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Pause Chaos

Mu Qu Jennifer Liu, Natalie Cole Bajet & Nikki Elim Ng

Each morning, as the first rays of sunlight ascend above the colossal structures of concrete, their radiant glow casts elongated silhouettes onto the bustling avenues of the urban landscape of New Taipei City in Taiwan. The city awakens to the sound of the train passing through the Tamsui District, its loud and powerful rumble echoing through the surrounding area. The air carries a captivating blend of aromas—the rich and invigorating scent of freshly brewed coffee mingles with the acrid stench of exhaust fumes, creating a pungent cocktail that permeates every corner. Amidst these sensations, a faint yet unmistakable odor lingers—a reminder of the Tamsui river nearby, caught in a state of decay, emphasizing the environmental challenges faced by the urban environment.

The streets overflow with a sea of people, each one hustling towards their destination. Clad in crisp suits and ties, their white shirts neatly tucked in and shoelaces tied, they navigate the urban jungle while diligently checking their phones to ensure they remain on time. Suddenly, the train doors open, and a wave of humanity surges into the metal carriage, filling every available inch. Crushed between strangers, the rising heat prompts beads of sweat to form, as people struggle to catch their breath in the confined space.

Such is the chaos of everyday life in this city.

Yet, amidst this chaos, a retreat emerges along the Tamsui riverbank and unfurls in four distinct parts, offering a space for people to create, contemplate, meditate, and communicate. The architecture harmonizes with the trees, rocks, and flowing waters, blurring the boundaries between the human realm and the organic world. In this symbiotic relationship, the retreat not only provides solace for visitors but also extends an invitation to the diverse flora and fauna that call this place home, encouraging their participation in the collective healing process.

At the core of the retreat’s design philosophy lies the use of organic materials sourced from the local region. Bamboos and dried grass, forms the integral elements of the architecture. Over time, these materials weather and decay, serving as poignant reminders of the transient nature of life. The gradual decay becomes a metaphor for the beauty and impermanence inherent in all living things, encouraging visitors to embrace the present moment and find solace in the ever-changing cycles of existence.

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