The Kaohsiung Maritime Cultural and Popular Music Center evokes a giant vessel moored at the quay. Both preposterous and appropriate, the Center is the icon, the scenic landmark. The concept is that of a dynamic, vertical-horizontal public space—a twenty-four-hour attraction. By day the Center is an iconic silhouette against the Kaohsiung sky and by night a luminous showplace, an animated marquee on a grand scale. It is a symbol for the city and a place for all the people—a great symbol of Kaohsiung’s maritime heritage and its music industry future. It is a place where everyone can experience the loftiest position of privilege and the most serene moment of peace and contemplation, a place where the youth of the city and its internationally renowned community of commerce can come together to celebrate, party and relax in the beauty of their home—a place of origins, new and old.
Architect: Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects Location: Kaohsiung, Taiwan Project Team: Mack Scogin (Principal), Merrill Elam (Principal), Jared Days Serwer (Project Manager), Matthew Brown, Winiensamo Chen, Esther Chiu, Barrett Feldman, Michael Filisky, Margaret Fletcher, Kevin Gotsch, Helen Han, Christopher Hoxie, Hanyun Hsu, Carrie Hunsicker, Alan Locke, Ted Paxton, Jennifer Pindyck, Sheri Schmieder, Bud Shenefelt, Kimberly Shoemake-Medlock, Chelsea Spencer, Clark Tate, Barnum Tiller, Supaporn “B” Vithayathaworngwong, Matthew Weaver, Rubi Xu, Yao Zhang Executive Architect: Fei & Cheng Associates Theater Design: Fisher Dachs Associates Acoustics: Jaffe Holden Lighting Design: Tillotson Design Associates Local Lighting Design: Redhouse Design Group Landscape Architect: Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates Local Landscape Architect: Environmental Arts Design Mechanical Engineer: Max Fordham Local HVAC Mechanical Engineer: I.S. Lin and Associates Structural Engineer: Jane Wernick Associates Local Structural Engineer: Supertech Consultants International Façade/Glass Engineer: Dewhurst Macfarlane and Partners Life Safety: Arup Local Geotechincal Engineer: Sino Geotechnology Local Electrical and Plumbing Engineer: Godson Engineering Design Co., Ltd Local Environmental Engineer: Leaderman & Associates Local Traffic Engineer: ATCI
The Center is a threshold where the waters of the river and the sea meet the complexity of commerce and the urban condition—an urban catalyst inviting the people of Kaohsiung to the water’s edge. The entire site including the harbor is a place of performance where a single impromptu sidewalk act to a major concert and everything in between coexists within the site and buildings lending almost infinite flexibility and variety. The transformability of the main stage of the Large Performance Hall uniquely extends the performance / audience relationship. Enhanced by the use of projection and infrastructure, performance resonates at a mega-scale and simultaneously within the smallest, most intimate spaces of the buildings and the landscape.
The scheme concentrates all the energy of the Center at the mouth of the Love River, tight to the urban fabric. The two major components of the program, the Pop Music Center and the Marine Culture Exhibit Center, are deployed on either side of the mouth of the river, joined by a pedestrian connector. The Pop Music Center is held in check at the wharf by the “tugboat effect” of the Marine Culture Exhibit Center and by the tow line of the connector spanning between, signifying their implied and real inter-reliance.
By stacking the program elements vertically and clustering them tight against both sides the river, the site is reserved as open park space for performance, for public use or for future expansion / development. The stacking of program elements initiates a vertical procession in the urban fabric and positions the public at a place of privilege atop the Pop Music Center at the Vertical Meander overlooking the city and the harbor.
In conjunction with the existing parks to the southeast and southwest, a substantial green swath now nurtures the river’s mouth and provides a revitalized water’s edge for the people of Kaohsiung City and their visitors. The landscape is a cast of distinctive leading characters collected to perform in response to their adjacent audiences of varying urban conditions. The landscape functions at once in support of the building and planning strategies of the scheme and as an autonomous urban retreat.
Both nautical and theatrical in character, the Center is unique in the world, born of the vibrancy of Kaohsiung City and its maritime culture, and of the energy and phenomenon of popular music—a kind of friendly creature that can be found only in Kaohsiung.