Kaohsiung was once only known for its role as a major international harbour, but a cultural change is on the horizon for the Taiwanese city. Spearheading it, is the upcoming Wei-Wu-Ying Centre for the Arts, designed by Dutch firm Mecanoo. The centre, which is currently approaching the final stages of construction, is set to open its doors in October 2017 and promises to mark Kaohsiung's transformation into a modern and diverse cultural hub.
The undulating structure’s volume was largely inspired by the canopies of the area's mature Banyan trees. Its long and low form – with underlying steel supports – was realised via a close collaboration between the architects, a local firm and a Dutch shipbuilder.
The Banyan Plaza, located at the centre of the construction, is a generous, sheltered public space, where residents are free to wander, day and night. The space located directly above the Plaza is home to the project's large open-air theatre, which is nestled into the roof, at the point where it reaches towards the ground. The surrounding park and landscape forms its stage.
Mecanoo designed the Wei-Wu-Ying Centre with the city’s subtropical climate in mind, so the open-plan structure was built with the intention to allow for the free flow of wind through the centrally placed plaza. A seamless transition between its internal and external spaces creates a strong relationship among the centre’s formal and informal performance zones.
The 141,000 sq m complex is home to a number of theatres – a 2,000-seat concert hall and a 2,250-seat opera hall among them – which sit within the five cores or ‘legs’ of the building, where it reaches the ground. Each of the aforementioned cores connect via a series of foyers on the roof and an underground service floor, which is home to the backstage area.