area 124 | new geometries

architect: Coop Himmelb(l)au

location: Dalian, China

year: 2012

The task for the design of the Dalian International Conference Center is to create an instantly recognizable landmark of the above mentioned urban development in Dalian. Situated at the terminal point of the future extension of the main city axis, the center will be anchored as its focal point in the mental landscape of the international community.
The footprint of the building on the site is therefore arranged in accordance with the orientation of the two major urban axis which merge in front of the building. The close surroundings are further differentiated with the conference spaces that penetrate the facades, cantilevering and thereby creating a spatially multifaceted building volume.
The various theaters and conference spaces are covered by a cone-shaped roof screen, whose controlled daylight input assures good spatial orientation for the visitors and atmospheric variety.
The building has both to reflect the promising modern future of Dalian and its tradition as an important port, trade, industry and tourism city.
The formal language of our project is not pictographic, but associative; it will combine and merge the rational structure and organization of its modern conference center typology with the floating spaces of traditional Asian architecture as well as with a design reminescent of the soft surfaces generated by the forces of the sea. The project combines the following functions within one hybrid building with synergetic effects of functionality and spatial richness.

• Conference Center
• Theater and Opera House
• Exhibition Center
• Parking, Delivery and Disposal

A public zone at ground level allows for differentiating accessibility for the different groups of users, with the shopping and exhibition facilities directly connected to the conference center providing dramatic sight axis within the building. The actual performance and conference spaces are situated at +15 m above the entrance hall. The grand theater, with a capacity of 1.600 seats and a stage tower, directly opposite of a flexible conference hall for 2.500 seats, is positioned at the core in the center of the building.
With this arrangement the main stage can be used for the classical theater auditorium as well as for the flexible multipurpose hall. The main auditorium is additionally equipped with backstage areas like in traditional theaters and opera houses. This scheme is appropriate to broaden the range of options for the use of this space: from convention, musical, theater even up to classical opera, with very little additional investment. The main auditorium has the option to get equipped with a flexible floor providing all possible utilization from banquet to parliamentary seating.
The smaller conference spaces are arranged like pearls around this core, providing very short connections between the different areas, thus saving time while changing between the different units. Most conference rooms and the circulation areas have direct daylight from above.
Through this open and fluid arrangement the theater and conference spaces on the main level establish a kind of urban structure with “squares” and “street spaces”, which facilitates on the one hand user orientation within the building by identifiable “addresses”, and on the other hand provides also the required informal meeting places, chill-out and catering zones in between the halls, with view on the outside – an ideal atmosphere for modern conference utilization.
The access to the basement parking garage, truck delivery and waste disposal is located at the southwest side of the site, thus freeing the front driveway to the entrances from transit traffic. The main entrance from the sea side corresponds to the future developments, including the connection to the future cruise terminal.