Lyrical Seashore, a competition entry for the Kaohsiung Maritime Culture and Pop Music Center, embraces a sizable portion of the city’s harbor. In one sweeping move, the one million square feet simultaneously operate at the levels of architecture and urban design. The Lyrical Seashore project was designed as a catalyst to turn the Port of Kaohsiung, which transformed from a small lagoon in the 1640s to a major export harbor of agricultural products during Japanese rule in the first half of the 20th century and then to one of the world’s top container ports, into a major tourism, trade, and transit port. The project distributes volumes of program on a prominent tray of liminal land with the intention of intensifying the urban pulse of the populace.
The sensuous yet logical form of sea creatures, ships, and the fluidity of music are the three themes drawn from the program and the site, setting the tone for the seductive spatiality and repertoire of shapes.
Taiwan seeks to be at the forefront of the global art scene and to enter the circuit of world-class super stars as well as performance groups. The shared aspiration for this project is that it will make Taiwan a center of creativity for Chinese-language pop music and performing arts. That can only be achieved by meshing its international goals with the acknowledgment of its unique cultural identity. Because of its remarkable industrial role on the growth economy of Asia, Kaohsiung City anchors its urban image as a “marine city”. The essence of this marine capital of the twenty-first century is marine life, tourism, performing arts and audio-visual productions. More recently, this metropolis has been an incubator for pop music renaissance that in the future will breed and develop its raising pop music industry. To that effect “the architecture of the main performance hall and the maritime culture center should take on a youthful, energetic, cheerful and yet artistic personality.” This is the foundation of the proposed design.
The roadmap to a unifying urban machine hinges upon the breaking down of the massing in smaller parts shaped by the metaphor of the sea world. While separate in their program they house, the formal commonalities shared across all facilities make this an intelligible proposition for a unique city experience. The electrifying addictive pulse of popular music and the commanding vastness of the ocean with its multifarious natural forms are steady inspirational sources for Lyrical Seashore. Music melds primordial rhythm and unforgettable melodies to induce cathartic experiences in the listeners. Whereas both the natural-made forms of the aquatic world and the man-made shapes conceived to navigate its immensity are suave and seductive in their remarkable capacity to meet practical function. With the force of these environmental elements sculpting the visual landscape, this project takes a poetic leap to offer a romantic view of that spaciousness offering places to experience the local culture and living style. The design intent is to de-institutionalize the architecture by distributing program elements on a single pedestrian path.
The hypnotic geometry of marine creatures set offs pictures of an underwater landscape, endlessly fascinating in its sweeping elegance. The string of tightly knitted sea shells-like beads lapping onto each other accommodates the distinct performance areas. Welded together, they amount to one powerful image. Strolling, listening, shopping, and playing coexist. The soaring scale of the scenic landmark signals the location of the Marine Culture Exhibit Center. Such vertical marquee extends its long shadows way further than its immediate premise to captivate the imagination of city dweller from afar. With the assertive horizontality of the sea plane, the monumental mast of a metaphorical ship bestows orientation and character. It takes center stage in redrafting the 21st-century skyline of the city.
Taken individually, each portion of the complex casts visual appeal to passers-by. When seen from the opposite side of the bay, the Marine Culture Exhibit Center appears like a high-tech slow-moving mollusk resting on a temporary surface. The bustling of activities in it showcases its benevolent effects on the community. Seen from the Marine Culture Exhibit Center, the Small Performance Hall projects its grandeur day and night, whereas the Large Performance Hall and the Outdoor Performance Area become the yin and yang in the proposed master vision. With the heroic hovering of canopy protecting the Large Performance Hall, place-making is well on its way. Straddling the monumental and the informal, the project invites personal experiences as well as large-group participation. It is a city within the city, with its hierarchy of open spaces, fronts and backs, nooks and crannies.
Two fingers of facilities flank an indoor concert hall and outdoor performance area including a large indoor 5,000-seat concert hall and a 12,000-seat outdoor performance area. Facing the city, the project appears like a two-story curtain of architectural objects, with portals functioning as public plazas protecting views of the water. Containing a dense network of retail and restaurant elements, as well as large cultural institutions, the most significant is a string of individual performance spaces between the auditoria, housing restaurants, shops, and a recording studio at the tail end along the denser side of the city. These elements blend into a necklace of buildings that secure human activities on a 24-hour cycle, avoiding the ghost-town effect sometimes seen with similar projects after hours. Standing opposite, in a more industrial in nature area, is the Marine Culture Exhibit Center, a music innovation center and a leaning landmark “sail-like” observation tower that is the inevitable new landmark on the city skyline.
Throughout the project, large curving sun canopies are covered with photovoltaics to produce on-site energy. The existing curvilinear railway line is used as a bicycle path, and the shape of the site itself triggers the fluid geometry of the final form.
City of Kaohsiung, Kaohsiung, Taiwan
Renderings by Form4 Architecture / Downtown
F4 Team: John Marx
2015 Shortlist, Future Projects/Office Award, World Architecture Festival 2014 Public Building Concept, Honorable Mention, Re-thinking the Future Awards 2012 Award Winner, Chicago Athenaeum American Architecture Award