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Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Guangzhou Baiyun International Convention Center, Guangzhou, China

Striking convention venue for Guangzhou
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 the mountain park off 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 there where the historical dialog between the mountain and the city can be renewed within a contemporary society.

A number of questions were raised; 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?

The architects proposed not to build a solitary and closed “object.” Rather, they integrated the new congress functions in a general system of open visual and physical connections between the location of the future city centre and the mountain park. The aim was 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 a ”black box” 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 “globalisation era”.

The future 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 proposed was based on open, modular and flexible spaces connected by secured and efficient circulation systems merged in a unique combination of nature and town.

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.
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