Discovery Pavilion of the Taichung World Flora Exposition

Why ecological conservation matters


Discovery Pavilion of the Taichung World Flora Exposition


By Cheryl Robbins


The World Flora Exposition is a garden festival recognized by the International Association of Horticultural Producers that takes place in different cities and places around the globe. On November 3, 2018, the Taichung World Flora Exposition officially opens and runs for about six months. It is divided among three sites in central Taiwan’s Taichung City, namely the Fengyuan, Waipu and Houli districts. At the Houli expo site, the main venue is Discovery Pavilion.

Many old trees were preserved during the Houli site’s development and, thus, the emphasis here is on forest ecology. The design concept of Discovery Pavilion incorporates some of these old trees, as well as various technologies, to highlight central Taiwan’s diverse ecology and the importance of conserving it.

The rich content of this pavilion is divided into eight exhibition units, with different elevations along the Dajia River explored, from sea level to 3,5000 meters. This draws attention to Taiwan’s plethora of majestic mountains, something that often comes as a surprise to first-time visitors to the island. Water is also a focal point as it is essential to the survival of all life on the earth.


As you enter the hall, the open-type construction of this pavilion comes into view with spaces between “green bricks” made from recycled materials, which allow for natural light and air to enter. The first unit starts from sea level to 100 meters above, calling attention to the ecosystem, including rare plants, of the Gaomei Wetlands, where the Dajia River meets the ocean. This is also a major ecotourism destination in Taichung.

The uniqueness of this pavilion is further evidenced by the adoption of a white bamboo forest and water mist system at the entrance to this unit. Moreover, this exhibition area takes on a different appearance at different times of the day as panels overhead reflect the varying intensities of light.  


In the second and third units, which cover 100 to 500 meters in elevation, irrigation canals are the focus, to point out the close connections between water and culture. Below a rice straw woven roof is a display on the history of the use of the Dajia River. Irrigation canal equipment serves another function here, that of speakers through which stories or traditional wisdom related to the history of these canals are told in the dialects commonly spoken in Taiwan: Mandarin, Taiwanese (Hokkien) and Hakka.

The next unit continues the climb to 500 to 1000 meters in elevation. This space presents the habitat of the endangered leopard cat in an outdoor courtyard, incorporating some of the old trees of this site. There is a strong connection between this animal and the Taichung World Flora Exposition. Originally, this event was only planned for Houli. However, when traces of leopard cat activity were found here, the Taichung City Government made the decision to reduce the size of the Houli site to protect its habitat. To compensate for the loss of exhibition space, two other sites were developed.


The fifth unit explores the ecology of 1000 to 1500 meters and includes an ecological hallway to introduce some of the wildlife found at mid-elevation in central Taiwan, such as flying squirrels, Formosan rock monkeys, Formosan black bears, Scops owls and Taiwan blue magpies. These are presented as pulp sculptures, integrating art and ecology. Moreover, the trunks of tree sculptures are wrapped in soft materials, which visitors are encouraged to touch to explore different textures.


The sixth unit reaches almost to Taiwan’s highest point, at 3500 meters in elevation. Here the focus is on a national treasure species, the Formosan landlocked salmon. This fish is found nowhere else in the world and is the only salmon species to not access the ocean, spending its entire life cycle in the upper reaches of the Dajia River. Beautiful, but haunting, images of these fish are projected to create a virtual aquarium.


 In unit seven, there is an obvious decline in temperature as you step into a reproduction of high mountain forest in which real tree trunks are spaced closely together above a carpet of natural pine needles. Display panels are placed at various locations to call attention to high mountain forest species and the dangers of deforestation.

The eighth unit includes a video of richly colored images that reviews the animals, plants and environments presented in the previous seven units, so that the key messages of this hall stay with you, with the expectation that they will eventually be transformed into conservation efforts and actions.

Near the exit, look for a display of bottles with 100 poems written by 100 poets especially for the Taichung World Flora Exposition to complete this innovative journey that integrates art, culture, ecology and technology.