Accompanied by Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) and globally acclaimed conductor Chien Wen-pin (簡文彬), Culture Minister Cheng Li-chiun visited Kaohsiung on March 14 to experience the aural charms of southern Taiwan’s upcoming cultural landmark – the National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts.
Hailed as the largest design project in Taiwan, the Center is built on the grounds of a former military camp spanning almost 10 hectares in the harbor city of Kaohsiung. Construction first began in 2001 and is slated for completion in October 2018.
Its marine-inspired curvaceous exterior was designed by Francine Houben, founding partner of Dutch architecture firm Mecanoo, and abstract elements were taken from the surrounding banyan trees to give the Center an organic, transparent finish.
The Center comprises four venues: the Lyric Theater, Playhouse, Recital Hall, and Concert Hall. The latter with 2,000 seats is Taiwan’s first-ever venue that has a vineyard-style auditorium with serried rows. Such design shortens the distance of sound wave reflections to deliver the best acoustic experience while making audiences feel closer to the stage.
Produced by German manufacturer Johannes Klais Orgelbau, the pipe organ inside the Concert Hall is the largest one in Asia with 9,085 ranks of pipes. The specifications are the same as that of world-class venues Elbphilharmonie, Philharmonie de Paris, Berliner Philharmonie, Walt Disney Concert Hall, and Suntory Hall.
Upon the Center’s completion this October, the Ministry of Culture will hand over operations to the National Performing Arts Center, the nation’s highest-level independent cultural institute that also oversees the National Theater and Concert Hall in northern Taiwan and the National Taichung Theater in central Taiwan.
Culture Minister Cheng noted that the Kaohsiung landmark is key to the structural upgrade of the arts education and cultural environment in southern Taiwan, and hopes that such a performance center of world-class caliber will inspire a new generation of local artists and enhance the unique aesthetics of Taiwan.