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 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.”
Posts tagged with "Francine Houben":
The Architect’s Newspaper’s Facades+ conference, part of a conference series on innovative building envelopes, has once again touched down in New York City. This year’s morning keynote speaker, Francine Houben of Mecanoo, delved deep into the firm’s projects around the world. The Dutch architect described seven very different projects, united by technically demanding facades that all referenced the unique history of their surroundings. Houben began with the Maritime and Beachcombers Museum on the isle of Texel, The Netherlands. The 4,000-square-foot museum punches above its weight with a facade of vertically-oriented, recycled wood planks that dapple the incoming sunlight and reference the maritime history of the island. “I’m here to tell you how I work,” said Houben. “I try to observe, I try to extend the flow of the people, how they walk through the city; how can I connect these people to the building, bring them up?” That attention to observation extends to a series of contextual facades. In discussing the Palace of Justice in Córdoba, Spain, Houben referenced the city’s extreme heat and the way that residents layered terraces to block the harsh sunlight as key factors that drove the densely-layered development around courtyard recesses. The tessellating perforations in the white glass fiber reinforced concrete (GFRC) panels passively shade the interiors and cool occupants while also referencing historic sun shading in the region. A blending of old and new design also featured prominently into Mecanoo’s work on the Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building in Boston. The firm’s first built projects in the U.S.–in collaboration with the locally-based Sasaki Associates–involved inserting a sinuous brick building on a triangular plot with curving historical facades in each corner. The integration of the freestanding stone facades was accomplished by convincing then-mayor Thomas Menino to purchase and expand the initial site to include two other buildings beyond the original’s single-facade scope. In between the historic remnants, Mecanoo paid homage to Boston’s history of intricate brickwork by designing snaking walls built from bricks laid vertically and in a variety of other patterns. Houben described the influence as “Boston meets the Netherlands”. Infilling with sensitivity and drawing from the surrounding environment are strong hallmarks of Mecanoo’s work. But beyond the aesthetic appeal of the firm’s facades, Mecanoo makes sure that they’re also practical and contribute to the comfort of those inside. “We always try to combine the formal with the informal,” said Houben. “The inside with the outside.”
The New York Public Library's Board of Trustees unanimously selected the Dutch firm Mecanoo to lead the renovation of the NYPL's Stephen A. Schwarzman Building (the main branch at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street), as well as the Mid-Manhattan Library at 455 5th Avenue. Mecanoo's creative director and founding parter Francine Houben will lead the design team. New York's Beyer Blinder Belle will be the architect of record. Construction begins in late 2017 and is expected to run through 2019. After the Board of Trustees nixed Norman Foster's renovation scheme, the board invited 24 firms to submit proposals for the redesign in February 2013. 21 proposals were received, and the pool of contenders was winnowed down to eight, four and then two over four months, from June to September, 2015. Mecanoo was announced at the September 16th meeting of the NYPL's Board of Trustees. Mecanoo's plan for the main branch will include 42 percent more space for scholarly research and exhibitions. The Mid-Manhattan Library will receive a complete interior renovation to accommodate classrooms, a circulating library, and a business library.