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Shitang Internet Conference Center, AZL Architects

Forward-Looking: Conference Centre by AZL Architects

The Shitang Internet Conference Centre is located near a rural community southwest of the Chinese city of Nanjing. It is accessed from the north and stands next to a small lake. Combined with the slender construction, the enormous dimensions of the building create a grotesque image amid the idyllic surroundings.

The conference centre, which measures around 3,200 m², is characterized by wood. Inspired by greenhouse typologies, AZL Architects have succeeded in developing a high-load structure with few transverse sections. The floor plan, which is nearly square, is covered by an eye-catching roof. Its surfaces rise and fall, following the horizontal course of a zigzag. At the front part of the building, the roof is borne by extremely slender columns, forming an impressive sheltered patio. An adjoining external pathway divides the building longitudinally into two tracts of different sizes and offers a look at the structure of the design. The vertical wooden slats on the façades are interrupted only by French doors surrounding the lower area of the building, as well as triangular glazing between the façades and roof.

The east tract of the conference centre, which faces the lake, comprises an enormous hall. This extends to the roof and can be used for various events such as conferences or community meetings. The other part of the building is home to work areas and technical installations. A second level enlarges the usable area; its lower ceiling height is more fitting to human proportions.

The interior design is a combination of wood and steel; the construction has been left uncovered so that visitors can practically watch the forces at play in the tension and pressure rods.

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