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When Lai Han-Yu, a Master's student at the Department of Architecture, heard about the catastrophic bushfires in large parts of Australia last year, he was deeply saddened by the loss of wildlife and the destruction of animal habitats.
Bush fires occur frequently in Australia with an increasingly disastrous impact on wild animals many of which are unique to the Australian continent. The suffering of the animals and the ecological damage inspired Lai Han-yu to develop a 'fire tower' that would offer shelter for animals during bush fires, and serve as a natural wild-life habitation in normal times.
His idea of a Fireproof Ecological Vertical Tower convinced the jurors of the iF Design Talent Award 2021 in Germany which was devoted to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Among more than 5,300 entries submitted by competitors from 49 countries, Lai was one of the six winners of the Best of the Year Awards, which is one the most important international design awards for students, also dubbed the "Oscar of Design".
In his award-winning design, Lai used linear, fireproof building materials and applied intricate weaving techniques for the outer layer of the tower, the main fire-resisting structure. For the interior, he came up with a solution where rainwater, collected during the rainy season, is used for energy conservation and for blocking heat radiation. Lai's project was supervised by Associate Professor Chen Yen-Ting, but he also consulted professional firefighters to get a better understanding of fireproof materials.
“I really hope that my tower can be realized and built one day to save wild animals and contribute to ecology”, he said, "that is my biggest wish!”