Open day at Kaohsiung Port Cruise Terminal

Thirteen years after its design won a global competition, the Kaohsiung Port Cruise Terminal finally opened last week…

Abstract-style photo of the curved metallic cladding of the Kaohsiung Port Cruise Terminal.
The unconventional terminal building. Photo: Zhen-Kang.

Today’s open day coincided with a visit from the 824-passenger Nautica—a good test of the building’s separation of controlled and public spaces. (It seemed to pass.)

The terminal was designed by Reiser + Umemoto in collaboration with Arup (Hong Kong), Fei and Cheng and Associates (Taipei), PC (New York), and Ysrael A Seinuk (NY). They describe it as:

A dynamic, three-dimensional urban strategy for Kaohsiung’s waterfront edge, taking the form of an iconic cruise terminal, elevated public boardwalk, and office tower.

This is accurate. It’s one of those buildings that looks as good in person as it did during the concept stage.

I took my camera, but it was extremely crowded—moreso than it looks in these wide-angle photos—so I left it in my bag. My phone repeatedly overheated and shut down in the hot weather, so I’m hoping for a chance to return and take more considered shots.

In the meantime, here are some phone pics of this new addition to my neighborhood, a 10-minute walk from my apartment:

A snaking queue inside the terminal building.
I started by queueing with the other 2.77 million residents of Kaohsiung. The terminal was only open to the public for four hours on a Thursday afternoon, but that didn’t seem to lower turnout. Note the scrolling signs on the back wall. Amongst other things, they said “Gateway to Warmth with Celebration of Aspiration.” By the time I got to the sunny outdoor viewing deck, I too celebrated having space to breathe.
Six elderly women sit in front of a large window. They are all wearing face masks. Outside the window are the curved exterior walls, one covered in circular patches of grass, and the funnel of the Nautica cruise ship.
This window gave a glimpse of round patches of grass on the sides of the building, and the Nautica docked alongside.
People queueing in the fire escape staircase.
The lifts were reserved for those with limited mobility, so most people were ushered up the fire escape.
People lingering on the third-floor landing.
The stairs led to this landing on the third floor. I stopped to have a look at the small exhibition.
A printed photo showing the metal framework of the Kaohsiung Port Cruise Terminal.
There were photos of the building during construction…
Printed aerial photo of the seaward side of the Kaohsiung Port Cruise Terminal. The building looks completed, although there is still a mobile crane visible in the foreground.
…And this recent photo showing its near-finished state. I swear I’ve seen an air purifier that looks identical to the tower section. Incidentally, my apartment building is clearly visible in this shot. (I’ll give you 10 guesses…)
A 3D model of the Kaohsiung Port Cruise Terminal, with illuminated windows. The model is approximately 1 meter high, with people standing around taking photos of it.
I liked this detailed model of the building. The tower section is 14 stories tall, in addition to three basement levels. In the foreground you can see Cruise Terminal Station (in white)—one of three tram stations near my apartment. The model accurately depicts tram tracks embedded in the grass, however, in real-life fallen trees aren’t blocking the line. (Then again, I’m yet to experience typhoon season…)
A mirrored ceiling projects out over the entranceway. Crowds of people are walking on the viewing deck behind, with the Nautica cruise ship docked alongside. The viewing deck is roughly level with the bridge of the cruise ship.
Stepping outside, this sheltered area led to the viewing deck.
View of the viewing deck entrance, showing a reflective glass ceiling projecting out over the deck. It’s a sunny day. Dozens of people are in the foreground.
Here’s a sunnier take on the same space.
Abstract view of the metallic walls of the building.
Looking up, I enjoyed this more abstract view.
Looking along the viewing deck, the main part of the building is on the right and a garden of palm trees is visible one level lower.
Too my left I could see palm trees below the deck.
A raised white mound with palm trees planted on the top, and the sides featuring circular patches of grass, with the curvaceous metallic walls of the Kaohsiung Port Cruise Terminal behind.
Other parts of the building featured less conventional gardens…
Two large cantilevered rooms project out and upwards over the viewing deck.
…And dramatic cantilevered sections. Note people sheltering from the sun, at left. (It was at about this point that my phone started overheating, too.)
Closer view of a cantilevered balcony with a curved metallic and glass wall beside it.
The building is interesting and dramatic up close.
An expansive viewing deck paved in concrete with narrow curved hedge and grass sections. There are hundreds of people on the deck. A mountain and some tall buildings can be seen in the distance.
This is the widest part of the viewing deck. In the distance you can see Monkey Mountain, which I climbed four days ago. To the right is the Kaohsiung Music Center.
The Nautica cruise ship docked alongside the Kaohsiung Port Cruise Terminal.
Here’s the Nautica docked alongside the terminal. Passengers enter via airbridges connected to the lower levels.
Abstract view of the curved metal and glass tower section of Kaohsiung Port Cruise Terminal.
This is the office tower.
The tower section of the Kaohsiung Port Cruise Terminal.
If you look closely, you can see a tiny open window about half-way up, towards the right-hand side.
The 85 Sky Tower skyscraper.
The south-east end affords a great view of 85 Sky Tower. Another ridiculous and exciting building.
A glass door with an exit sign above, and a second sign on the door that says "not an exit".
We were called inside to allow the next group onto the deck. On the way out, I was amused by this door labeled “EXIT” and “NOT AN EXIT”.
A queue of people standing outside the building.
I saw the queue had become much longer. It might’ve been a few hundred meters long at this point.
Exterior view of the Kaohsiung Port Cruise Terminal, with hundreds of people waiting at Cruise Terminal station in the foreground.
Looking back, it had been an excellent visit to an excellent building. Note the crowds of people waiting for the tram; I was pleased to walk home from here.