UC Berkeley News
Press Release

UC Berkeley Press Release

Light filtering through bamboo in memorial design Light filters through towering bamboo in this image of what UC Berkeley designers say their "bamboo room" will look like when planted bamboo sprouts mature. (Illustrations by Judith Stilgenbauer)

Professor, students win design competition for Taiwan peace park

– A professor and two students of landscape architecture at the University of California, Berkeley, have won an international design competition with their vision for a 15-acre park in Taiwan that will serve as a national memorial and monument to peace.

Professor Judith Stilgenbauer worked with graduate students Kit Shihting Wang and Calder Gillin to obtain first prize in the "228 National Memorial Park" competition sponsored by the Taiwanese government and will help guide construction of the park, which is in the city of Chiayi.

The park will open in November 2007. At its center will be an underground "bamboo room," a sunken courtyard filled with bamboo plants that measures 350 feet by 130 feet and is 33 feet high. It will be open to the sky, but enclosed by glass all around. A steel ramp will lead visitors down a slope to an entry way to the underground viewing room that will have a floor-to-ceiling view of the bamboo room. The room will be illuminated at night and, from a distance, appear to be glowing.

A "memorial wall" of thick, frosted glass with narrow, vertical slits will extend vertically from one side of the bamboo room. The wall will appear opaque from surrounding streets, but more transparent close up, giving visitors another view of the vegetation below.

The park is named for an incident on Feb. 28, 1947, on the island of Taiwan, which was transferred from Japanese rule to the Republic of China after World War II. For several years, the Taiwanese struggled with food shortages and skyrocketing inflation. They complained of widespread governmental corruption.

According to reports, a government agent tried to take away black market cigarettes from an elderly woman on Feb. 27 of that year. When he began to whip her, a crowd came to her rescue. The agent fired a shot and killed someone in the crowd.

Word of the incident spread rapidly, triggering protests and a major rebellion. In turn, thousands of Taiwanese were killed by government soldiers. Official estimates of the death toll range from 10,000 to 30,000.

For decades, Taiwanese law prevented discussion of what's called the "228 incident." But in 1992, the president of Taiwan issued a formal apology on behalf of the government and declared Feb. 28 a national holiday in honor of 228 victims.

The UC Berkeley design team named its 228 park design "Conceal/Surface."

"Until a few years ago, the events of 1947 were a taboo subject, and details . have been covered and guarded," the UC Berkeley team wrote in its competition proposal. "The fate and number of its victims are mysteries. Yet, the national memory lives on. In time, answers and lost stories will surface and loom."

Wang, one of the students on the team, is from Taiwan and is writing her thesis about the 228 memorial park.

"It was extremely helpful for us (the UC Berkeley design team) to be able to get firsthand information from a native speaker (Wang) who is familiar with Taiwanese landscape, history, culture and the political situation in the country," Stilgenbauer said.

Taipei architect Joe Lin also was named on the prize. He is the team's local representative for the project.

Cross-section sketch of memorial
A cross-section sketch shows the "bamboo room," and a ramp to take visitors through the bamboo to a viewing room with floor-to-ceiling windows.
[an error occurred while processing this directive]