We’d like to take the opportunity to introduce you to one of our Honorable mention winners for our “Modular Home Design Challenge 2021” competition – Chi-Chia Tsao, Zhi Ray Wang, Cheng Yen Tsai and Hung Yu Chu from Taiwan!

Chi-Chia Tsao, Zhi Ray Wang, Cheng Yen Tsai and Hung Yu Chu from Taiwan

The team is composed of four designers who graduated from the Architecture Department of National Cheng Kung University. After graduation, we worked in different types of architecture firms and research labs. Professional fields range from civilian construction, historical research, interior design, to urban planning, etc. In response to the quarantine policy during the epidemic, we adopted a fully online cloud cooperation model, and we will exchange and discuss at ten o'clock every Friday after getting off work. It was a really tough time.

Brief information about the projects that you/your company have been involved with. For instance, what scale have you focused on/preferred, any significant projects where the company/ individuals have been involved?

Chi Chia, Tsao 
-Education/ NCKU B.ARCH 
-Work/ Sustainable Design Center of NCKU. THC ARTECH

After graduating from the school, Tsao Chi Chia was eager to have a deeper understanding about how the urban plans work in this country and practical ways to fulfil those ideas. Therefore, he participated in several urban planning projects, including Sha-Lun Smart City and the urban design of Taoyuan High Speed Rail station and the Art Museum Nearby Area. Those experiences made it impossible for him to ignore the relationship between architecture and society, politics, cultures, and, of course, the environment. For him, modern cities are a mixture of dynamic urban facts, he calls it “Collective Presence”. Same as the fact that architecture has always been the interface between human and nature, Tsao Chi Chia has always seen himself as a mediator to put all those elements together in a proper way, trying to pick up clues in the compound to create something new.

Hung Yu,Chu 
-Education/ NCKU B.ARCH , NCKU M.ARCH 
-Work/ Sustainable Design Center of NCKU

Chu Hung Yu is an architect, currently studying architectural history at the National Cheng Kung University. He went to the National University of Singapore as an exchanged student, and during the period in Southeast Asia, he became interested in urban history. "Timeliness" is his focus of study. The scale of his past research has ranged from architecture to settlements, including the iteration of rural houses, and the planning of Anping's commercial port. He perceives architecture as a representation of social reality and wishes to bring out the memory of the place through putting the study of architecture history into practice.

Zhi Ray, Wang 
-Education/ NCKU B.ARCH 
-Work/ JJP Architects

Zhi Ray Wang is a designer based in Taipei, Taiwan. During college, he had a deep interest in the theory of urban, architecture, and history. He tried to understand the structure of the city on an architectural scale. In the process of practicing interior design after graduation, he tries to understand the architectural space on a smaller structural level. He is currently working for JJP architects and has also participated in an international cultural facility competition, transportation-oriented urban development, urban renewal planning, etc., and in various architectural and urban competitions in his spare time.

Cheng Yen, Tsai 
-Education/ NCKU B.ARCH 
-Work/ Atelier 3

In Helsinki Design Week 2017, Cheng Yen Tsai participated in an installation workshop named “People's Architecture”. Since then, he has been interested in the question: “how to fight for the right to live through the technological way of architecture”. After that, he went to Atelier 3 for an internship and learned a set of open building technologies for light steel structures. In the last year of school, studio tn̂g té tshiū affected him a lot. Through the methods of photography and surveying & drawing, he revisited the common people's structures in the villages of Taiwan. In the process, he gained a deep understanding that these common people's structures often have many mature and advanced architectural concepts behind them, such as module/open building/applicable technology/user participation.

What does architecture mean to you and what is the role of an architect in your society?

In other historical moments, modernization was able to find or be the solution to environmental and landscape balance; however, it could be said that in our days all this has become almost impossible. This might turn out to be one of the reasons why we tend to put more emphasis on publicity, history, land, and the ethical inner discipline of design, which is architectonically paramount, and this leads to critical architecture and represents the aesthetics of architecture itself as well. We have been searching for a way to reconcile this complex intersection at ease by forcing ourselves to figure out our own designing principles through the process of working on projects of different scales..

Obviously, architects nowadays are not expected to change people’s lives by architecture alone. We firmly believe that we will never obtain the power to dictate people’s behaviours, but with thorough understanding of history and the ability to transform ideas on paper into practice, an insightful architect is able to dedicate to the society, inherit and develop the constantly layering tradition, become a part of a shared cultural heritage, make the environment a more suitable place, and mediate the mixture of urban facts.

Why do you participate in architecture competitions?

In Taiwan, the high-density population has shaped the problems of unaffordable housing prices and insufficient space, making "extension home" a unique building type. From this premise, the modular house must be constructed most economically, but also solving the problem of lacking living spaces. Therefore, we believe that this competition is an opportunity for us to respond to our growing environment and show our views on architecture.

What advice would you give to individuals who struggle to decide whether it would be beneficial for them to participate in architecture competitions?

Competitions are an important platform to discover your potential architectural identity. Therefore, be deliberate with what you choose. Only pursue opportunities that push your work forward and think a step ahead. It should not just be about winning; we try to see competitions as conversation with ourselves.

By the way, don’t forget to be nice to your teammates, always attend meetings on time, and get your job done! Enjoy it!

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