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© OMA by Chris Stowers


TAIPEI PERFORMING ARTS CENTER OMA / REM KOOLHAAS and DAVID GIANOTTEN Project: Taipei Performing Arts Center Status: Completed Client: Authority-in-Charge: Taipei City Government; Executive Departments: Department of Cultural Affairs, Department of Rapid Transit Systems (First District Project Office), Public Works Department (New Construction Office) Location: Shilin District, Taipei Program: Theater. Total 58,658 m2. One 1500-seat theater and two 800-seat theaters Budget: Estimated: 6 billion Taiwan Dollars (around €180 million) Design Architect: OMA Partners-in-Charge: Rem Koolhaas and David Gianotten Construction Phase (2012 – 2021): Project Director: Chiaju Lin Associates: Paolo Caracini, Inge Goudsmit, Daan Ooievaar Team: Vincent Kersten, Han Kuo, Kevin Mak, Chang-An Liao, with Yannis Chan, Hin-Yeung Cheung, Meng-Fu Kuo, Nien Lee, Nicole Tsai Design Development Phase (2009 – 2013): Project Architects: Ibrahim Elhayawam, Adam Frampton Team: Yannis Chan, Hin-Yeung Cheung, Jim Dodson, Inge Goudsmit, Alasdair Graham, Vincent Kersten, Chiaju Lin, Vivien Liu, Kai Sun Luk, Kevin Mak, Slobodan Radoman, Roberto Requejo, Saul Smeding, Elaine Tsui, Viviano Villarreal-Buerón, Casey Wang, Leonie Wenz Competition Phase (2008 - 2009): Partners-in-Charge: Rem Koolhaas and David Gianotten, in collaboration with Ole Scheeren Project Architects: Adam Frampton, Mariano Sagasta Garcia, André Schmidt Team: Erik Amir, Joshua Beck, David Brown, Jean-Baptiste Bruderer, Andrew Bryant, Sean Hoo Ch'ng, Steven Yingnien Chen, Dan Cheong, Ryan Choe, Antoine Decourt, Mitesh Dixit, Pingchuan Fu, Miguel Huelga de la Fuente, Alexander Giarlis, Richard Hollington, Takuya Hosokai, Shabnam Hosseini, Nicola Knop, Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli, Chiaju Lin, Sandra Mayritsch, Vincent McIlduff, Alexander Menke, Gabriele Pitacco, Shiyun Qian, Joseph Tang, Agustín Pérez Torres, Xinyuan Wang, Ali Yildirim, Patrizia Zobernig COLLABORATORS Executive Architect: KRIS YAO | ARTECH (Architect: Kris Yao; Project Principals: Willy Yu, Grace Lin) Theater Consultant: dUCKS Scéno, Creative Solution Integration Ltd. Acoustic Consultant: Royal HaskoningDHV and Theo Raijmakers (Level Acoustics & Vibration), SM&W Landscape Designer, Interior Designer: Inside Outside Structure, MEP, Building Physics, Fire Engineer: Arup Structural Engineer: Evergreen Consulting Engineering Inc. Services Engineer: Heng Kai Inc., IS Leng and Associates Engineers Fire Engineer: Taiwan Fire Safety Consulting Ltd. Lighting Consultant: Chroma 33 Façade Engineer: ABT, CDC Inc. Sustainability Consultant: Segreene Design and Consulting Landscape Consultant: CNHW Geotechnical Engineer: Sino Geotech Traffic Consultant: Everest Engineering Consultants Inc. Animation: Artefactory Model: RJ Models, Vincent de Rijk Model Photography: Iwan Baan, Jeffrey Cheng, Frans Parthesius Site Photography: Chris Stowers, Shephotoerd Co. Photography Main Construction Contractor: International Engineering & Construction Co., Ltd (former general contractor), Sun-Sea Construction Co. Ltd. (façade continuous construction), Ancang Construction Co. Ltd. (interior & landscape continuous construction), Jung Yan Interior Design & Decoration Co., Ltd., Tech-Top Engineering Co., Ltd. (MEP, fire engineer), Shiu Guan Machine Electric Engineering Co. Ltd. (air-conditioning), Jardine Schindler Lifts Limited (elevator facilities) Theater Equipment Contractor: L&K Engineering Co. Ltd., IX Technology Ltd., JR Clancy, Inc.


An ancient art form for civic participation, theater has evolved into the modern world as a vocation of the culturally refined, with its significance in daily life diminished. Theater space is valued for its potency for formal cultural productions, rather than its power to include and divert, and to be instantaneous. Contemporary performance theaters increasingly become standardized: a combination of two different sized auditoria and a black box, with conservative internal operation principles for authentic work. Can a public theater still be inclusive, accommodating the classic and the serendipitous, the highbrow and the masses, the artistic and the social—a place for the creative life of all?
Located at Taipei’s Shilin Night Market marked by its vibrant street culture, Taipei Performing Arts Center is architecture in limbo: specific yet flexible, undisrupted yet public, iconic without being conceived as such. Three theaters plugged into a central cube allow performing spaces to be coupled for new theatrical possibilities. The cube is lifted off the ground for a Public Loop to extend the street life of Taipei into the theater. New internal possibilities and connections of the theater generate different relationships between producers, spectators, and the public, also a critical mass that works as a fresh, intelligent icon.

The central cube consolidates the stages, back stages, support spaces of the three theaters, and the public spaces for spectators into a single and efficient whole. The theaters can be modified or merged for unsuspected scenarios and uses. The spherical 800-seat Globe Playhouse, with an inner and an outer shell, resembles a planet docking against the cube. Intersection between the inner shell and the cube forms a unique proscenium for experimentation with stage framing. Between the two layers of shells is the circulation space that brings visitors to the auditorium. The Grand Theater, slightly asymmetrical in shape and defying the standard shoebox design, is a 1500-seat theater space for different performing arts genres. Opposite to it and on the same level is the 800-seat Blue Box for the most experimental performances. When coupled, the two theaters become the Super Theater—a massive space with factory quality that can accommodate productions that are otherwise only possible in found spaces. New possibilities of theater configurations and stage settings inspire productions in unimagined and spontaneous forms.

The general public—with or without a ticket—is invited into the theater through a Public Loop, which runs through the theater’s infrastructure and spaces of production that are typically hidden. Portal windows along the Public Loop allow visitors to look at the performances inside and technical spaces in between the theaters.
Different than typical performance centers that have a front and a back side, Taipei Performing Arts Center has multiple faces defined by the theaters protruding above ground. With opaque facades, these theaters appear as mysterious elements against the animated and illuminated central cube clad in corrugated glass. A landscaped plaza beneath the compact theater is an additional stage for the public to gather, in this dense and vibrant part of Taipei.