Sneak Peek: the Taipei Performing Arts Center

A much-awaited cultural venue by the pioneering architecture firm OMA is making its debut this summer.

The just-finished Taipei Performing Arts Center. (© OMA by Chris Stowers)

Taiwan may not be welcoming overseas visitors right now, but when its borders reopen, architecture enthusiasts spending time in the capital can add a striking new landmark to their itinerary: the Taipei Performing Arts Center. Slated to open on August 7 after a decade under construction, this just-completed attraction is just a stone’s throw from Shilin Night Market (and right across the street from the elevated Jiantan station on the Taipei Metro). Designed by star architects Rem Koolhaas and David Gianotten of OMA, the futuristic building has been lifted off the ground on piers to create a landscaped plaza.

Upstairs, a trio of performance venues protrude from a central cube that accommodates the stages, back stages, and support spaces. Most eye-catching of all is the spherical 800-seat Globe Playhouse, which resembles a planet docking against the main structure. The slightly asymmetrical Grand Theater accommodates audiences of up to 1,500, and facing it on the same level is the 800-seat Blue Box for more experimental performances. The two can be combined to become the Super Theater — a massive space able to accommodate productions that are otherwise only possible in found spaces like post-industrial settings.

Members of the public who haven’t bought tickets for shows are free to access the Public Loop, a brightly lit walkway that runs through the theater’s infrastructure and hidden production spaces. Portal windows along the route offer glimpses of backstage areas, like the technical grid of the Blue Box, theater offices, and the upper level of the Globe Playhouse. At the top of the circuit is a viewing deck where visitors can take in views of the surrounding neighborhood through corrugated glass walls.

Inside the 1,500-seat Grand Theater. (© Shephotoerd Co. Photography, courtesy of OMA)

The ground-floor entrance to the Public Loop. (© OMA by Chris Stowers)

Left to right: An escalator in the Public Loop; the main structure is clad in corrugated glass. (© Shephotoerd Co. Photography, courtesy of OMA)

The spherical Globe Playhouse can seat 800 people. (© OMA by Chris Stowers)

The Public Loop leads to an open-air viewing deck on the rooftop. (© Shephotoerd Co. Photography, courtesy of OMA)

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