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.”
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In 2010 Reiser Umemoto Architects (RUR) entered a competition that might have seemed a strange fit for a small academic firm based in New York City known mostly for theoretical treatises and thoughtful residential design. Halfway around the world, a consortium of government organizations in Taipei, Taiwan, issued a request for proposals for a pop music campus that would etch its image into the local skyline. The groups wanted to bolster the Taiwanese pop industry in the competitive musical landscape of East Asia, amid rival industries in Korea, Japan, and mainland China. The competition organizers wanted an icon, something that would be instantly recognizable to national and international audiences. RUR responded with a submission that included collages showing newscasters announcing the arrival of the latest pop star while standing in front of a geometrically complex design, a mix of swooping arcs and fractal shards. This was the same year that Instagram was launched and only 13 years after the opening of Guggenheim Bilbao, and RUR knew that their proposal had to make an instant impact. These years were a time when Taiwan was producing many high-profile competitions that got international attention for the bold names and often wild designs of the winners. The competitions seemed to have a lot of promise, as clients were looking for avant-garde international firms to make spectacular statements with the sorts of buildings that can rocket a firm to stardom. Toyo Ito’s Taichung Opera House, OMA’s Taipei Performing Arts Center, and Neil Denari’s New Keelung Harbor Service Building all came out of this icon-obsessed mania. The reality for these competitions has been more complicated. “They have big ambitions,” Jesse Reiser said, “and they have prominent architects come in, but the budgets don’t mesh with that.” OMA’s project has stalled midway through construction; Neil Denari’s indefinitely postponed. RUR has, so far, bucked the trend and is close to bringing online not just the Pop Music Center, but also the Kaohsiung Port Terminal, another Taiwanese competition winner. The Pop Music Center scheme features three main masses scattered atop a retail plinth. “Part of our strategy was to expand the project into more of an urban design project, and not just do a mega-building, so we wanted to occupy the entire site,” Reiser said. A cube housing a pop hall of fame stands at one end of the main long site. It is anchored at the other end by the “industry shell,” a faceted mixed-use building that doubles as a band shell for an outdoor performance space in the middle of the site. The main hall is split from these buildings by a road that runs through the site and is connected by a bridge that extends directly into the hall’s lobby. Originally a branching structure similar in form to the Kaohsiung project, the main hall transformed when the client decided to increase the size of the theater from 3,000 to 5,000 seats. The final form resembles a sort of crystalline clam lodged into the landscape. The hall is well underway, and when it is completed, it will be the first of the three Pop Center buildings to finish. The exterior is already covered by an anodized aluminum skin with a distinctive standing seam pattern. The linear metal panels take on a range of tones depending on the angle of the surface, almost white on the pleated roof where they reflect the sky, and a rich bronze on the shaded underside of the facade. Reiser said the particular finish has historic ties to East Asia: “The color is this alumite color that the Japanese used on teapots and on certain fighter aircraft in World War II.” This exterior shell is punctured by the elevated walkway that connects the main hall to the other buildings and leads visitors into a double-height lobby. Faceted perforated aluminum panels with a dark green PVDF coating are backed by an air gap and black mineral wool to create a crystalline cocoon that clads the lobby and theater. The striations from the metal panels get picked up in the one-directional mullions that stripe the soaring glass windows that mark the lobby’s entrance. Large sheets of argon insulated glass units are lined with steel T mullions that run across the windows at various angles, adding an off-kilter dynamism to the entry. The interior and exterior surfaces are richly photogenic, ready to be snapped, shared, and liked by fans around the world. The main hall is expected to be complete in December 2018, and the rest of the complex will be fully constructed in two subsequent phases in the near future. Executive Architect Fei and Cheng Associates RUR team Jesse Reiser, Nanako Umemoto, Neil Cook, Michael Overby, Juan De Marco, Hilary Simon, John Murphy, Kris Hedges, Eleftheria Xanthouli, Toshiki Hirano, Ryosuke Imaeda, Joy Wang, Massimiliano Orzi, Xian Lai, Jasmine Lee, Boliang Pan Structural Engineer Arup HK (through Schematic Design); Supertek, Taiwan (Detailed Design) Exterior aluminum panels produced by Aleris (Belgium) and fabricated by Bolster Corporation (Taiwan)
