The new OMA-designed Taipei Performing Arts Center opened up last Sunday and so you’ll now find lots of articles, photos, and drone videos circulating around online. The two partners-in-charge, Rem Koolhaas and David Gianotten, were also on this Monocle on Design episode talking about the genesis of the project and how they worked to optimize the various theater spaces.
My favorite part of the whole story is how they actually won the design competition. The site is located next to Taipei’s renowned Shilin Night Market. And I can attest to this fame because I spent a summer living in Taipei while I was in university. This night market was the thing I was immediately told I needed to visit as soon as I stepped off the plane. And they weren’t wrong. I spent many a nights with those stinky tofu dishes that smell like feet but actually taste pretty good.
But for whatever reason, the competition brief stipulated that the night market was to be torn down in order to make way for this new performing arts center. And since it was in the brief, almost everyone took it as a non-negotiable given. The only firm that didn’t — out of 140 bidders — was OMA. They questioned why the city couldn’t have both: a new performing arts center and their wildly successful night market.
So that’s how OMA — at least partially — won the competition. And I’m certain that Taipei is better for it.