Weiwuying National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts 高雄衛武營
I always sing my praises for the National Taichung Theatre in Taiwan, as I think it’s a stunning piece of architecture. Now I think it finally has a competitor, the National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts, or Weiwuying which loosely translate to “defending military barracks” in Chinese.
我一直都認為台中歌劇院是我到過的台灣最美建築。 直到見到高雄衛武營，我真的改觀了。 台中和高雄一直都在競爭成為台灣第二大城市為，台中曾經一度以多出309位市民而排第二，但這項紀錄很快又被高雄超越。 到2018年10月高雄衛武營開幕，這裡的藝術中心把高雄提升到另一個層次。雖然台中是我家，但以國際都會的規模來說，我覺得高雄應該是台灣第二大城市。
Taichung and Kaohsiung has always vied with one another to become Taiwan’s second biggest city. In 2017 Taichung briefly won by 309 people but was quickly over taken by Kaohsiung, something not too difficult to do. Although I live in Taiching and think this is a great city, I can’t but help admit that Kaohsiung is more cosmopolitan and busier than Taichung. It deserves to be named the second biggest city in Taiwan. The opening of the Weiwuying in October 2018 definitely elevates Kaohsiung to another level.
Built on a former army barracks, the arts center spreads over 10 hectares and is located by the Metropolitan Park. When I first saw it, I was absolutely amazed by its vast size, I couldn’t work out where the main entrance was, if there was one. It took me a while to walk to an entrance, up some stairs and along a walkway that I can only describe as walking into the unknown.
This, as I later found out is the Banyan Plaza and leads to the different sections of the arts center, “Inspired by the lush banyan trees in the park, architect Francine Houben created the design resembling tree trunks and shaded open spaces to allow aerial routes in the Banyan Plaza.” (source : official website). The unknown had now become the inside of spaceship, intriguing and mysterious.
衛武營位於高雄市內，佔地十公頃。場館內有四個表演館，包括歌劇院，音樂廳，戲劇院和表演廳。 荷蘭籍設計師以榕樹群為靈感， 流線型的外表彷似一隻太空船。 連接着四個演出場地是榕樹廣場，走進這裏有一個超現實的科幻感覺，有如置身外太空。
I walked further and futher into the Banyan Plaza, and faint light flowed in from many directions. There were these funny looking ring lights above me, and little square light reflections on the ground. The fact that there were only a few other people around made the whole place look even more outer space.
INSIDE THE SPACESHIP
Finally, I found the main entrance and a couple of escalators took me to the inside the the main lobby on the third floor. The first thing I noticed was a stylish S curve sofa, one that I wouldn’t mind having in my living room. It was very spacious inside, so spacious that they had few secluded resting areas with comfy sofas inside. There were quite a few people sleeping – and yes I mean asleep – there, not just sitting reading a book or playing on their mobile phone, but actually sleeping. Where else would you go for a quiet nap with free air conditioning ^_^
館內公眾空間非常寬敞，進入大堂內我馬上見到一張很美的S型沙發。放在家裏客廳應該蠻 好看， 可惜家裏太小容不下。 當天去參觀衛武營是臨時決定，沒有安排參加導覽團，所以不能進入各個表演場地參觀或欣賞演出，真可惜喔 ！我唯有到時光走廊看衛武營的歷史， 和設計與建築的資料，非常有趣。 原來建造整所衛武營用了兩萬噸鋼鐵， 這相等於三座巴黎艾菲爾鐵塔的重量！
There are four main venues at Weiwuying, the Opera House, the Playhouse, Recital Hall and Concert Hall. Since this was an impromptu visit I could only wander around the main lobby area. This was a pity, as I would have loved to see the inside of the venues.
Nevertheless, there was enough to do and see outside the venues. This is one of the three terraces, the west terrace, and has a glass floor that looks right down to the Banyan Plaza. I noticed people standing here when I was walking through. I didn’t stand on the glass floor as I don’t like heights, looking up to the blue sky was a lot better.
The west terrace is on one end of the Opera House, and you walk through a Time Gallery to get to the other end. One side of the gallery charts the history of the site, from when it was the barracks to how it developed into an arts center. On the side was a lot of information on the design and construction of Weiwuying. For example, I found out that the entire building used 20,000 tons of steel. If you can’t quite work out how heavy that means and have been or seen the Eiffle Tower in Paris, then 20,000 tons of steel is three Eiffle Towers.
A couple of cafes was at the other end of the Opera House. The one below is a more open and relaxed area, and there was another one which does afternoon tea, complete with pretty cups and saucers if I remember correctly. The whole of the interior design was very much in line with the outside. There were a lot of curves in the structure. From the enclosed altrium that let’s light into the building, to the curved staircase outside gallery, makes me wonder if I’m really inside a spaceship.
By now it was late afternoon, and not that I had planned it in any way, but it was the perfect time to go out to the outdoor theater. This faces south and I can imagine on a clear day it would be a fantastic place to watch the sunset. Even on this particular day, it was a bit smoggy, but you can still see the glorious view.
除了館內四個場地外，館外還有一座戶外劇場， 座位佔了館外大概超過一半的位置。 這裏面向南邊，是觀看夕陽很好的地點。 如果在夏天傍晚時分能夠在這裏手執紅酒， 一邊看夕陽，一邊欣賞演出， 的確是人生一大樂事。
This is a massive building and sometimes it’s quite diffiicult to appreciate the magnitude and power of it. There’s something enchanting about Weiwuying’s curved structure and futuristic design that seems to allure all its visitors. And I certainly was one of them, and hope it had the same effect on you as well.
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