Structure of “Bigness”: The Example of Taipei Performing Arts Center

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This study attempts to read the relationship between text, architecture and technology by instrumentalizing the concept of "bigness" which is one of the concepts of Rem Koolhaas in his book S, M, L, XL; through the Taipei Performing Arts Center(TPAC)[1], designed by OMA. “Bigness” is a concept related to both urban and architectural design, challenges the city. It is founded on the claim that a building with a megastructure is a city in itself. It is not only about the scale of structure that is used to realize this claim, but also the fact that a structure of this scale contains many potentials. The contemporary city which is the existence of layered and unpredictable collective productions in, it is the product of multiple actors. TPAC, which is designed by considering Shilin Night Market and its users, which is an important place of local culture, and including it in the design equation, is an important example of this situation. Although the original brief proposed taking away the Shilin Night Market in order to house the TPAC, OMA decided it should not be eliminated. Performing arts space has been designed in which all three theatres are plugged into a central cube that is hanged on a super-structure to minimise the footprint so that the whole building can be lifted up to create an open ground plane for future move-in of the night market. In the case of TPAC, the prominent intent was to merge the local grassroots culture of the Shilin Night Market with performing arts events that would take place in the new theatre that makes it possible to “experimentation in the internal workings of the theatre” as Koolhaas mentioned, and thus transcends the limits set in the 3000-year-old theatre tradition. This structure criticized the contemporary TPACs with iconic forms and repeating functionality which continues to be produced with historical references. Can this building be seen as a tool which has the characteristic of the theory of “bigness” in terms of reckoning with the city and autonomous design strategies? Put differently, can “bigness” reopen the debate on urban form, type and technology in the context of the contemporary city? This change of scale of consideration, from urban reflection to architecture, is tried to understand with the effect of existing conditions on structural decisions taken in the building will be discussed in the context of construction, materials and technological possibilities.


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