Category Archives: architecture

Episode 59: Making of the Canoe

Lanyu (Orchid Island) is home to the seafaring Tao people, famous for their elaborately designed canoes. But they’re not just for show. The structure of these canoes are based on scientific principles that maximize efficiency for the Tao fishermen. The making of the canoe requires 27 pieces of wooden boards, connected through step cuts and stabilized by wooden nails. Not every piece of the board has the same function, so different timber are used for the boards. The spine of the structure must be solid, so they use longan wood. The sides use timber from mango trees or persimmon tree. These two kinds of wood have lower density and floats better. They also expand when in contact with water, making the canoe more secure.
The kids use paper clay to make their own canoes to understand how friction increases hull strength.