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Luminous Moon-Gate (Taichung City Cultural Center)


Client Company Name : Barry Cheng Architect & Associates

Taichung, Taiwan


Luminous Moon-Gate was designed in 2013 for the Taichung City Cultural Center International Competition. The design intent behind the proposed project hints at multiple interpretative roles for Taichung: a portal into heightened consciousness, a lantern of knowledge, a catalyst for metropolitan living, a cultural lung for the body of the city, a gate toward a responsible future, a center regenerative of community life, a landmark for orientation.


The project replaces various military installations and the former Shuinan airport, as most of these functions have been discontinued. Located on the northern end of the new Taichung Gateway Park, the Library and the Museum act as both a singular Cultural Landmark and entrance to the greater Urban Park. Each building axis points to pivotal parts of the park and the city. The Library, the vertical oval, and the Museum, the horizontal oval, work in tandem to express a gateway, yet are distinct volumes with shared design language. One is counterpoint to the other and laid out programmatically the former vertically and the latter horizontally The buildings feature largely glass surfaces that draw passersby throughout the day and serve as a beacon of activity at night, following the idea that transparency of knowledge leads to collective achievements.


In traditional Chinese iconography, a Moon-Gate symbolizes a gateway "to the Garden of Paradise." The paradise of our Information Age aspires to be a future where knowledge and culture shape humankind. The combination of a Library and Museum is uniquely suited to provide the basis for this future, and the Moon-Gate-like 10-story form of the Library is a potent metaphor for this direction.


The Grand Stair is an allegory of the power of knowledge, accessible to all citizens of a free society. Majestic in scale, it marks the entry point to the Great Forum of the Library, drawing the public to ascend and reach the long view on all human matters. This transparent landmark extends the compositional axis of the Taichung Gateway Park. The rich imagery of the architecture of the Enlightenment shapes the dominant forms of this scheme. Claude-Nicolas Ledoux's design is the direct reference for the Grand Stair. This marker is a two-way signal: cascading knowledge and culture from the complex to the public realm, and channeling the urban dwellers from the street to its institutional void.


The vertical culmination of the Library is the Great Reading Room, the architectural center where knowledge gets internalized. In the vastness of its vault, patrons and visitors gather to learn, to experience, to open to the city below. Education, personal growth, citizenship, and the fostering of the arts will regain center stage in the life of Taichung. The Great Reading Room affords expansive view of the City and Taichung Gateway Park. From the street level it is a destination, the place to be; from up there it is the vantage point to discover.


First principles in environmental design led to the proposed project form. It is our position that architecture is inherently sustainable when the design intent springs from a genuine commitment to the betterment of society. Porosity is a core driver for this design. From the high porosity of the overall layout allowing for maximum wind penetration in and around the massing to the low porosity of building materials for controlled collection of water and heat, this notion informs all design moves. The curvaceous forms of the library and the museum enhance passive ventilation and stack effect through suction from the wind blowing across the top of the stack. Movable daylight louvers and micro shutters on a 1-meter cavity wall for all the building envelopes delivered controlled diffused daylight adjustable to varying needs of seasonal changes. Super-windows constitute all the glazing surfaces for maximum insulation value. We envision these structures as breathing machines, where natural elements have a controlled and beneficial access to the well-being of their occupants. To take full advantage of the large extent of surface exposed to the sun, high efficiency photovoltaic panels populate the top of the volumes to harness maximum energy.

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Marx, John

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