Bayiun International Convention Centre
“Weaving nature and town”
Located inn the northern suburb of Guangzhou, the Baiyun Mountain was given the name “White-cloud” in Chinese because its main summit is often covered with clouds. Not only the natural landscape, but also the historical places on the mountain have made it the main attraction in Guangzhou throughout history.
The administration of the booming city of Guangzhou decided to develop a new administrative centre to the north of the downtown area, on the site of the old airport, at the edge of the historical landscape of the Baiyun Mountains. The new congress centre must function as the motor of this new urban process.
The Baiyun highway cuts off the mountain park from the new urban development. The old villages and the new buildings coexist in a chaotic urban conglomerate. Despite the current fragmentation of the site, it does have enormous qualities and potentials. The plot is located where the historical dialog between the mountain and the city can be renewed within contemporary society.
...... How to make a ‘building’ that is able to act as a mediator in resolving the existing contradictions within a creative unity? How to improve a democratic and open concept that weaves nature and town, the citizens and the institutions, into a new specific identity?
We proposed not to build a solitary and closed “object.” Rather, we wanted to integrate the new congress functions into a general system of open visual and physical connections between the location of the future city centre and the mountain park. Our desire is not to build a new barrier, but to accompany the gentle movement of the mountain into the city. Existing “classical” congress centres are usually more or less designed as”black boxes” or as big “meeting machines” without a soul. Most of these could be placed anywhere, as they are indifferent to their local context. Such concepts, however, become more and more obsolete as they are too static and cannot successfully respond to the future challenges of the “glocalisation era”.
The congress centre should be an “interactive” multipurpose infrastructure able to adapt its offer according to the various demands both of international and local markets. From a broad sustainability point of view, a congress centre should be anchored in its local context and emphasize its specific identity. At the same time, it should project a clear image of welcome and efficiency that is legible for visitors of all cultures. This is where global and local should melt into a new unity. Moreover, the combination of efficiency with an interesting and attractive local cultural environment should meet the demands of a meeting place with an original character based on a lasting human scale. For this reason, the concept we propose is based on open, modular and flexible spaces connected by secured and efficient circulation systems merged in a unique combination of nature and town. We propose a congress centre as a living and unforgettable “place of experience”.
The main principle of the project is the merging of landscape and building. The ‘fingers of nature’ are penetrating the building site. This relationship between the lower town area and the upper mountain area has a double aspect.
The new building is a fragmented volume able to maintain openness, and in doing so accentuate the presence of the mountain in the city. For these reasons we have developed the program as horizontally as possible, with separate east-west oriented volumes. Four eco-bridges cross the Baiyun Road (highway) and heal the physical fracture between the mountain and the plain.
Our design places the new buildings at the far east side of the site, next to the highway, so as to achieve visibility along the main entrance road to the city while, at the same time, allowing the creation of a large public space along the East Jichang road.
The starting point was a standard construction grid, to guarantee economical and technical feasibility. Next, some simple transformations are introduced, integrating indoor and outdoor spaces within the same movement. The result is an overall unity in a flowing form, creating a dynamic image in which “nothing stays immobile”. In keeping with this flowing character, various materials are used to create a new unified “landscape”.
The basement’s roofs, the courtyards and the “green fingers” are gardens, continuing the mountain nature.
The five volumes are emerging “hills”.
The south and west facades are cladded with local historical stone of feldspathic quartz sandstone with small window strips, improving the climatic performance of the building in the subtropical Chinese climate. The northern facades are very transparent, keeping the indoor and outdoor spaces in close contact.
The functional organisation of the building:
The functional surfaces are logically grouped through a combination of horizontal and vertical functional modules. The horizontal modules are grouped in a two-story base. They house the general services: the entrance halls, the main foyers, the general catering services (kitchens and restaurants), the multifunctional exhibition and banquet halls, a VIP-area, the offices for management and supervision, the media-centre and the main circulatory connections.
The vertical modules consist of five blocks housing specialized activities. Each of these can function independently or be linked to the others (through the horizontal base).
The congress centre is housed within the three central blocks. The northern block includes an exclusive meeting hall and an auditorium that seats 2500 people. The central block houses the midsized halls, and the southern block the halls for 1000 and for 500 people.
The hotels are located in the end-buildings, with 500 rooms in the northern building and 600 rooms in the southern block. They are linked to the congress centre at ground level and at roof level. They house restaurants and bars, dance halls, clubs, business centres, fitness centres ...