The National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts (Weiwuying) is slated to become the first national theater in southern Taiwan. Its transformation from a military training base to an international cultural center stands testimony to the advancement of Taiwan's democratic and artistic trajectory.
The vast expanse of land started as a military training and recruitment base in the 1950s, but fell into disuse until the government decided to revitalize the mammoth site in 2003. An international architecture competition was held to solicit global talent, and Dutch firm Mecanoo Architecten acquired the design and construction rights in an intensely challenging final round that saw 44 multinational bids in 2007.
Mecanoo architect Francine Houben's design concept was inspired by the lush banyan trees growing in the nearby 50-hectare Weiwuying Park. The play of light as it shines through banyan leaves and century-old tree trunks gave rise to a vision of "organic architecture,” in which public space breaths in sync with the outdoor activities of its citizens.
Some architectural highlights include a seamless blend of interior and exterior space, achieved by towering, curvaceous walls; fully automated stages in the Opera House and Playhouse that can be configured into prosceniums, or thrust stages; and a 9,085-pipe organ made by German firm Johannes Klais Orgelbau.
While the venue is still under construction, Weiwuying management has been setting the stage for its formal opening by organizing art festivals and orchestrating outdoor performances. Two of its main events - the Weiwuying Arts Festival and Weiwuying Children's Festival - have been in play for over half a decade.
Upon completion, the National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts (Weiwuying) will become Taiwan's largest theater complex at 141,000 square meters. Four indoor stages will offer a total capacity of 6,000: Opera house (2,260 seats), Concert Hall (2,000 seats), Playhouse (1,250 seats), Recital Hall (470 seats), and an amphitheater (1,000 seats).
Work in Progress (2014)
Banyan Plaza (2014)