In Taiwan they change the year with the inauguration of an incredible building with a Madrid footprint, an immense architectural challenge whose prize is life.
In the end, what does it mean to have lived? Well, in a philosophical sense it can mean many things. Things that, honestly, I don’t see myself able to break down correctly, so I’ll go to the basics, to what is certain: to have lived is to leave a mark. Imprint in the people who knew you, in the places you traveled, in the ideas of your travel companions, in the interpretations of what you executed. In this sense, Manuel Monteserín has broken the mold.
We have already commented, on occasion, that architecture competitions bring out the best in professionals. They also equalize the point of arrival, that is, regardless of the economic or professional position from which they start, their tools are only worthwhile if they get first place (or second, which always gives «cache»). Monteserín won an international contest in 2011 on the other side of the globe from the city where he lives, in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.
This resort created in Taiwan is inspired by the sea
Ten years after winning the competition, in October 2021, the developer, the city of Kaohsiung, inaugurated the sprawling cultural complex. A project that covers 11 hectares at the mouth of the Love River (nice name, by the way), with a constructed area of 88,000 square meters and a budget of one hundred million euros… which is equivalent to €1,136.36/m², a bargain. , come on.
Kaohsiung is the second most important city in Taiwan, which is why we are talking about one of the most important economic hubs in Asia. If we add to this that the Love River runs through the city, becoming the main source of income for the place (and of headaches with a relative humidity between 60 and 80 percent), it was clear that the best aesthetic solution for the complex would be related to the sea.
Parks and promenades connect various buildings bursting with design
Thus, the design of the cultural building is based on the geometries of the seabed. Foams, corals, algae, waves and aquatic animals, indicate us from the architecture studio. They move to the surface giving life to certain uses, specifically, five uses that are divided into spaces with their own names: The Great Wave, Whales, Dolphins, El Coral and outdoor areas (parks and walkways that connect everything).
The Great Wave, obviously, is the most illustrative iconic reference of the set. It is an auditorium for 12,000 people (in the open air), a concert hall for 3,500 people and two towers with offices, a museum and rehearsal rooms. While the open-air auditorium is surrounded by plant areas (the project is full of green references), the covered one resembles the beginning of the great wave (the main tower), in a gesture that allows visual and architectural continuity.
The towers have changed the skyline of the city of Kaohsiung
The main tower, 113 meters high, faces the interior of the island, covered by a façade with a hexagonal pattern. Design that is dispersed throughout the complex, allowing aesthetic continuity and a spectacular artistic vision from the air. Another tower, 83 meters high, turns its back on the first, although it is linked to it by an airlift. Of course, these towers have changed the city’s skyline, forming a new landmark.
As a curiosity, in the original design the two towers were separated, but their location was changed back to back. Seville-based company Eddea joined the team to contribute their expertise and «review the complete concept to ensure the technical and constructive feasibility of the entire complex.» On their website they attribute the idea of merging the two towers with the airlift, and there is nothing like teamwork.
There are buildings with green roofs that look out to the sea.
The geometry of the towers must have been a headache for the builders, but it implies a challenge that is difficult to underestimate. The execution of these powerful and unique hexagonal figures, of the outer slats with a thousand different measurements (thousand is a saying), make the perception of height and volume to be lost, «deceives» the viewer, allowing a freer and more staff.
The second part of the complex is called Whales. These are buildings with a garden roof that overlooks the sea. They were the first buildings to be finished, in 2017, with a large car park under them. They are called Live Houses, there are six of them with three different sizes and they have a shape reminiscent of…whales? (well of course). Its green connection allows a walk in front of its facades, or anyone can climb on the back of a whale and contemplate its seafront (it’s a spectacular idea, and you know it).
This city in Taiwan is home to a relevant cultural complex
Of course, if there are whales, there must be Dolphins, smaller ones. Urban elements housing restaurants and running throughout the Kaohsiung Pop Music Center. There are five of them and they are raised on pillars leaving access free, the dolphins have solar panels on their roofs, and their shape faithfully represents the marine animal from which they take their name.
We arrive at the part of the complex called Coral, the Kaohsiung Exhibition Center. A large roof in the shape of an umbrella, but made up of hexagons of different sizes and heights, supported by fine structures that simulate being trees, is a true delight. Downstairs, the closed spaces allow a commercial and exhibition program, and the open ones give life to a rich variety of activities, from markets, to dances or street theater.
The green area has become one more lung of the city
The description of the complex ends with a framework formed by parks and promenades, urbanistically delimited by the adjacent buildings. These parks will allow the rapid growth of vegetation, becoming one more green lung for the city (which needs it due to its high pollution).
The exciting project, of course, is not just a work by Manolo Monteserín. Many more people embarked on it, from young and excited architects to companies with experience behind them. When I said at the beginning of the article that Monteserín had broken the mold, I was not talking about a building that will bear his name, I was referring to an event, the constructive one, that will allow thousands of interpretations and interactions, a musical complex that will undoubtedly cause people to talk. but, above all, it will give «moments» to its users.