Turning convention upside down

Monday 14 Jun 2010

Songdo's new multi-purpose convention venue features roof inspired by upturned boat hulls

A pivotal component in New Songdo City’s development as an international business hub, the Convensia Convention Center is prominently located at the southern end of Central Park, the main public green space in the 1,415-acre, master-planned community. The low-rise complex is conceptualised as a series of folded roof planes— a 'landscape' that extends the natural setting of the park into the city.

The large-scale folds are segments of arcs that contain the Convention Center’s main programmatic elements, including exhibition halls, pre-function areas, support space, and the loading zone. Support spaces are articulated as a series of freestanding blocks, above which the curved roofs floats, like a series of upturned boat hulls. The planar areas between these hull-shaped forms are folded upward to generate a series of large, gable-like openings that push the pre-function areas outward, engaging the street and providing large, light-filled gathering spaces for convention visitors.

The boat elements, which are shaped like large bow-trusses, form the primary structural system for the convention center and support a 144-metre-long, column-free span.

Viewed from the street, the alternating gable and boat forms recall the jagged profile of the surrounding Korean mountain ranges rising through the clouds, a visual metaphor accentuated during the foggy days that pervade Incheon during the year. A head-house area—a long, sweeping volume that contains meeting rooms, the ballroom, and administrative spaces—mediates the relationship between the convention center and Central Park, as well as the 70-storey mixed-use tower, a 30-storey hotel, and a retail mall also on the Convention Center block.

The project houses 645,000 sq ft (60,000 sq m) of exhibition space, 86,000 sq ft (8,000 sq m) of ballroom space, and 50,000 sq ft (4,600 sq m) of meeting and conference rooms. A program of sustainable design strategies, from low-e glazing and designated parking for electric vehicles to a gray-water system, ensures that the Convention Center conforms to New Songdo City’s environmental agenda.

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