Not long ago, what remained of the Shihlin paper factory in Taipei was in ruins, nearly lost to time. Left to crumble along with many other structures in this forgotten area, the factory was predictably overtaken by nature – with stunning results. Rainwater poured in and ferns and other greenery began to flourish against the red brick of the walls. Holes in the roof let in sunlight. Eventually, the beauty of this abandonment was discovered by Interbreeding Field Architects.
Rather than tear the remains down and start anew, Interbreeding Field preserved the chaos and deterioration, creating an incredibly moody atmosphere for a new exhibition space and cafe. The Paradise Lost in Time features wooden boardwalks and benches that allow visitors to tour the space safely.
Wooden latticework provides a backdrop for performance or art exhibitions, sleek and new beside the peeling paint of the original structure. Clusters of seats resembling lanterns give the space an eerie glow. Outside, the once-dilapidated grounds of the paper factory have been transformed with elevated wooden platforms that echo the wood used on the interior as well as new greenery, rocks and other landscaping.
This display of contrast between old and new, natural and artificial is a key concept in Interbreeding Field’s work. Says director Li H. Lu in an essay on the Interbreeding Field website, “The terms ‘interbreeding’ and ‘interfering’ are not architectural jargon. ‘interbreeding’ is a biological term. The botanical definition of “interbreeding” is ‘slip’ or ‘grafting’, and in zoology it means mixing of breeds. Whether ‘slip’, ‘grafting’ or ‘hybrid’, ‘interbreeding’ can be defined as crossbreeding of different species which then creates a new species and life form different from the parent generation.”