The firm Mecanoo, based in Delft but also working from London and New York, has completed a cultural complex in the Taiwanese city of Kaohsiung. The National Center for the Arts is a huge complex that attests as much to Taiwan’s economic power as to the internationalization of Mecanoo, recent winner of competitions like those for the New York Public Library renovation and the Shenzhen North Station skyscraper.
Featuring an auditorium and an opera house seating 2,000 and 2,250, respectively, the building exteriorly looks like an enormous rug that captures light through holes, waves to accommodate different uses, and lifts itself off the ground to form a permeable public space and ensure abundant ventilation in subtropical climate.
Though it’s hard not to see an echo of SANAA’s Rolex Center in the waving carpet, the authors claim to have taken inspiration from the local Bengala treetop. The analogy has required an immense structure made of curving elements, the result of collaboration between Dutch and Taiwanese shipbuilders.