The extraordinary OMA performing arts center is ready for the show

After 10 years of construction and 13 years since it was first commissioned, OMA’s remarkably ambitious Taipei Performing Arts Center is finally complete in Taiwan. The eye-catching building takes the form of a large cube, with three domed theaters emerging from it.

The Taipei Performing Arts Center was made in collaboration with engineering giant Arup and is located at the Shilin Night Market in Taipei. According to FinancialTimesits budget was TWD 6.7 billion (about $220 million).

Much of the building’s available floor space of 59,000 square meters (approximately 635,000 square feet) is taken up by the large central cube, which is raised above the ground on supports to create a public plaza below. The cube houses backstage, foyers and support facilities, as well as access to the three projecting theaters.

Of these, the 800-seat spherical Globe Playhouse is clearly the most striking and projects outwards 26 m (85 ft). The Grand Théâtre, on the other hand, accommodates 1,500 seats, while opposite and on the same level is the multifaceted 800-seat theater, Blue Box, which is used for experimental presentations. Additionally, the Blue Box and Grand Theater can also be combined to become a 2,300-seat “Super Theater” if required.

The Taipei Performing Arts Center is anchored by a central cube, which is raised above the ground to create a public plaza

Chris Stowers Photography

“Different from typical performance halls which have a front side and a back side, the Taipei Performing Arts Center has multiple faces defined by theaters that protrude from the ground,” explained the OMA. “With opaque facades, these theaters appear as mysterious elements against the bustling, illuminated central cube covered in corrugated glass. A landscaped plaza below the compact theater is an additional stage for audiences to gather, in this dense and vibrant part of Taipei.”

Elsewhere, the general public can tour the interior even without a ticket, via a public loop that runs through the building. This pathway offers glimpses of production areas, technical spaces, and even performance spaces through porthole-style windows.

During the design phase, OMA had to take local seismic conditions into account. The building is therefore insulated base, which reduces the shaking experienced during an earthquake. Additionally, the design has some degree of thought for sustainability. It is partially topped by green roofs and has also been designed to maximize passive ventilation, reducing cooling costs, while part of its facade is shaded to reduce solar heat gain.

Test performances took place between March and May and now that it is finally complete, the theater will officially open to the public in August.

Sources: AMO, Arup

William E. Bennett