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Bidding Farewell to the 30-Year-Old Look to Welcome the Beautiful Scenery of Eastern Taiwan into the Assembly Hall

-Exclusive Interview with Principal Liao Wei-Min of Fushan International Education Experimental Elementary School

“To us, aesthetics should not be confined within just one space; it should be realized in all corners of the school, just like Fushan International Education Experimental Elementary School (Fushan), where the washrooms are beautiful and even filled with classical music. With this belief, we never applied for renovation of a single space in the past, and ‘Design Movement on Campus’ was our first time,” said Principal Liao Wei-min of Fushan.

Discovering Unconventional Design Logics for an Opportunity of “Design Movement on Campus”

The first experience of this kind of transformation began with a chance encounter through online searching. Liao Wei-min recalls that, since the school was repairing its gate and washrooms in previous years, he went online and searched for related cases before the constructions, hoping to bring something new to the campus of Fushan. “During my search, I saw some cases of campus transformation, and discovered that these spaces demonstrated unconventional design logics, so I checked out the sources of these cases. After finding out these were all cases of ‘Design Movement on Campus,’ I thought that Fushan could also apply.”

At the time, Liao Wei-min also thought that the one place most frequently used by teachers and students had to be the assembly hall. Whether it was class on rainy day, school-wide seminar, reception for foreign visitors, international exchange, or graduation, all kinds of activities took place here. In the past, to block off the strong gusts from the West Pacific, the school installed typhoon boards outside of the hall. They blocked the wind, but also darkened the interior of the assembly hall. Moreover, after some time, there were miscellaneous objects stored and partition boards installed in the assembly hall, which crowded and dimmed the entire space. Thus, how to make this most-used space more open and manifest Fushan’s unique features were the objectives Liao Wei-min hoped to achieve in this transformation project.

Opening Up the 30-Year-Old Assembly Hall to Welcome the Blue Sky and Magnificent Sun of Eastern Taiwan

To achieve the aforementioned objectives, Liao Wei-min, advisor Lee Wei-lang (now assistant professor at National Taiwan University of Arts), TDRI, and SpringBlesseddesign discussed and decided to remove all the miscellaneous objects and partition boards, take down the light metal trusses of the ceiling, and install ocean wave-like lights, making the entire space more open and spacious. The lights also echoed the geographical location of Fushan by the sea. On the other hand, SpringBlesseddesign also replaced old aluminum windows by large glass windows with thin white frames to draw in the bright sunshine from outside, and allow teachers, students, and guests inside the assembly hall to also see the vast green grassland and beautiful blue sky of eastern Taiwan through the windows. 

In terms of colors, SpringBlesseddesign picked the brains of all four parties and used black, white, and yellow consistently across the entire space. White window frames created visual neatness; TV wall for teaching featured mainly black with spots of yellow as decoration to symbolize that the school was like the sun that illuminated every child. “After the transformation, students told me they felt that the assembly hall was the most beautiful place on campus, and they loved having classes here. Later, we also held classical concerts here for our students to ‘learn aesthetics’ in an ‘aesthetic space’.”

More than Visually Striking, Elevating Aesthetics to the Level of Education

In addition to visual aesthetics, Liao Wei-min also stresses that transformation of teaching space must always refocus on the educational value. “Just like this transformation project, we turn an inadequate assembly hall into a place where children can freely break up into groups for activities and attend performances, which truly answers to the needs of an experimental school,” said Liao Wei-min. “To me, making good use of a limited budget and elevating aesthetics to an educational level are the most precious things achieved in this project.”

Liao Wei-Min
Graduated from Graduate Institute of Education, National Taitung University. Served as principal of Taitung County Guangyuan Elementary School, and currently the principal of Fushan International Education Experimental Elementary School

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