‘Cloud Boxes’ by SANAA is the winning entry for the Taichung City Cultural Center design competition, which envisioned the city as a metropolis where arts and culture forms the focal point of its identity. Led by Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, the proposal was a collaborative effort with local firm Ricky Liu & Associates Architects + Planners.

Taichung City Cultural Center Image Credit: SANAA via Taichung City Cultural Center

Taichung City Cultural Center
Image Credit: SANAA via Taichung City Cultural Center

Underneath this project, lies a greater objective and motivation that could impact the overall image of the city. Other than meeting the brief of integrating a public library with a fine arts museum, the cultural center attempts to create a local identity that expresses the optimism and creativity of the locals. Taichung city had a major merger with Taichung County in December 2010, which saw its population raising from 1 million inhabitants to 2.5 million. The 2013 international competition represented a significant aim to unite the newly formed city, honouring unique cultures of both regions. The Taichung City Cultural Center forms a component of a cultural park plan situated in the gateway city district, and it is expected to become a landmark in the third-largest city of Taiwan.

Good visibility between the building interior and external open plaza

Good visibility between the building interior and external open plaza

The overall design and material treatment completes a simple complex which appears light within the large site. For the facade, translucent mesh was selected over rigid vertical walls to form curving curtains that encompassed the buildings, draping elegantly off the roof edge. This gave an expression of openness and fluidity between the interior and open exterior. Within the cultural centre, white cubic volumes are arranged at angles to one another and overlap at the corners to link permanent exhibition spaces, libraries and reading areas. Other programs include administration offices, multimedia and internet resource centre, special collections area, and rooftop terraces, which are connected via floating walkways. Architectural voids defined these circulation belts, demonstrating consistency in the feeling of physical lightness.

 

Scattered arrangement of cubic volumes and integration at corners Image Credit: SANAA via Taichung City Cultural Center

Scattered arrangement of cubic volumes and integration at corners
Image Credit: SANAA via Taichung City Cultural Center

The spatial planning presents a collection of buildings that creates voids and plazas that are equally activated. The same language can be observed from the plans and sections, whereby mezzanine levels are scattered across the three main floors. Each level presents a mix of permanent and informal activity zones which attracts people with different interests to coexist at a common space. This dispersal of programmes remove hierarchical distinction between different functions, therefore it showcases the accommodation of disparate cultures.

Sections Image Credit: SANAA via Taichung City Cultural Center

Sections
Image Credit: SANAA via Taichung City Cultural Center

 

This project exhibits the approach to draw focus on art and culture activities, in order to bring about social integration within the  community. Whilst maintaining efficiency of circulation within the complex, the programmatic planning was well distributed to increase chanced encounters. The harmonized language of openness and interconnections exudes a welcoming impression that invites people from all walks of life. Similarly, this is a case that can be applied to Singapore where the community is consisting of people with varied backgrounds, culture and even nationality. The concept of physical integration and reduction of boundaries could possibly be a good approach for a dynamic community. Accepting diversity is a crucial point for community bonding as we ensure fair opportunities are provided and no individual will be excluded.

 

References

Chin, Andrea. “SANAA wins taichung city cultural center competition” 11 Sep 2013. Designboom. Accessed 02 Mar 2014. <http://www.designboom.com/architecture/sanaa-wins-taichung-city-cultural-center-competition/>

Jose Luis Gabriel Cruz. “SANAA’s ‘Cloud Boxes’ Wins First Prize in Taichung City Competition” 12 Sep 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed 02 Mar 2014. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=428195>

Taichung City Government. “The Project” 2013. Taichung City Cultural Center International Competition. Accessed 02 Mar 2014.  <http://www.tccenter.com.tw/html/result_e-4.html>