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Taiwan’s Taipei Performing Arts Center Reimagines Theater Design – A Cube & Ball Spectacle


The long-awaited Taipei Performing Arts Center finally had its public debut last week in Taiwan’s capital, more than a decade after it first broke construction.  

On August 7, 2022, the venue was inaugurated with a performance by the Taipei Symphony Orchestra, kicking off their season of plays and concerts spread among the three theatres. 

The Taipei City Government commissioned the project to aid regional performing arts organizations. The project was initially scheduled to be finished in 2013, but development didn’t start until 2012 and didn’t reach its peak until 2014. 

Ko Wen-Je, the mayor of Taipei, officially opened the facility, which is sitting atop Taiwan’s largest and most well-known Shilin Night Market. The use of this location is intended to increase the number of people who can attend concerts. 

The public can now visit the brand new $220 million (6.7 billion New Taiwan dollars) performing arts center, which houses three distinct theatres. 

Redefining how theatres can operate!! 

Video Source: 88DesignBox

The Netherlands-based Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) and Taiwanese design firm Kris Yao Artech collaborated to create the Taipei Performing Arts Center (TPAC), which was the result of OMA’s victory in the center’s 2009 design competition. 

Three performance rooms that jut sharply from the building’s cubic center make up its distinctive design. The asymmetric Grand Theatre is by far the largest, with 1,500 seats. However, the 800-seat Globe Playhouse, a spherical silver theatre covered in corrugated glass, is the landmark’s most recognizable aspect. Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), the Dutch company in charge of the project, likened it to “a planet docking against the cube.” 

The central cube is raised above the ground to accommodate the space, and it is surrounded by a landscaped plaza. TPAC also has a corridor lined with portal windows that allow members of the public to view orchestra rehearsals whether or not they have concert tickets. 

Regarding the competition’s initial visit to Taipei, Koolhaas said of the building’s design, “We believed it was a city with a thirst for experimentation.” This structure is a result of the finding. Three conventional theatres were combined by us in a way that gives theatre creators entirely new possibilities for designing spectacles and performances. 

According to Kris Yao of Kris Yao Artech, “TPAC provides to the people of Taipei a strange yet familiar setting.” “It is in many respects fresh, strange, and extraordinary, yet it is also warm, close, and welcoming. People adore it because it blends in so well with Taipei’s unique qualities. In every respect, it is a truly public structure. 

The architects envisioned three distinct theatres that “plug” into a central hub in an effort to challenge the “conservative” paradigm of performing arts venues (where each auditorium has its own stage, front-of-house, and support services). Here, a common backstage area has been set up to accommodate everyone. One performance space known as a “Super Theater” can be created by combining the Grand Theater and a second 800-seat venue called the Blue Box. 

Efficiency played a role in these choices as well; by condensing the venue’s interior operations, the architects conserved space in a north Taipei district known for its bustling night market. The promotion of interactions between actors, producers, crew, and audience members who might not normally cross paths was another advantage for Gianotten. 

Gianotten continued: “To us, what was really exciting was having all these types of energy — guests coming in anticipation, people who are creating, and people who are performing — all together. There is no connection” between various performance areas in typical venues, he added. Opportunities that would not typically exist begin to exist. 

Austin Wang, the CEO of the center, agrees that the adaptability of the auditoriums offers new creative opportunities for directors and performers. In a phone conversation, he stated that “these are types of venues that haven’t been seen in anywhere in Taiwan, or abroad.” Therefore, the creativity of the next artists (performing here) is entirely up to them. 

OMA’s founder and architect Rem Koolhaas claims that despite the venue’s form being both enigmatic and recognizable, its design is based on very simple geometry. 

In a video interview with CNN, he said, “In the early 21st century, there has been… an apparent need to make buildings stranger and stranger. The only spectacle in this scenario was created by simply taking the exact outer shapes of each component that had to be combined, almost mathematically. 

The design was first conceived by architect David Gianotten, general partner of OMA, and architect Rem Koolhaas in 2008. “They are two very well-known shapes: a cube and a ball,” Gianotten continued. However, when you put them together, they produce something that wasn’t there before. 

The Taipei City Government commissioned the arts center, which will run primarily on public funds. According to Wang, the institution only needs to raise roughly 8% of its yearly budget in revenue during its first year of operation. It’s anticipated that this contribution will increase to about 50% during the next twenty years. 

The Taipei Performing Arts Center is one of many significant cultural centers that have recently opened in Taiwan. The recently constructed Taipei Music Center, located about five miles to the theater’s southeast, has a concert hall with a seating capacity of 5,000. The National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts, a 1.5 million square foot complex with five significant performance venues, including an opera house, opened in the city of Kaohsiung, about 185 miles south of Taipei, in 2018. 

Taiwan’s standing as a developing cultural center has been further strengthened by the island’s reputation for encouraging free artistic expression and the success of international events like the Taipei Dangdai contemporary art fair. 

According to Wang, long-standing geopolitical concerns with China, which regards Taiwan as a part of its sovereign territory, have a direct impact on public funding for the arts. 

We frequently contrast ourselves with the mainland, which is expanding and becoming more powerful, he remarked. Therefore, since culture is our best competitive advantage, we prefer to invest more in that area. 

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