Taipei Performing Arts Center: a theater that’s a part of people’s lives
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Taipei Performing Arts Center: a theater that’s a part of people’s lives

Three theaters in one as a symbol of a city’s desire to experiment


Taipei Performing Arts Center: a theater that’s a part of people’s lives
By Editorial Staff -

In commissioning the Taipei Performing Arts Center, the City of Taipei was aiming to attract people to the theatrical arts and inspire minds. Designed by OMA architects Rem Koolhaas and David Gianotten, the complex is in Taipei’s bustling Shilin Night Market neighborhood, an area known for its vibrant street culture, a deeply entrenched part of the life of the city. The project is intended to restore theater’s original role as an ancient artform involving community participation and inclusion, something quite different from the cultural stereotypes and formalisms it’s taken on over time.


Three theaters in one

Taipei Performing Arts Center, OMA © Shephotoerd Co. Photography, courtesy of OMA

As the performing arts have grown increasingly formalized, theater architecture has become standardized, closed off from life around them as cultural temples only accessible to the few. As a public building intended to host popular culture, art, and creativity, the Taipei Performing Arts Center has turned this on its head.

To achieve it, the building has been lifted off the ground to create a street-level plaza. A Public Loop then connects the plaza with the volumes above, running through them to form a pathway that brings the life out on the street into the theater. It’s a show in itself for people without a ticket and an invitation for them to take part in the life of the theater, walk through it, explore it, and access areas that are typically hidden from the public. Shows can even be viewed from the Public Loop as well as the behind-the-scenes spaces.

The center has three separate theaters arranged around a central cube, which makes it possible to modify and combine them. The Globe Playhouse is a spherical room that seats 800. It was conceived as a planet propped up against the façade, whose proscenium is formed by the sphere’s intersection with the cubic space. The Grand Theater seats 1500 people in an asymmetrical volume that creates an interplay with the offset parallel planes of a rectangular prism. Finally, the 800-seat Blue Box is for experimental performances. The Grand Theater and Blue Box can be joined by the central cube to create a super theater, a unique space offering unprecedented flexibility in terms of configurations and set design.


>>> Discover the Repentigny theater.



All-round architecture

Taipei Performing Arts Center, OMA © Shephotoerd Co. Photography, courtesy of OMA

Unlike more traditional theaters, the Taipei Performing Arts Center has no discernable front or back. From outside, it appears as a series of opaque, silent, and mysterious volumes that interpenetrate via the animated and luminous central cube, covered in corrugated glass. The volumes generate asymmetries and geometries interrupted by the spherical element that houses the Globe Playhouse. This almost “spatial” volume is grafted onto the façade and is supported by two inclined pillars that converge towards the center of the sphere.

The theater is a new means for bringing people closer together socially through the performing arts and to experience different forms of theater. As Rem Koolhaas, founder of OMA, says:

“When we first visited Taipei for the competition, we felt it was a city with an appetite for experimentation. This building is a response to that discovery. We put three traditional theaters together in a way that offers theater makers completely new opportunities to conceive shows and performances.”


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Location: Shilin District, Taipei
Total Area: 58.658 m2
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)
Complection: 2021
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

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)

Photography by Shephotoerd Co. Photographt, courtesy of OMA

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