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Hard at WORK

New York architects to design assembly hall for 2014 Summit of the African Union

by Sian 26 October 2012

An international competition for an Assembly Hall in Libreville, Gabon has been won by New York-based WORK Architecture Company. Beating other entrants from the US as well as UK, Brazil and Japan-based firms, the practice has formed a dynamic, brightly-coloured complex which blends elements of Gabon’s vibrant ecology to convey an artistic expression of President Ali Bongo Ondimba’s vision of a Gabon Vert (Green Gabon).

L’Assemblee Radieuse takes a cylindrical form with a dramatically slanted roof on a hillside in Libreville. Water cascades from the rooftop through voids into a series of open courtyards below, reused in irrigation of lush foliage. There are three hollowed-out courtyards within the assembly hall form, each of which acts as a demonstration of Gabon’s diverse ecosystems.

The leafy courtyards are connected by a network of semi-enclosed pathways which enable users to socialise or engage in conversation out of the main convention rooms. Around the central space are a 1,000-seat flexible auditorium, a triple-height banquet hall and a number of smaller auditoria and meeting rooms.

Located on a slanted hillscape, the new building will be the location for the 2014 Summit of the African Union, an important moment for Gabon. WORK Architecture Company details: “L’Assemblee Radieuse will serve as an architectural landmark situated amidst the stunning hillsides of the capital city, reflecting Gabon’s emerging leadership in the region’s political and environmental affairs, while celebrating the country’s resources and its potential to lead Africa into a new era.”

Thierry Boussillon, Agence Nationale des Grands Travaux Director of Special Projects, commented: “The quality of submissions for the contest was world-class. We are very impressed with WORKac’s innovative design. It will play a key role in transforming the Conference Center of the Cité De La Democratie, and Libreville, into the leading regional center for events, as envisioned by President Ali Bongo Ondimba.”

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