National Performing Arts Center, Kaohsiung

Kaohsiung / Taiwan / 2007

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From the Economic City to the Cultural City Cities have mythological origins. Many of them began as religious or political cities, and they have a history of attaining economic prosperity through commercial success, thereby attracting people, gathering things, and concentrating information. Trading is a major factor in this prosperity. Therefore, cities are constructed at the nodes of trading routes. If a city has not only trade, but also its own industry, it will become strong. Most modern cities were premised on their own industries, with large capitalization. After the Industrial Revolution, modernization Ð urbanization through planned industrialization by the nation-states Ð consequently occurred across the whole world. Having port is a big advantage for a city. Kaohsiung conducts trade and industry as one of the largest ports in Asia. It is a strong harbor city and a heavily industrial city. The maritime cities connected with marine routes have gathered many cultures and things along with their economic development, making a new hybrid culture. History teaches us this. However, if such an economic city just continues as an economic city, sooner or later it will begin to decline. If it does not shed its skin to reveal a cultural city at the appropriate time, it is destined for ruin. This is also made clear by history. We could say that the capital of the 20th century is New York. The cityscape of New York was produced by the development power of the American economy and military. Yet New York is not only an economic city. It is also a cultural city. New York and the United States have a considerable cultural domination over the world, especially with pop culture. An economic city cannot be the capital of the world unless it casts off its skin to reveal a cultural city. For example, Paris, the 19th century capital of the world, suffered a standstill from the economic point of view in the middle of the 20th century. Yet in the last two decades of the 20th century, it became a cultural capital again through MitterrandÕs reformation, as if it might again become a frontrunner. The appeal of the city is not its economy but its culture. As Paris has both tradition and vitality, people will visit and enjoy its culture. Even love is accomplished there in movies. A human being is a creature who loves not only delicious fruit, but also flowers purely because of their useless beauty. All nature looks delightful in Taiwan. Filled with greenery and beautiful blooming flowers, Taiwan is a paradise for birds and butterflies. In order for Kaorhsiung to become a leading Asian city, this maritime metropolis in Taiwan must have culture as well as economy. It should transform its natural blessings and economical prosperity into culture. Because culture is a flower, and human beings love flowers. FORMOSA : Cosmic Metropolitan Park Cosmology and Nature-----Connecting Light and Shade The metropolitan park is an extensive and beautiful lush scenery constructed together with NKPAC, where people can enjoy and appreciate the new and invigorating Kaohsiung life. The west side of the park along the freeway consists of parking facilities and a greenbelt, whereas the leisure-commercial district linked with community-based art creation is located on the east side. The verdant trees and lawn connect Zongzheng Park to the north with the athletic park and school area to the south. People can visit this rich and beautiful green park to freshen up or just to walk through, as if enjoying the act of "trespassing." The buildings of NKPAC are arrayed along these scenic walkways through the woods. Needless to say, valuable species of trees, and the pleasant shade they produce, must be conserved. Moreover, we shall proceed with inventive urban greening. The main walkway, which runs from north to south, is called the "Milky Way," as it extends through the park while expanding and shrinking in width like a river. I named this "Milky Way" to evoke the double image of a bright, star-filled night sky, and of exciting nightlife. People can recognize that we are living with nature by the night breezes, moonlight, and babbling of the streams. Babbling streams will create a refreshing auditory coolness, and pergolas will give shelter from the scorching sunlight. Trees along the walkways will create leafy shade, and flowers and street-furniture will be placed for relaxation and tiny oases. At night, pillars of light swaying in the wind will act as guides to the Performing Arts Center. The beautiful avenues of trees stretch in parallel from the parking facilities to the east. I named these avenues in connection with the symbols of the places. From the south, the "Avenue of Wood/–Ø-Jupiter/–ؐ¯" stretches to the open-air theater, named "Jupiter Theater" (symbolizing wood), which is covered with blue ceramic tiles and overlooks the preserved trees. The "Avenue of Water/…-Mercury/…¯" leads to the "Plaza of Water-Mercury," which is pebbled with black cobblestones and has a fountain located at its center. The "Avenue of Fire/‰Î-Mars/‰Î¯" stretches to the "Garden of Fire-Mars" where rich red flowers bloom -- à‚‰Î‰Ô flowers, symbolic of the Kaohsiung district. The "Avenue of Metal/‹à-Venus/‹à¯" leads to the brightly illuminated open-air theater, named the "Venus Theater." The "Avenue of Soil/“y-Saturn/“y¯" stretches to the yellow soil sunken garden, the "Saturn Gate," which will be the subway exit. Blue, black, red, white and yellow are colors that respectively symbolize wood, water, fire, metal and soil in ancient Chinese cosmology/ŒÜs. The above-mentioned east-west avenues traverse the main north-south walkway named the "Milky Way" to connect the various functions at multiple levels, as if it were a new constellation vividly inscribed on the ground. DRUM: Triple Skin Technology and Architecture-----Protecting Sound "Takou/‘ÅŒÛ" the Chinese characters of which means "beating drum," is the former name of Kaohsiung. This huge drum-shaped building reminds us of the ancient Asian bronze ones played in ceremonies and