Kukan Architects

Kukan Architects

Nicosia, CY


Pandora's Cave - Public Library and Museum - Competition 2013' - Collaboration with Charilaos Kythreotis


1.1– Abstract

Changbin Township’s Baxian Caves is renowned for its unique landform and prehistoric site. With its exotic view of the unique abrasion cave and the oldest prehistoric site in Taiwan, Changbin Cultural Relic is ranked as a Class 1 Historic Monument. It is also the largest tourist attraction in the northernmost region of Taitung. The most caves are occupied and used as shrines.  

This image was our source of inspiration, for the creation of an ecosystem, a dynamic relationship among the environment, topography, structural intensities, and human activities.  The environment needs to be considered as one of integral materials that contribute to what we call the “built environment” in which structure, environment and the inhabitant interact perpetually. We use the reference of the Baxian Caves to translate the notion of reading (Public Library) and discovering (Fine Arts Exhibition Centre) within a natural and organic environment; as if reading under a tree in a park.

Our proposal deploys the evocative image of The Baxian Caves in a threefold manner:

•To focus on Green Architecture and Environmental Sustainability.

•To create a Multifunctional Centre acting as an integral organic part of Taichung's Urban Centre, and which acts as more park than building.

•To produce a proud new landmark that will attract people from around the island.

1.2 - Aims

We therefore took these aspects and integrated them into 5 main elements:

1.Our methodology behind this architecture looks at cellular deployment within the 3d digital realm and is instrumentalised within our design for future growth. This will allow for addition of modules in the future and reorganisation of space, in a similar manner to how biological cells are able to profilerate/multiply.

2.We aim to inspire our inhabitant physically and mentally within an organic and nature-type of landscape. The level of complexity seen within the structure aims to create a differentiated type of environment, allowing one to alter his/her thirst for ‘discovery’ every time he chooses to visit.

3.Increasing the build surface area for more indirect light to enter, as well the creation of voids that allow light to penetrate through its levels.

4.Our aim is to invite people to our proposal from the surrounding 360 degrees. We designed this rocky landscape that acts more as landscape than building. Once the inhabitant goes closer to the ‘building’ it turns transparent and one can see the range of activities happening within its core. At an even closer range, the building is able to grab the heart of the people and squeeze them in.

5.Proposed uses aim to strengthen the outdoors culture and entertainment within, working simultaneously as poles of attraction to the public for 24hours a day.


2.1 - The Landscape and its spatial qualities

Newly created spaces combine sculpture forms, gardens, playgrounds, recreational activities, cafes, and are all found within this network that combines humans with nature and nature with humans. Features and spaces of simple but unique complexity co-habit, creating a style of movement where one allows himself to wander and forget the stress of city life.

The design seeks to provide at the same time a megalith and monumental appearance for one of the key buildings of Taichung culture, as well as a continuous and gradient spatial experience of the beautiful picturesque landscape of the site. The Cave-like form and its particular space adheres to both aspirations. It is contained and open, confined and continuous, providing the qualities that satisfy both aims and provide a unique and stunning spatial and lighting experiences for the visitor and the employee alike; as if discovering a cave for the first time.

The building is organised in four distinct volumes or islands on the Ground Floor (from North to South) that together interconnect vertically to form a very large rocky landscape. This strategic division of zones is used for human traffic control.  The island closest to the North being the Public Library for visitors (Island_01), one moves South to find Library Administration and Offices at allocated Island_02 , then the Fine Arts Centre (Island_03) ending with Administration and Offices for the Fine Arts Department (Island_04). The volumes shift, however, so as to organise the directions of approach and circulation that are anticipated by the competition brief, to and from the individual islands, as well as to frame key views across the site and the city.

The multi-faceted structure will engage with the public. Offering a diverse layered spatial experience, the centre will become the most attractive and recreational spot of the city. Integrating exterior multi-levelled parks that are differentiated throughout, the inhabitant can choose from a variety of hotspots for resting / reading a book at different designated spaces creating a democratic model for the visitor. This may depend on noise, light qualities and human traffic.

Vehicular access to the site is provided at the southern section of the eastern perimeter, with ramps into and out of the two basement levels, which is integrated into the modulated terrain. The angle to level_-1 is ideal for the buses (156 underground and 10 on ground level) and bicycles. Level_-2 can accommodate for 162 cars and 418 scooters.

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Status: Competition Entry