REVEAL by Poyao Shih & Anita Cheng | World Design Awards 2020

Poyao Shih & Anita Cheng: Third Award of World Design Awards 2020. REVEAL was an art exhibition for the very first Taiwan Arts Festival held at the Smith Center Arts Wing at Harvard University in November, 2019. The exhibition gathered various mediums of artwork including oil painting, photography, film, architecture, and archeaology, and provided a platfom for artwork inspired by Taiwan. The intention of the exhibition was to bring viewers from all backgrounds to experience the diversity and complexity of Taiwanese culture.

The exhibition was designed with a series of modular structures made out of transparent roofing panels (corrugated boards) and 2×2 timbers inspired by the omnipresent building elements for rooftop expansion in the cities in Taiwan. The intention of using familiar materials ties with the expression of Taiwanese culture and identity placing in the US as our critique to cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary medium.

As the main material for this installation, roofing panel is widely used in backyards or greenhouses in the U.S. However, it is a cultural signification and representation of urban life in Taiwan. In the 90s, when the demand for housing was high and the regulation of housing was not so restricted, housing expansion on the rooftop has become a common, popular, and affordable solution to housing shortage and increased housing prices in the cities. Nowadays, rooftop expansion is no longer acceptable in major cities because of safety concerns. The amount of rooftop expansion has also decreased due to city developments. Housing demands has changed housing typology from low rise buildings to high rise apartments which don’t encourage housing expansion on the rooftops. This urban condition has been discussed in many fields including the design discipline. The expansion, although it causes safety issues and visual disturbance among the city landscape, is a unique phenomenon that represents the freedom of living and city dynamics growing in organic and self-developed ways.

Our approach to feature such significant material was to transform them into displaying structures that tailored to perform for different types of artwork and designed to integrate the interaction between their differences. For instance, small scale photographs can be mounted onto vertical roofing panel (type A, D); whereas artifacts for archaeological research project required flat surface to place items on (type E, F, G). Architectural project needs a combination of vertical and horizontal surface for drawings and physical models (type B3, H, I). As the transition zone between inside and outside of the exhibition, the entrace space is intentionally designed to attract attentions and create inviting gesture using modular structures with the most dramatic transformations.

The construction team is a group of students and volunteers with zero to little experience of simple construction. In order to construct the exhibition structures, we created and provided drawings of construction instructions for every types of structure for the team to quickly and easily understand the process. The whole exhibition consists of 22 individual structures and was assembled in three days.

The name REVEAL seeks to bring new understanding of the roofing panels through a series of transformation. The design aims to rethink the beauty of the material itself and reveal the story behind every panel of the artwork. The exhibition space juxtaposes all the artworks and demonstrate their relatable dialogue through the transparency of the layout. It is also through the folding corrugated modules and displaying structure that reveal the art and culture of Taiwan.

Designers: Poyao Shih, Anita Cheng
Category: Pop-Ups temporary Built

Year: 2019
Location: Camrbidge, MA. USA
Team: Poyao Shih, Anita Cheng
Fabrication Team: Emily Tseng, Tim Wei-Ting Hung, Eugene Chuang, Cody Yiu Eve Lee, Po-Yu Chen Yuan-Ting Chang, Fan-Yun Lan, MeiCheng Shih, Wendy Ting, Wen Lei Chiu, Tiffany Yang, Jerry Lin, Sammi Chung, Ada Shaw, Feng-en Tu, I-Ting Huang, Charles Chen, Vita Wang, Ya-Yun Hsiao, Hung-Ju Kan, Ken C. Chang, Siao Huei, Chuan-Heng Hsiao, Amy Weng, Hung-Yi Wu, Hsin Yin Tu, Adeline Wang, Huichi Yang, Blake Liu, Chi-Ning Chou, Chihfu Wei

Country: United States
Photography ©Credit: Poyao Shih, Chia Liang Liu

Poyao Shih and Anita Cheng are both designers based in New York. Met at Harvard Graduate School of Design, Poyao is an architectural designer interested in combining advanced spatial ideas with existing urban conditions and Anita is an landscape designer with an architecture
background passionate about interdisciplinary collaboration and design. Both born and raised in Taiwan, Poyao and Anita are interested in expressing cultural identity and revealing stories through design. They believe design is a powerful language that initiates curiosity, creates opportunities for communication, and provides a platform to connect the difference between people.