (a combination of the team members’ names) focused on exploring the subjective nature of the human-ocean relationship: how the existing waterside infrastructure may evoke uneasy emotions, how folktales stir superstitions about the ocean, and the Taiwanese cultural phenomenon of disconnection from the coast, despite being on a tropical island.

Inspired by Rebecca Solnit’s A Field Guide to Getting Lost and Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, the four team members of Bolou Moon aimed to reinterpret the Taiwanese relationship with the ocean through imaginative storytelling. Each team member adopted a different mythical persona to narrate the same coastal environment from varied scales and perspectives. The resulting multi-perspective short stories were each written in Taiwanese Hokkien, Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, or English to reflect different eras of Taiwan’s history and each member’s unique Taiwanese identity. Accompanying each narrative was an illustrated zine. The project culminated in a film of a polyphonic spoken word poetry performance on the Taiwan coastline. The final product, “Ocean Emotion,” was shown throughout the gallery for the “Urbanity from the Ocean” exhibition.

Watch the “Ocean Emotion” film here:

Discover other AAVS Taiwan student projects here:

Read more about Lorraine’s summer here: