Despite the continuous evolution and eruption of the conventional ‘playhouse’, the content of a theatre has very much stayed the same, until now.
Despite the continuous evolution and eruption of the conventional ‘playhouse’, the content of a theatre has very much stayed the same, until now. Regardless of what the aesthetically provocative shell may suggest, the majority of theatres seem to follow an unwritten rule of having a 2,000 seat auditorium, a 1,500 seat theatre, and a black box.
In typical fashion of the firm, OMA have began the building process of a design that strives to puncture through the limitations that architecture typically imposes. Specifically in regard to performance spaces, the design of the Taipei Performing Arts Centre offers an alternative, or perhaps even a progression, to the standard ‘shoebox’ form that dominates the world of theatre.
Based in a vibrant area of Taipei, the structure adds to the diversity of the street with a planet-like sphere that seems to be docking in a huge cubic shape, a rather eye-catching design. However, rather than most conventional theatres that project an iconic exterior image but internally maintain the status quo, it is purely through internal function that the TPAC takes its exterior form. The intricate design comes together to create a theatrical space that can offer itself to a multitude of dramatic ideas. The TPAC houses three performance spaces that can each be used autonomously.
They meet and connect through a central cube which consolidates the stages, backstages and the support spaces into one smooth functioning whole. This interweaving of space, whose content can be merged and modified, gives the opportunity of exploring abstract dimensions whilst also serving as solid and defined set of spaces.
The Grand theatre is a progression of the large 20th century theatre space. Opposite is the Multiform Theatre; a space dedicated to experimental performance, a very strong art form in Taiwan. Coupling both of these spaces furthers the creative potential still; creating the Super Theatre. The Super Theatre is a factory-like environment that makes way for performances which were, up this point, implausible. With a such an expansive space, productions such as B.A. Zimmerman’s opera Die Soldaten, which requires a 100-metre-long stage, can be realised in its full form. With a growing art form such as experimental theatre, the fluidity of the performance spaces are bound to provoke theatre productions yet to be imagined.
Members of the public, whether they are equipped with a ticket or not, are encouraged to explore the awe-inspiring structure, with the street leading into the lobby.
The Public Loop leads audience members, as well as curious passersby, through the infrastructure of the building, creating an interactive atmosphere which engages a broader public and exposes usually hidden production spaces of the theatre.
Ultimately, OMA are implementing the power that architecture holds to actively affect and interact with the environment in which it sits. It is exciting to see an architectural design that meets and reflects the experimental nature of the art of which it is serving.
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