Monday, October 30, 2006

Taichung to get World Class Opera House

Do fiscal crises drive extravagant spending, or do they just highlight it? Earlier this year the Taichung county government, flat broke, petitioned the central government for permission to increase dredging in local rivers so it could sell the gravel for a few dollars. Here in the small Taichung county town where I live the speed cameras are all broken because there is no money to fix them. And yet the government has decided that what central Taiwan really needs is a world class opera house. Sucking down large sums of central government quatloos...

Premier Su Tseng-chang agreed Saturday to offer an additional NT$500 million in construction grant for the Taichung municipal government to build a world-class opera house in the central city.The planned Taichung opera house originally called for an outlay of NT$2.4 billion and the Cabinet-level Council for Cultural Affairs had agreed to contribute half of the needed budget.

As the winning design for the new opera house, created by a Japanese architect, requires special technology and materials, city officials said the construction cost will spike by more than NT$1.1 billion. The city government has expressed its hope that the Executive Yuan offers more grant for the project.

During a community outreach of Taichung Saturday, Su acceded to an increase of NT$500 million in the central government's grant for the ambitious construction project after Taichung Mayor Jason Hu made three assurances -- the city government will be able to complete the project smoothly, the city council fully supports the project and there will be no more cost overruns.

Wow! It would be truly amazing to see an infrastructure project here in Taiwan with no cost overruns and smooth completion (can anyone say "High Speed Rail?"). Apparently since we lost the Guggenheim when the city council balked, we are going to get an opera house by way of compensation -- note that Taichung Mayor Jason Hu (KMT) had to provide assurances that the city council would not reject this project.

For a look at the winning design, go here. It looks like someplace where Captain Kirk was enslaved on an alien planet. I'm sure it will fit right into the tile-n-concrete world of Taichung.

[Taiwan] [Taichung]


Anonymous said...

Jeezus peazus, it certainly does like like Captain Kirk was enslaved on an alien planet!

Yes, if only the infrastructure was a priority, like it is so wonderfully and, in such stark contrast in Hong Kong!

Who listens to or attends opera here? No one.

Who uses the streets and the non-existent sidewalks here? Taiwanese, foreigners, aliens even, ghosts...and everybody!

Make it so people can walk in Taiwan! Inch by inch. Integrate public space with private space, like that do in Hong Kong! If they did that, Taiwan would be a better place than Hong Kong! I know it would take twenty-five years, but why not?

An opera house is not going to benefit anyone but the most self-indulgent and rich, with no place to put their brains.

So if you are going to spend you money on something with foreign flavour, why not foreign ideas about urban space! Or aliens ideas about urban space! Not on music which must seem alien to most Taiwanese (even contemporary ones). Music which at this point seems alien even to me.

Mark said...

It kinda looks like a gigantic piece of swiss cheese.

STOP Ma said...

"Captain Kirk" is right.

This design is something straight out of the 60's.

I've noticed that the Taiwanese -- design-wise -- are fascinated by this 20th century decade.

"World-class"? Maybe if you asked Austin Powers.

Karl said...

I clicked on the link to see the winning design, but evidently experienced some kind of weird acid flashback when I tried to view the image.

Just say no, kids.

Anonymous said...

Taichung Opera House look like a smelly piece of CHEESE to me! Taichung needs better positioned police stations and better equipments for the police as far as my concern!!

BTW, Taiwan High-Speed Rail is a must have item because that's the few things Taiwan can do to lower its oil reguirement from outside influence!


Anonymous said...

As for urban construction projects, I prefer the Kaohsiung/Takao approach, which they built something that ordinary people can actually use and enjoy. I do not think it's true that ordinary Taiwanese people are not capable of music appreciation or other forms of cultural events, but, again, presentation is the key. A multi-billion dollar opera house is simply not the appropriate way to deliver music to the people, not to mention a significant amount would instead be used in purposes such as kickback and bribery, a norm in all KMT-led projects.


Jason said...

This surely must be what Frank Gehry's turds look like.

keauxgeigh said...

I'm in favor of bold, out of the box architecture. So I don't have much constructive criticism on that design, except to say "yuck".

I like the third place design. Resistance is futile, you will listen to opera.

Anonymous said...

People can describe the project in any old terms but the bottom line is it will never get built and should a miracle happen there's no way it can be financially sustained past opening. It's yet another attempt at a local government going past its means, and in Taichung it's means at present at very financially challened.

The Foreigner said...

Wouldn't that big cube design have sparked a jihad or something? Didn't Apple Computers get into some kind of trouble for proposing a new store in Manhattan which resembled the Kabaa?

Michael Turton said...

Haha! Did you read that article that argued that the World Trade Center was the object of muslim ire because it was designed with a number of islamic features in it?


Anonymous said...

Anonymous said:
I do not think it's true that ordinary Taiwanese people are not capable of music appreciation or other forms of cultural events, but, again, presentation is the key.

I don't believe anyone was suggesting such a thing Anonymous. But opera is a bit of an outmoded and rarified form these days...why not start with a series of music schools.

You average Taiwanese kid (I know from experience, from teaching them), living in an average sized town doesn't take music lessons, isn't in a band, and has only heard of all of the musical via hearsay and from TV, etc. This doesn't have to be the case.

This all comes back, once again, to infrastructure. When I was in school, in North Vancouver, B.C., nearly every kid was in a school band at one time or another. That was one of my vehicles of great hope. I wanted to be a musician, and had great promise.

Invest of public schools, including all recreation programmes!