If there is a climate of extremes, it is in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, where typhoons, high temperatures, heavy rains and earthquakes are tragedies that play out daily. The city’s brand new National Arts Center, signed Mecanoo, therefore needed a perspective rooted in resilience, as well as in aesthetics.
Built on a military base that has become an urban park in central Kaohsiung, Taiwan, the National Arts Center, designed by Mecanoo, covers 140,000 m2. Originally, the banyans which hosted the architects on the site in 2006. Thus was born the idea of a complex which, like the tree with protective and expansive forms, would simultaneously accommodate formal and informal spaces. In a city vibrating with the sounds of artists housed under its trees, this would be a perpetually living building. From previous trials where Mecanoo had experimented with the wavy shapes of the banyan tree, the team set out to find the ideal backing material. Inspiration is near! Thanks to its port, the city offers a refined know-how of shipbuilding. In this way, the Banyan Plaza takes shape, resembling a cargo ship, with a steel hull. Partially open, it forms an ideal public space for cinema or yoga meetings. In the four corners, its trunks house four foyers: the concert hall, the recital hall, the lyric theater and the Playhouse for dramatic and dancing performances. In each one floats a unique atmosphere, created by the acoustic genius of Albert Xu and the judicious juxtaposition of materials and colors. Outside, where the roof meets the ground, the composition transforms into an amphitheater which casually turns the park into its backdrop.