Thursday, January 29, 2009
Cardiff + Luxor + Guangzhou = Taipei
Rem is persistent. For the Cardiff Bay Opera House competition in 1994, he came up with this brilliant idea to challenge the typical auditorium-foyer binary of classical opera houses, and instead, to divide the performing arts building according to the separation of production and consumption of the spectacle.
Zaha Hadid won the competition but the building was never built. In a competition in 1996, Rem tried to sell the same idea (and almost the same form) to the Luxor Theater in Rotterdam. But they picked Bolles+Wilson. Then again, slightly altered form but essentially the same concept text was submitted to the 2002 Guangzhou Opera House competition in China. And again, Zaha got the job and she's now building it.
Another opportunity came - last year, the city of Taipei was looking for architects to build its new performing arts center that houses three independent theaters. OK, TRIPLE-CARDIFF! The competition result was recently announced - Rem finally nailed it!
I have mixed feelings about this scheme. I like the idea of production/consumption dichotomy since its conception. By joining the three stages and creating a "super factory," the building departs from the standard egg-with-three-yolks type and successfully eliminates the "back side." I understand each theater may want its own identity, but why can that only be achieved by three different shapes and materials? Suddenly two elements become four - it's just messy. The form becomes too obscure to convey the concept. The structure is equally messy - and banal. You see how nice the concept model is without all those columns? I think it would be better if the three auditoriums are just hanging, with a similar formal language, and each of them has a distinct interior ambiance, like the series of rooms in Casa da Musica...