Done in partnership with Christopher Savanelli. We were featured on suckerpunch!
Robert Somol opens his lecture in Michigan with this project! (He talks about it at 8:00 and 1:16:00)
This project addresses the scope and complexity of requirements by proposing that the site be treated as a thick surface, embedded with multiple systems that define suitable modes of occupation through their overlap and interference.
The bay of Kaohsiung is sandwiched between one of the world’s largest operating commercial and industrial docks and the mouth of Love River, on the edge of the economic, political, and demographic center of the city. The competition brief called for 790,000 sq.ft. of program to be distributed on 11 hectares of urban waterfront connected to the sites for the new Port Station and Ferry Terminal. The site is primarily surrounded by residential construction with a few office buildings lining the main street, which marks a hard edge between the city and the Harbor. The project includes performance venues, spaces for the production and dissemination of audio-visual materials, exhibition centers, commercial and public spaces, and administrative offices.
As metropolitan economies outgrow their bases in industrial manufacturing and trade into global markets for cultural production and consumption, large tracts of now disused land are being redeveloped to serve contemporary cultural institutions. Because of its siting, scale, and programmatic requirements this competition provides an opportunity to gage the disciplinary standing of architecture in an environment where its boundaries are becoming increasingly blurred with the neighboring fi elds of landscape design and urbanism.
The design of Kaohsiung’s new Cultural Campus is guided by the assumption that architecture’s position in this expanded field allows it to draw on a broader palette of environmental variables as material for spatial differentiation, and to incorporate urban organizational logics in its diagrams. Strategies from landscape design are used to create shifting microclimates that are brought together in a network. To avoid a strict functional division of activities, the campus plan relies on tactical grouping of spaces by atmospheres. The resulting programmatic mix allows the distinct zones created around the Concert Halls, Pop Museum, and Marine Culture Center to be populated throughout the daily and yearly cycles. In other words, as the intensity of activity in one zone of the project increases or decreases, other zones respond accordingly.
Topography acts as a structural field, allowing some degree of control over fluctuations in climate and program by influencing the movement of air and bodies, but the ambitions of the project extend beyond integrating systems of environments and flows. The thickened urban surface blends object/environment and figure/field relationships through plastic articulation and repetition. The artificial terraign becomes an agent of culture by way of figuration, resulting in a cartoon urbanism.
Prior to the definition of form the design process considered environmental variables such as heat, light, and sound exchange, as well as various modes of circulation to come up with a planning strategy. Programmatic adjacencies were determined by rating every space according to these parameters in order to achieve a higher degree of flexibility for each of the major campus zones than the competition guidelines allowed.
The compounded effects of the project’s artificial systems and macro-climatic forces over a prolonged period were studied as an x-ray plan. The dark areas of this drawing designate zones of entropy – largely unaffected by artificial energy these patches of ground and water follow the natural cycle. Elsewhere excess heat is harnessed to extend outdoor activities (such as swimming) into the colder seasons; sound is channeled in a controlled way to create audiences beyond the confines of the concert hall and the arena, extending performances to an urban beach amphitheatre and allowing events like tailgating parties for the opera; humid ocean winds are allowed to permeate interiors of markets and exhibitions to connect physically and visually separate subjects with tactile and olfactory experiences.
The broad range of activities that results from acknowledging the ever-shifting presence of crowds and individuals allows the Cultural Campus to be an integral part of the city, as well as a center of cultural production and consumption.
Pop Music and Marine Culture are understood as elastic categories, encompassing various activities that change with time. Small studios and auditoria arranged throughout the site provide budding musicians and amateurs with access to professional equipment and performance spaces used by mainstream music labels and Pop stars. Daytime restaurants and cafйs host up-and-coming acts at night, providing invaluable exposure to executives on the hunt for new talent.
Marine Culture can be used to designate industrial and economic activities, as well as biological ecosystems that may be seen as threatened by their expansion. The campus environment is structured to foster the understanding that industrial and natural systems are not mutually exclusive, by allowing both processes to occur in parallel.
Pragmatic requirements for water retention and purification are seen as an opportunity to include areas of wetlands, which use duckweed, algae, and shellfish for wastewater treatment. As a kind of an outdoors study hall, these ponds exhibit natural technology alongside wharfs that dock industrial and commercial ships. One of the three Marine Exhibition halls connected to the Learning Center below the water level houses a small boat repair shop. By sharing in the museum admission price, this business can offer reduced service fees, contributing to a diverse harbor culture.