Construction begins on Metropolitan Opera House in Taichung
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Construction of the Taichung Metropolitan Opera House -- a building Taichung Mayor Jason Hu has described as "a feat of engineering" -- began Monday in downtown Taichung City.
Addressing a groundbreaking ceremony to mark the start of construction, Hu said the simple ceremony represents the emergence of a new landmark in Taichung and a new page in the city's history.
Hu said the opera house is an artistic piece of innovation designed by Japanese architect Toyo Ito, a realization of Taichung's vision of overall development and an architectural piece that has already been an eye-opener in international architectural circles.
He added that when it is built, the opera house will be considered on a par with the Sydney Opera House, one of the architectural masterpieces of the southern hemisphere.
Chen Tien-wen, deputy speaker of the Taichung city council, along with a dozen of Taichung city councilors,took part in the groundbreaking ceremony.
The opera house carries a price tag of NT$3.5 billion (US$108.36 million) and will be built on a site measuring 57,685 square meters.
It will seat 2,009 in the main auditorium, 800 in a "playhouse" and 200 in a "black box," according to Ito's design.
The "black box, " an experimental stage, will form an intimate environment suitable for a small theater. The wide space around the theater will provide the theater with exceptional flexibility. For even greater versatility, the space can be connected to a rooftop terrace. The project will also include an art workshop, art market, operations department and a parking lot.
Describing his ideas about the design of the opera house, Ito said that "architecture has to follow the diversity of society and has to reflect that a simple square or cube cannot contain that diversity."
The fluid continuity of the structure reflects the idea that the theatrical arts are spatial arts that combine the body, art, music and performance, Ito has said, while providing optimum settings for traditional Eastern and Western types of performances, the design moves beyond the constraints of a traditional opera house.
The design is an open structure that engages its surroundings in all directions and creates opportunities for myriad encounters between high art and popular art, artists and visitors, stage and auditorium, interior and exterior.
Ito, who is known as "architecture's impossible dreamer who takes every project in a new direction," calls the space the Sound Cave.
The Sound Cave is both a horizontally and vertically continuous network. Even before entering one of the three theaters, the Sound Cave is perceived as a fascinating and flexible acoustic space, which, in three dimensions, connecting an arts plaza, workshops, foyers and restaurants.
Ito was presented with the prestigious RIBA Gold Medal in February 2006.