Toyo Ito’s Metropolitan Opera House has opened in Taichung, Taiwan. The Japanese architect's latest project was ten years in the making, with designs revealed in 2006 and construction beginning in 2009. The six-story complex is 624,000 square feet in size and features a 2,014-seat grand theater, an 800-seat theater, and a 200-seat black box theater, as well as rehearsal spaces and a restaurant. From an engineering perspective, the building is architecturally complex, erected entirely without beams or columns. It relies on 58 curved wall units to achieve its grand, curved interiors. Support for its construction was donated by the city government to the Ministry of Culture in Taiwan, according to Taipei Times. "I aimed to create the architecture of this opera house in such a way that the inside and outside are continuous in a like manner to how bodies are connected to nature through organs such as the mouth, nose, and ears," Ito told Domus. Ito has earned numerous awards for his designs, including a Pritzker Prize in 2013, and a Thomas Jefferson Medal in Architecture in 2014. The International Museum of the Baroque, designed by Ito, opened in Puebla, Mexico earlier this year. The National Audit Office in Taipei stated that the Metropolitan Opera House will likely run at an annual deficit of $4.7 million, according to Taipei Times. In response, vice supervisor for the theater’s promotional affairs Lin Chia-feng called the government's focus on "profits and losses" a "narrow approach." "The theater also has a mission of assisting and fostering the development of local and national performance troupes,” Lin said.
Dutch studio Mecanoo has unveiled their proposal for a transportation hub in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. The project will be the firm's sixth project in the country and third in Kaohsiung where Mecanoo has an office, located at the Southern end of the Island. Offering integrated train, metro, local, and intercity bus services, along with taxi and bicycle access, the new Kaohsiung Station is the centerpiece of the Kaohsiung Metropolitan Area Underground Railway Project. That project includes seven underground stations spanning a four mile tunnel, however the station aims to contribute significantly to life above ground too. Here, swathes of greenery inhabit the site in the form of green roofs and generous planting arrangements. The rounded roofscape exhibits a sense of calm within what is typically a chaotic environment. Totaling 376,700 square-feet of greenery, the grass on the roof also establishes connections between various modes of transport and is, in Mecanoo's words, meant to "Kaohsiung’s vision for the future as a sustainable city." The building's central hall, located below, opens upwards with a series of oval-shaped lights arranged to form a semi-tessellating pattern in the ceiling. Part of the 139,930 square foot sunken station plaza, the sculpted roof shields the open public plaza from Kaohsiung’s tropical climate. This design allows the space to host events, markets, traditional open air opera, or a mobile libraries, among other activities. “The most important events in Taiwanese villages take place on the main square in front of the temple, lit with traditional red lanterns," said Francine Houben, creative director of Mecanoo. "The central hall has been designed as a contemporary equivalent of this, creating a memorable experience for travelers." "The sprawling green canopy protects the open public plaza underneath from Kaohsiung’s tropical climate like large trees would do," she continued. "Here people can meet, enjoy a refreshing breeze, or visit events that take place at the station, like a farmers’ market, second hand market, traditional open air opera or a mobile library." The building is due to be complete by 2024.
