Kaohsiung, with a population of around 3 million, located in the south of Taiwan, once a major international harbour, is now a modern, diverse city with a rich cultural offer. The new National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts, occupying a site that was formerly a military training base, symbolises the developing outlook for the city of Kaohsiung and Taiwan – with a mission to connect local and global talent through arts and culture.
Designed by Dutch architects Mecanoo, the single sweeping building covers a surface area of 35 acres (141,000 sqm) and is set in the spectacular 116-acre (470,000 sqm) subtropical park in the heart of Kaohsiung, making it the world's largest performing arts centre under one roof as well as Taiwan's most significant cultural investment in a generation.
The most important clue lay in the city's trees. The banyan is a very large and striking tropical tree. Each mature specimen can become like three or more connecting trees, as the spreading roots thicken and reach up, either to join the primary trunk or form new trunks. Meanwhile the crown of the banyan is thick and very horizontal, a dense canopy that offers protection from rain and sun. In Kaohsiung, everyday events, encounters and gatherings take place literally beneath the banyan trees. The way the people of Kaohsiung use the park, and its banyan trees, showed us how to connect the formal (in this case the formal performing arts) with the informal (people getting together to talk, picnic, perform, practise Tai Chi, meditate or just relax).
We positioned Weiwuying within the park in such a way that we could blur the boundaries between the outside and the inside, and run a superb public space right through the building's ground floor. The plaza works like a banyan tree, gathering and sheltering people while allowing easy movement in and out. With its walkways and informal spaces, it allows people to do all the things they do beneath a banyan tree – even create impromptu performances. The atmosphere there feels exactly right.
It houses four state-of-the-art stages – a concert hall, an Lyric house, a playhouse theatre and a recital hall. Above the auditoria are facilities including rehearsal and event spaces, restaurants and a gallery. All the spaces are sheltered under a single wave of a roof. The building has wide windows and sweeping foyers. Closely connected to the park, it draws people in, whether they are attending an event or not. All the auditoria have their own identity, layout, acoustic and ambience. For example, the layout of the concert hall is very organic in a vineyard style. The recital hall is intimate in character; the lyric house grand.
The roof flows and undulates and, where it dips and touches the earth, it forms a fifth venue – a generous outdoor amphitheatre, with the park providing its informal stage. Including the outdoor theatre, the venues together seat over 7,000 people.
Identifying the right materials and construction method was a challenge, and took considerable research. Because it is open, with no artificial climate control, the Banyan Plaza is subject to almost 100 percent humidity. Moreover, an important part of its drama and character is its curves. We tested various options and found, for example, that neither tiles nor stucco were suitable in such a humid climate. Eventually we had the idea of asking the local shipyards to help us. Together with Dutch engineers, Kaohsiung's shipbuilders came up with the solution – to construct the building, inside and out, using prefabricated steel plates, like a ship. Of course, steel is an excellent material for use in earthquake zones, and the plates allow the building to move when there are tremors.We did not want the facets to look too smooth, and we specified that the curves on the building should flow while still showing the joins between the plates. In fact, on the interior of the building, the joins provide opportunities for fitting lights, and hanging flags and banners.
The overall feeling in the building is very comfortable, however hot and humid the weather. Because of the position of the Banyan Plaza, and the way we created it, we were able to catch the wind from the ocean.The auditoria provide air conditioning, essential for all modern performing arts spaces. However, as you come out into the foyers, the temperature rises a little and then, when you emerge fully into the Banyan Plaza, you are greeted by the soft, warm air from the sea that wafts through the space. It is an extraordinarily pleasant way of re-adjusting gently to the tropical heat of the park outside.
Daylight comes into the building through openings in the roof and walls. But Kaohsiung is a city that dresses up for the evening and as soon as the sun disappears at 6pm, the lights come on, with a wonderful array of colour and pattern. In the Banyan Plaza, we have installed an artificial lighting system that allows many different ways of playing with colour and light; and the most exciting element of our lighting system is a succession of spectacular chandeliers, whose lighting states are completely flexible. They run all the way through the plaza.
建筑设计团队：Mecanoo architecten, Delft
当地建筑团队：Archasia Design Group
机械工程：Yuan Tai, Taipei
电力工程：Heng Kai, Taipei
剧院顾问：Theateradvies, Amsterdam; Yi Tai, Taipei
灯光顾问：CMA lighting, Taipei
防火安全顾问：Ju Jiang, Taipei
风琴顾问：Olivier Latry, Paris
3D顾问：Lead Dao, Taipei
交通顾问：Su International, Taipei
承包方：Chien Kuo Construction Co., Taipei
钢表皮：Centraal Staal, Groningen; Ching Fu, Kaohsiung
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