festivals, and embraces a large interior void, separated from the outside. While that type of drum makes sounds by interior reverberations, this drum-shaped building, comprising a double-layer roof and double-layer wall made of reinforced concrete, blocks noise from outside while protecting and keeping sound inside. This double roof and wall functions like a case for a violin. There is a musical instrument inside to be protected. Like a violin in a violin case, it contains a theater or a concert hall that may be perceived as a musical instrument for making beautiful sounds. Our aim is to protect the theater or a concert hall from the noise outside, and maintain its pure sound through a triple-skin composition. Each of these musical instruments - an opera house, a playhouse and a concert hall - make beautiful sounds inside, and so should be protected by individual cases. They should not interfere with each other. The best method of sound insulation would be a separation by triple skin, as well as their distances from each other. While separated, they are still together and enjoy the mutual benefits. Their shared functions may overlap: the rehearsal rooms, the administrative rooms, the restaurant, the library, and the ceremony hall where reception parties or dinners would be held after a gala concert for the season's opening night. Each place for performing art is together yet maintains independence from the others. This is the character of our National Kaohsiung Performing Arts Center project. Concentration will enhance cultural exchange and correspondence, giving people delight and convenience. Needless to say, it will also attract and gather people. All of this good fortune is owed to its location, surrounded by beautiful trees in a huge metropolitan park. This loose alliance of each building can only form an attractive space in such a green environment, where people walk, stay and chat freely each day and night. The height of the buildings is adjusted to the Banyan trees that dominate the landscape here. Three drum-shaped buildings stand gently among strong Banyan trees, and the common building takes the shape of a mound extending horizontally, standing in harmony with this green landscape. The contrast and harmony between nature and artifice will form an attractive environment, attracting us in the same way as a fugue in music or a song in a circular canon of tenor, baritone, bass, soprano and alto voices. BAMBOO: Archipelago Model Ecology and Life-----Networking Places While maintaining their mutual identities, the opera house, the concert hall, and the playhouse are arranged like siblings. They seem to gather at the same table, and smile at each other while absorbed in their own thoughts. The space produced by these three similar volumes is suffused with a serene atmosphere, as if they are talking in whispers. However, its nature is different from a plaza like that of the Metropolitan Opera House in New Yorkfs Lincoln Center, which is ostentatious, over-dignified, classical, and static. A more informal and fluid space is produced here, as if the interstitial space is constantly changing. By maintaining their independence, there is a flow of air that never becomes stagnant. This could be called a sculpting of good ventilation. This is a common necessity for architecture in Asian monsoon regions. They have no formality or axes. They abhor rigid expressions. This is like bamboo, spreading a network of rhizomes, with bamboo shoots growing here and there, reminding us that the aboriginal name of Kaohsiung meant gbamboo." The raised floors become terraces, and the large roofs cast deep shadows. This helps to diminish the heat of the sun and brings in cool breezes. People have long pursued the creation of this kind of architecture. This suggests a new attitude toward the enjoyment of opera. It could be a magnificent fiction, attracting dressed-up people to enjoy expensive champagne and pretentious conversation. Nevertheless, under globalization today, we have come to know that culture develops its own style with the locality it possesses. Looking back on the history of opera, which is the ultimate integrated form of human musical and dramatic expression, filled with excess, voluptuousness, and brilliance, attracting so many people in so many countries, and aware that new opera houses are being planned and constructed in many Asian countries, it seems obvious that a new form of appreciation and production of opera should appear in Asia. In Taiwan, especially in Kaohsiung located south of the Tropic of Cancer, this will be an informal and accessible one. At sunset, as the intense daytime heat fades, the people of Kaohsiung begin to go walking in small groups. This metropolitan park is a good place to walk. People will pass by, pass through and drop in at NKPAC, each in their own way, anticipating encounters with new knowledge and pleasure, music and drama, art and life, and friends. People will anticipate new experiences through use of the outdoor spaces. Enjoying outdoor space is typical of the Taiwanese lifestyle. It is reminiscent of the crowds at the outdoor night markets. We regard this project as the formation of new topography. We can enjoy taking a walk through islands, climbing up the hills, descending into valleys, tracing streams to enjoyable spots and walking in midair. This is a new architectural experience for enjoyable space. A field dotted with meaningful places and an expression of movement to connect them. That is an Archipelago model for Asia, and is similar to the free sea routes through and around a constellation of islands.
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    From the Economic City to the Cultural City Cities have mythological origins. Many of them began as religious or political cities, and they have a history of attaining economic prosperity through commercial success, thereby attracting people, gathering things, and concentrating information. Trading is a major factor in this prosperity. Therefore, cities are constructed at the nodes of trading routes. If a city has not only trade, but also its own industry, it will become strong. Most modern...