by Tafline Laylin – Images by Vincent Callebaut
Vincent Callebaut just unveiled a spiraling new cultural center for Taichung that combines bioclimatic architectural elements and complex geometry to create a landmark destination where art and literature are celebrated alongside nature. Like most of his designs, the eight story Swallows Nest involves an extraordinary feat of engineering. The steel structure is twisted into the shape of a three-dimensional Möbius’ ring that is lifted off the ground on three super strong pillars to reveal a verdant entrance area. Building-integrated photovoltaic panels generate energy, while low-E glass windows usher in natural light and provide thermal massing.
The Swallows Nest cultural center has a system of moats in the basement level between the floors and walls that stabilizes the building in case of earthquakes. Glass overhangs provide further protection against typhoons. Three vertical gardens climb up the pillars in the vegetated entrance area called the “Endless Patio.” These pillars are separated by slabs with glass-covered joints that allow visitors to see the cores from the ground floor to the roof, which is crowned with a solar array.
All of the interior galleries and reading rooms are oriented either towards the Endless Patio or the surrounding city, so there is a constant interaction between the indoors and outdoors. At the same time, the half opaque facade helps to protect the cultural relics housed inside. A host of other state-of-the art renewable communication and information technologies have been incorporated into this complex design, which aspires to be a zero carbon emission structure that will transform Taichung.