Image by Iwan Baan.

National Kaohsiung Centre for the Arts

Kaohsiung, Taiwan

Architecture, Interior, Landscape, Theatre / Concert Hall

Size: 141,000 m2
Status: Completed
Project Design: 2007 - 2011
Project Realisation: 2010 - 2018
Address: Zhōngzhèng 1st Rd 7, Kaohsiung, Taiwan
Client: Ministry of Culture (MoC)

Programme: Theatre complex in the Wei-Wu-Ying Metropolitan Park with a total capacity of 5861 seats: Concert Hall 1981 seats, Opera House 2236 seats, Playhouse 1210 seats, Recital Hall 434 seats, public library of 800 m2, rehearsal/education halls for music and dance, 2 congress halls with 100 and 200 chairs and stage building workshops. Including 7ha landscape.

Awards: 1st prize Cityscape Architectural Award, Dubai 2008; 3rd prize International Design Award, IDA Los Angeles 2009; Chicago Athenaeum International Architecture Award 2009; Digital prize at Idea-Tops Awards 2017; Silver in the 2018 New York Design Awards, Architecture - Public & Institutional.

The National Kaohsiung Centre for the Arts symbolizes the transformation of Kaohsiung, once a major international harbour, into a modern, diverse city with a rich cultural climate. Mecanoo designed the National Kaohsiung Centre for the Arts, located on a former military terrain, as an integral part of the adjacent subtropical park to have a positive social impact on the residents of Kaohsiung whose population counts almost 3 million. 

Inspired by the local Banyan trees with their iconic crowns, the vast, undulating structure is composed of a skin and roof, and connects an extensive range of functions. The curved steel structure was built in cooperation between a local and a Dutch shipbuilder. Underneath this roof is Banyan Plaza, a generous, sheltered public space. Residents can wander through here day and night, practice Tai Chi or stage street performances along walkways and in informal spaces.

An open-air theatre nestles on the roof where the structure curves to the ground, with the surrounding park forming the stage. Designed with the subtropical climate in mind, the open structure allows the wind to blow freely through Banyan Plaza. The seamless flow between interior and exterior creates opportunities for crossovers between formal and informal performances. 

Different theatres such as the 1981-seat Concert Hall and 2236-seat Opera House are located in the five cores or ‘legs’ of the building where the structure meets the ground. The cores connect with one another via foyers in the roof and an underground service floor which houses the backstage area of each theatre.

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