A grand opening ceremony and concert last week signaled the official debut of Taiwan‘s new National Kaohsiung Centre for the Arts, Weiwuying—the world’s largest, single-building performing arts center set under one roof. The futuristic structure symbolizes Kaohsiung’s transformation from a major international harbor and military training base into a modern metropolis that’s rich in culture and diversity. Dutch studio Mecanoo designed the arts center as part of a larger plan to make a positive impact on the urban and social fabric of Kaohsiung, a city of nearly three million people, as well as enhance the environment and beauty of the subtropical park in which it’s located.

Known as one of Taiwan’s most noteworthy cultural speculations in history, the National Kaohsiung Centre for the Arts is impressive for its state-of-the-art performances spaces, which comprise 35 acres of land. The remarkably unorthodox structure includes an outdoor theater, a 434-seat recital hall, a 1,210-seat playhouse, a 1,981-seat concert hall, and an impressive 2,236-seat opera house. The colossal building, along with its open spaces, will undoubtedly serve as the cultural hub of East Asia, as it merges high-quality art and performance with openness and accessibility.

The 434-seat recital hall is the most intimate section, in materiality and layout.

The 434-seat recital hall is the most intimate section, in materiality and layout. (Iwan Baan)

The design was inspired by Taiwan’s local Banyan trees and their gigantic canopies of leaves. The roof of the National Kaohsiung Centre for the Arts is equally expansive, and its unique, undulating skin connects various portions of the building and performs a wide range of functions. Beneath the roof is the Banyan Plaza, a huge sheltered public space that encourages pedestrian interaction and informal public organizations. An open-air theater connects the curvy roof to the ground, with the surrounding subtropical parkland serving as the stage.

“Weiwuying is one of Mecanoo’s most ambitious buildings and embodies all the key elements of our philosophy,” wrote Francine Houben, a founding partner of Mecanoo, in a statement. “We have aimed to deliver a flagship cultural destination for Taiwan, a beacon to attract performers and audiences from around the world.”

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