The Dadong Arts Center is located in Kaohsiung, the economic center of southern Taiwan. Before the opening of China to foreign markets, Taiwan was the leading economy of the region. Towns developed into a generic industrial city fabric without adequate public spaces. Currently, the strong brand of ‘Made in Taiwan’ is in the process of being restored to its former glory. The cities urgently need pleasant urban space to help regenerating inner-city districts. Therefore, the Dadong Arts Center is conceived in the first place as a new public domain, setting new high standards for the level of urban comfort.
The new arts center creates a strong link between the open and the densely-built city, connecting the Feng-Shan River, a popular park and the historic centre of the Feng-Shan City. The concept of Dadong Arts Center is similar to the traditional Taiwanese courtyard house, where the patio works as a social exchange for the different families living around it. Four concrete volumes line a public plaza that also penetrates the complex to separate the buildings from one another. Providing shelter, a membraneous skin above the plaza areas features 11 enormous funnels, reminiscent of illuminated hot-air balloons, tapered ends dipping to face the pavement.
The configuration of the complex stimulates the intense use of public space by activities such as dance, tai chi and various games which characterizes outdoor areas in Taiwanese cities. The skin protects visitors from the region’s periodically strong rains and intense sunshine, while creating a perfect outdoor situation for such activities. Openings in the narrow ends of the funnels allow for the drainage of rainwater and the circulation of fresh air. When the sun shines, these openings turn into enormous natural spotlights, enticing people to act. All day long, people of different social backgrounds, interests and ages -individually as well as in groups- are performing on the informal circular podia formed by benches and granite-lined basins.
The Dadong Arts Center is a multi-functional art space, aiming to be a state-of-the-art-venue for producing artistic and cultural events. It also plays an important role in cultivating and training artistic talents in classical as well as popular culture. A 800-seat theater and a small rehearsal hall are the center piece of the complex. The X-framed concrete elevations of the four individual buildings of the arts center are homogenous, yet each one indicates the programme inside by subtle changes in the degree of openness of the structure.