Port and Cruise Service Centre International Competition / PAOLO CUCCHI ARCHITECTS

A bionic shape, as a living organism rising from the ocean, rests on the coastline. The form, inspired by the natural topography along the river, interacts with the surrounding and appears as an incarnation of the nature itself, becoming a significant watermark, that announces the arrival to the charming Kaohsiung, visible and accessible from the city and the sea.

The marine creature lays calm, surrounded by splashes of water dropped all around on the ground and shimmering in the sun and in the dark. The overall effect embodies a good, harmonious dialogue between harbourfront and city. The continuous outline in self-compact cement of the building, its effect of smoothness and watery fluidity emphasize the dynamicity of the site. Some scales come off and the skin offers transparency, allowing view and light to pass through. The surroundings (parcel B and C) are conceived as green park, open and accessible day and night-time; an integrated events technology announces a flexible schedule of cultural, recreational events that will transform the zone from an arrival and departure point into an attractive, destination space.

The sustainable plan is the driving force in this regeneration vision: emphasizing the great natural potential of the scenic location, the infrastructural district of the terminal becomes an extraordinary, catalytic hub of work, culture and leisure. People, without difference of age, will come not only for a cruise tour but also for enjoying sitting in the park between art installations, doing tai-chi facing the sea at the sunset. The multifunctional centre draws people inside, attracting with its shops, cafes and panoramic restaurant. Nighttime a movie premier as a concert or water show engage public. Car circulation has been planned underground not only for maximizing the efficiency of the terminal, not interfering with pedestrian traffic, cyclists and strollers, but especially for not spoiling the vibrant scenario.

The curve geometry of one side of the structure extends and grows as lines of a whirlpool through the adjacent greenery, creating an unexpected network of social spaces, a recreational park where environment, water and activities gather people. The ‘sea’ moves into the land, establishing and strengthening a previous absent connection. Water (water-puddles, water fountains, water screens interacting with light, water shows) is the leitmotif in the new landscape. On the other side as a simple extension, a long limbless reptile snakes in the grass, leaning over the bank of the ocean. It’s a platform for video projections, open-air musical or theatrical performances.

The powerful context of the borderline with the fascinating, magical backdrop of the ocean has been used as scenographic, inspiring stage for sound and light art. Shaded outdoor areas niche the visitors; temporary art exhibitions, creative workshops, sporting events delight relaxing moments. Developing harbourside recreational, commercial and cultural activities the new symbolic gateway to this maritime city improves the attractiveness of the area, adds cultural value, integrating urban fabric with waterfront green arcade. As a consequence of the energy of the surroundings, the inside of the building features the same dynamism of the external shape: the fluid space allows light to flow the circulation and the flexible volume combines various activities. A large atrium, rising up until the second floor, serves as instant reference point and connects with the check-in area at the first floor. A series of running stairs, as a fluid grid of flow lines, interweaves floors and activities, favoring interaction and movement. All around the third floor runs a panoramic terrace; restaurant, convention hall, library, gym centre and other commercial spaces benefit from the breathtaking view. A café’ on the opposite site of the main hall, at one extremity of the terminal, opens the public interior space to the landscape space, as pleasant moment of transition and connection.

The exterior layer of the façade is composed of metallic panels that respond to the environmental condition. Due to the incorporation of the heating exchange systems that use seawater for heating and cooling the building, of solar panels for the production of water, and of large photovoltaic surfaces that produce energy from renewable resources, the project is in its totally a model of sustainable practice tuned to the preservation of the extraordinary quality of the landscape and natural biodiversity that distinguish the island of Taiwan. The challenge of this program is to create a sustainable low energy environment, an enjoyable place for passengers, visitors and staff. The new icon and its fluvial park, with its relax-leisure areas eliminate rigid boundaries, bridging and attracting as a magnet both the worlds, bringing the port to the city and the city to the port.

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