TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — After founding Taiwan’s first Center for Indigenous Science Development (CISD), National Tsing Hua University (NTHU) is building a bamboo building that combines traditional Indigenous crafts and modern steel frame structures, the university announced in a press release on Tuesday (Sept. 7).
NTHU invited Indigenous elders as well as government officials including Indigenous Legislator Kao Chin Su-mei (高金素梅) to attend the groundbreaking ceremony, which began with an Atayal blessing ritual. Atayal elder Fan Kun-sung (范坤松) first sang a prayer song, then, after breaking ground, hung branches and burned smoke to signal the land’s development.
According to CISD head Fu Li-yu (傅麗玉) the bamboo building will be built with materials gathered from Hsinchu County’s Jianshi Township, and will consist of two stories, one on ground level, and one basement level. There will be classrooms, conference rooms, offices, as well as spaces for exhibition, grain storage, and a watchtower in the building.
Fu thanked the project’s architect Lin Chih-cheng (林志成) for designing a building that not only meets construction regulations but also demonstrates Indigenous features. She said Lin consulted with Indigenous elders, bamboo house professionals, and bamboo architecture specialists to pioneer a whole new construction technique for the project.
For construction, bamboo is first boiled or roasted for additional strength and to prevent pests and decay. After the building is built and in use, bamboo can be individually replaced, making the building easier to maintain. The hollow nature of bamboo also means that it is an effective material in terms of insulation.
At the ceremony, NTHU President Hocheng Hong (賀陳弘) highlighted the importance of wisdom in Indigenous lifestyles, in an age of global warming. He said he hoped the establishment of CISD could help find solutions from new perspectives, and lead to a brighter future.
Kao Chin said CISD is an important center for Indigenous culture’s preservation that will teach Indigenous children to be proud of their identity. According to Fu, the basement exhibition space will feature tools and objects from Taiwan’s Indigenous tribes.
NTHU said it has promoted Indigenous science education for over 20 years. The university’s “Flying Squirrel Tribe” website aims to provide educational resources, while its animated series “Go Go Giwas,” which teaches the scientific concepts behind Indigenous cultures, has been nominated twice in the Golden Bell Awards.