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Taiwan's ecoARK inspires green pavilion project in Malaysia

2011/11/17 15:22:00

Taipei, Nov. 16 (CNA) Inspired by the ecoARK showcased earlier this year at the Taipei Flora Expo, a Malaysian high school inaugurated a similar structure made from plastic bottles to promote environmental awareness and green building concepts on Tuesday.

Liew Wei-lun, a Malaysian graduate student at National Taiwan Normal University who organized the ecoARK project, said he and more than 2,000 Malaysian students built the pavilion made of about 4,000 plastic bottles at Pay Fong High School in Malacca State in July.

The school then waited for a plastic "brick" from the now dismantled ecoARK in Taiwan to arrive in Malaysia to complete the school's new structure before inaugurating it.

Liew, who was not able to get back to Malaysia for the formal opening of the building Tuesday, told CNA that the Pay Fong project was inspired by the ecoARK pavilion that was showcased at the Taipei International Flora Expo from November 2010 to April 2011.

It was built using 1.52 million honeycombed-shaped bricks made from discarded PET bottles.

"We haven't had one single 'green school' in Malaysia yet," the 34-year-old Liew said. "I think Taiwan has provided an excellent model to follow."

By building green schools -- which feature environmentally friendly facilities, encourage energy saving and provide environmental education -- both the school and the local community can take action to protect the environment, Liew said.

During the one-month design and construction period during his summer vacation, Liew said he also asked the students to write down their commitment to environmental protection and put the notes into the bottles used in the bricks to preserve them for posterity.

"In a way, the structure can be considered a 'time capsule,'" said Liew, an environmental education major. "I think the project will leave the students with wonderful memories because it was a joint effort among friends and families."

What is special about the pavilion, he added, is that it contained an original PET brick from the ecoARK, which the school described as the "heart" of the project.

Since the ecoARK was dismantled after the expo closed in April, its bricks have been distributed to local schools and non-profit organizations to spread the idea of "turning trash into treasure."

"(The Malaysian project) might be a mini-project if you just looked at the result," said Wang Shun-mei, founder of the Taiwan Green School Partnership Network. "But it actually is a significant milestone from the perspective of environmental education, especially in that it was carried out by two countries."

Having promoted the core development of ecological concepts for the past 13 years, Wang said she hoped to see more such programs take root through the education system as more than 500 local schools have moved in the direction of building green schools.

"What nature teaches us is sharing, not competition," she said. "Imagine that we could introduce such an idea into our classrooms. Wouldn't that make learning more joyful?" (By Lee Hsin-Yin) ENDITEM/ls