Namasia's Beautiful Mincyuan Elementary School／韌性重生的山林寶石─那瑪夏民權國小
Namasia's Beautiful Mincyuan Elementary School
◎English translation: Hou Ya-ting
◎Photos by Lin Hao-ran
In 2009, Namasia's Mincyuan Elementary School was destroyed by Typhoon Morakot. It was decided that the school would be rebuilt on a new site. Delta Electronics Foundation came forward to sponsor the reconstruction. In February 2012, it was reopened, with some great new innovations, including the building being constructed with environmental materials and a renewable energy supply, ensuring the campus would have a self-sufficient power supply. In 2012, it was also certified as EEWH Diamond Level green building, which is the highest ranking Green building achievable in Taiwan.
At 800 meters above sea level, Namasia is renowned for its peach and plum orchards. On the beautiful drive up to the school, orchards can be seen along the way. In February, it is particularly picturesque when the trees are in bloom. The pink flowers of the peach and the white flowers of the plum trees bring great beauty and charm to the region.
Although it is located in remote region, Mincyuan Elementary School's uniquely environmental design caught the attention of National Geographic, who came and filmed a documentary about it for the TV series Megastructures, entitled, "Eco School-- Mincyuan Elementary School in Namasia District".
The school's architect, Mr. Kuo Ying-chao, put great thought and care into the architectural design. Although he grew up in the city, he did a great deal of research regarding the region's aboriginal people, history and culture to prepare for the project. In addition, through questionnaires, Mr. Kuo consulted with the students. His unique design also includes the school's multiple buildings being raised up on stilts, which allows rain water and wind to flow beneath. This design reflects the traditional design of a Bunan Kuba, a tribal building where young Bunan males learn how to do traditional singing and dancing and gain hunting skills. Mr. Guo also hopes the students will gain traditional knowledge and learn about tribal traditions in the library. The various buildings on campus are also designed with a Green ventilation system that includes an electronic sunroof and windows facing in northerly and southerly directions, which fully utilize the sun's natural lighting. These have efficiently reduced the need for air-conditioners.
The wooden library resembles the shape of a datura flower, which is a flower indigenous to the area. The corridor of the main school building has a totem-wall with a diamonded-shape pattern, stretching all the way up to its ceiling, which is symbolic of the eyes of the ancestors. It is truly a mixture of modern environmental architecture and traditional tribal culture.
The campus also boasts various art works by local artists. One can be seen on the school's large red, pink and blue water tank, which is symbolic of the importance of harvest in Bunun culture. A painting on the front wall of the school depicts the legend of a crab defeating an anaconda and a separate picture of a giant bird. The painting was designed to encourage residents in Namasia not to be afraid of challenges and that they are resilient, having rebuilt after Morokot devastated their neighborhoods. Through art, visitors can gain a deeper appreciation for indigenous culture.
The rebuilding of Mincyuan Elementary School at its new site demonstrates the resilience of the Bunun spirit. It is definitely worth a visit. Come and see the campus' unique environmental design. The Bunan people are extremely hospitable people and are sure to give visitors a warm welcoming.