Dutch firm Mecanoo Architecten has been awarded commission to go ahead with their design for a new public library in Tainan, Taiwan. The practice will work alongside Taiwanese firm MAYU Architects+ for the project that will occupy 376,736 square feet. Aside from being a library, the space will feature a children's area, public courtyard, cafe, conference hall, and a 200-seat auditorium. Within the library area itself will be specialized areas such as reading rooms, special collections, and study spaces. Mecanoo have established a strong pedigree when it comes to the library typology, with the well regarded Birmingham Library in the UK to their name along with another library scheme in the making in Manchester, also in the UK. Their design for the Tainan Public Library (its official title) aims to reflect the merging of cultures, generations, and histories within the site. A selection of natural materials including stone and wood consequently aims to attach the building to its locality. In addition, the city's history will be depicted by an ancient map of Tainan transposed onto vertical louvres. The structure, when taken at a glance, also resembles that of Corbusier's Villa Savoye, though on a bigger scale. Upon closer inspection, one can see the buildings perimeter expand at each level, supported by the stilts that follow the perimeter of the top floor. This system results in a canopy being able to offer shade all around the building, amplifying the threshold between the private interior and public exterior spaces. This schematic also effects the interior configuration too. The surrounding wooden fenestration filters sunlight entering the space, interacting and casting patterns on the stone floor. The building's aesthetic is primarily orthogonal, so a curvaceous staircase offers a nice counter, acting as an anchor and reference point for circulation. An open plan scheme allows for adaptation, and Mecanoo has also allocated 139,930 square feet for future expansion. The project is set to cost $44 million and is due to be open to the public at the close of 2018.
After it was found that foam and cooking oil cans were used as filler inside some of the building's concrete beams, the developer and architects associated with the felled 17-story Wei-guan Golden Dragon apartment building in Taiwan have been arrested. The building came down after an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.4 struck the area. According to BBC reporter Rupert Wingfield-Hayes, amid the despair, there is anger. To date, there have been 116 casualties, with 114 of those being from this building. On the night of the earthquake, more than 380 people were reportedly inside when the earthquake struck. Both parties involved with the building's construction, including developer, Lin Ming-hui, and two (unnamed) architects of the Wei-guan Construction Company, have been arrested by the Tainan district court on suspicion of professional negligence leading to deaths and injuries. https://twitter.com/cctvnews/status/698783260369936384?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw The companies that developed the building went out of business after its construction in 1994. Tainan’s Public Works Bureau stated that the structure had not been deemed hazardous after a more powerful earthquake that hit the region in 1999. Acting on behalf of the 93 families involved, the government has sought to freeze the assets of nine people involved (including Lin Ming-hui and the two architects), estimated to be worth $6.6 million.
MVRDV’s winning idea to convert an old shopping mall and parking garage into a public street and urban lagoon
MVRDV, with the Urbanist Collaborative and LLJ Architects, won a competition to transform “T-axis,” 590,000 square feet of China-Town Mall and Haian Road, in downtown Tainan, Taiwan. To reconnect the city and nature, the China-Town Shopping Mall will be removed, a green, public corridor will be built along Haian Road, and an urban lagoon will be created within the former underground parking garage. Construction is planned to begin fall of 2016. In 1983, China-Town Mall was built along the city's canal. However, the structure disconnected the city and its waterfront, “becoming like the rotten tooth of downtown Tainan,” according to MVRDV. The team's proposal aims to establish a city and waterfront connection. After disassembly, China-Town Mall’s exposed structure will be used in a new urban lagoon and green square. This public space will include playgrounds, small commercial units, a tourism info point, a teahouse, and a gallery. A green promenade and artificial beach along the canal will connect the city life to the previously obstructed view of the sea. Streets connecting to the T-axis will also receive greenery and traffic plans, in order to make the entire surrounding area pedestrian friendly. To relieve Haian Road of traffic, new transport nodes will be set in place east of the city. At nighttime, the road will be completely closed, giving pedestrians and small business more room for activities. Currently, pavements throughout T-axis are varied. The winning design proposes unifying pavements based on functions, in order to improve way-finding. To further create cohesion, ventilation shafts, elevators, and entrances to the underground parking garage will be wrapped in glass and extended to create pavilions, kiosks, and viewing towers. The team also worked with the sustainability/landscape consultant Progressive Environmental, structural engineers Urban Sculptor Planning & Designing Consultants, transport planners THI Consultants, and MEP engineers Songsing.
Richard Rogers beats Norman Foster and UNStudio for Taoyuan International Airport terminal commission
Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners have fought off fellow British architecture practice Foster + Partners and Amsterdam-based UNStudio to design the Terminal 3 building at Taoyuan International, Taiwan's largest airport. The firm won by a unanimous decision, AN has learned. In 2014, the airport was the world's 11th busiest passenger airport. The 158-acre airport terminus will see 45 million passengers pass through every year and will be situated adjacent to the China Airlines Headquarters and share some services with neighboring Terminal 2. The building is due to be complete by 2020. Rogers' firm worked with local practice Fei & Cheng Associates and Arup engineers. UNStudio, run by Ben van Berkel, also took the approach of appointing a local firm for the project in working with Bio-Architecture Formosana and April Yang Design Studio. Foster, on the other hand, chose to work individually. Taoyuan International Airport is based 24 miles outside Taipei, the capital of Taiwan and was once known as Chiang Kai-shek International. The winner was selected from a jury comprised Michael Speaks, dean of Syracuse University's school of architecture; Marcos Cruz, director of the Bartlett School of Architecture; and Kwang-Yu King, curator of the 2012 Hong Kong & Shenzhen Biennale.
As we've noted before, water-surrounded Taiwan has become ground zero for ambitious port projects, from Neil Denari's Keelung Harbor to Reiser Umemoto's Kaohsiung Port Terminal. The latest, the Port of Kinmen Passenger Service Center, has just been awarded to Japanese firm Junya Ishigami + Associates, for a series of undulating landform buildings that all but disappear beneath their green roofs. Second and third place went to California firms, Tom Wiscombe Architecture, for a design featuring five crystalline structures hovering over a large box, and Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects (LOHA), for a grid of folded triangular planes weaving through and above a public park. Runners up were Spanish firms EMBT and Josep Mias Gifre. The $62 million Passenger Service Center, located on an island off the Taiwanese mainland, will contain facilities for domestic and international ship arrival, port offices, and commercial, equipment, and administrative uses. The jury included, among others, Japanese architect June Aoki, Mark Robbins, president of the American Academy in Rome; and Jonathan Hill, professor of architecture at the Bartlett School of Architecture in London. The center is expected to eventually accommodate 5 million passengers yearly.
Yet another port in Taiwan is set to become an architectural icon. In 2012 Neil M. Denari Architects won the competition to design the Keelung Harbor Service Project. Before that Reiser Umemoto won a competition to design the Kaohsiung Port Terminal (pictured), which is set to open later this year. Now the Port of Kinmen Passenger Service Center has shortlisted another stellar group of designers. They are: Josep Mias Gifre, Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects, Junya Ishigami + Associates, Tom Wiscombe Architecture, and Miralles Tagliabue EMBT. A winner is expected to be chosen next month.
The International Council of Societies of Industrial Design has designated Taipei as the 2016 World Design Capital. The Taiwanese capital's campaign, "Adaptive City—Design in Motion", highlighted the extensive growth in public transportation, medical systems and cultural infrastructure that has reshaped the city over the past 5 decades. In the wake of its selection Taipei will work closely with the ICSID to implement the program it has planned for 2016. It follows Torino, Seoul, Helsinki, and Capetown as recipients of the biennial award. (Photo: Francisco Diez/Flickr)
Internationally recognized Reiser + Umemoto (RUR Architecture) has announced the groundbreaking of the 675,000-square-foot Taipei Pop Music Center (TPMC) at its new site in Taiwan, which took place on Wednesday. The urban complex confronts the confines of conventional performance spaces, consisting of various multifunctional spaces within a cohesive, vibrant venue that represents evolving pop culture. RUR Architecture, along with Fei & Cheng Associates, received first prize at the Taipei Pop Music Center Competition in 2010 for the versatile design. TPMC operates as a global center for the music industry, and the new center connects theater to public space and commerce. Functioning as a hub dedicated to the celebration, production, and reception of pop music in Taiwan and East Asia, the center is expected to become a powerful symbol of the area's international pop music industry. The project makes gestures to integrate itself into the surrounding city and attempts to respect the framework of Taipei street life, but the structure maintains a distinctive architectural identity beyond the existing city. An elevated public overpass will link complex over a major road. The facility will contain three monumental venues: the Main Hall, Hall of Fame, and Industry Shell. The Main Hall, the largest of the venues, will have a seating capacity of 5,000, another outdoor space cal accommodate 3,000 people and a cubic volume will house the Hall of Fame. The project is expected to be complete in 2015.