Description from the architects. Republic of Equatorial Guinea is located in the west coast of Middle Africa, including several small offshore islands and an insular region containing Annobon and Bioko islands. Malabo is the capital and the second largest city of Equatorial Guinea, located on the northern coast of Bioko Island. The SIPOPO Congress Center building site is situated by the ocean and surrounded by the woods, next to the recently built Meeting Hall.
The rectangular two-storey block is nested in a semi-transparent metal envelop as a shield protecting from strong lights and create an implication of security, protecting the interiors from sharp sun beams yet benefiting the daylight at optimum.
The lacy texture of the mesh behaves like sun-break and grants a shady interior without hindering the accent of transparency. The building with its elegant veil visually merges to the ocean and the surrounding greenery in serenity, reflecting the beauty of the surroundings.
Encircled and harmonized with the green woods and the blue ocean, mirroring the nature on the building’s uninterrupted sheer glass walls, the gray-bronze mesh follows the color of the tree trunks and the existing Conference Hall materialized in solid travertine.
Through the placement of metal panels in variations at different levels and angles, the façade is perceived as an assortment of playful geometries glittering with day light, echoing not only the colors and tones but also the motions of the winds and waves.
The panels is to change in every direction with the orientation of the building and depending on its relation with the exterior and the course of sunlight; the semi-transparent perimeter “shield” of designed bronze mesh application that flows around the building, protects the inner glass walls to reduce the heat in order to improve building’s energy efficiency.
The glass wall systems allow for the maximum viewing area with no horizontal or vertical mullions to obstruct the vision towards the ocean. Especially the restaurant, directly facing the ocean, benefits the maximum view.
The refraction on the glass together with the glittering reflection of the moves of the mesh joins the mirror image of the surrounding nature. The three-dimensional effect of the mesh curtain gives the feeling of floating expression by the vast sea and the breeze gliding through the leaves.
The iconic building gains gestures of its own and presents the moves and processes of nature in its appearance using the language of contemporary architecture.
Incise patterns permit controlled daylight to diffuse into the building interior and at night, when lobbies and the restaurant are lighted, the oozing beams through the slits communicate with the spirits of the forest and ocean.
Entering the main lobby, which is double space atrium, the interiors grant a feeling of spaciousness, and create a wide circulation zone. The main conference hall is a rectangular space at the first floor, with a circular seating design. The hall is situated amid the structure and accessed through the connecting lobbies at three sides; as the balances of light and shadow, transparency of a communal space and confidentiality of affairs of state is carefully practiced in the physical existence of the project. Situated as a back row of the mail hall, VIP launches are designed at the ground floor. The restaurant, overlooking the bay, is also located at the first floor flanked by the foyer at two intersecting sides.
An understanding of contemporary architecture is proposed for the building which is supported by all means of technological infrastructure. Starting with the design of special walls, the acoustic concerns are supported by architecture, as well as the quality of technical equipment.
Natural materials like timber, natural stone and glass is preferred all through the construction. From carpets to natural stone flooring, each item is the choices of elaborate design. The three dimensional walls of each space is uniquely designed with reference to local sources, such as the bark of pine trees mimicked in timber and mirror at the restaurant, or the geometric motives of African tradition on the walls of the lobby. All lighting elements like chandeliers are tailor made; some representing precipitations in crystal driblets, colorful waves or a lively stream. Not only physically but also symbolically, the building is a sign of its land.
High technology and high security systems are applied in the building. All technical rooms, storage, service and maintaining facilities are solved at the basement (+0.00 level) floor.
The transparent connection bridge links the new building to the existing Hall repeating the same design manners in the texture of the natural environment. At the start of the corridor, the building as a source of pride for Africa, the Africa map made up of lights welcomes the leaders at the entrance and enriches the communicative nature of the Congress Center.
Aimed to develop as a diplomatic resort, the new Center will be the core of the presidential zone and host the exclusive meetings in harmony with the adjacent grove and the seaside. Align with its function as a meeting place for the presidents, the building is strong and symbolizes to be modern; it is simple but functional and finds its expression in elegance. The Center is in harmony with the environment and makes optimum use of natural resources such as daylight, the greenery, the ocean and the view.
The building is in accord with its “place” in terms of natural resources and cultural heritage, it is not an imported glass box model but a genuine African trace of our era.
Open to negotiations of African cultures, African leaders shall meet up at the Sipopo Congress Center which is a strong element of high representation. Like the powerful ancient silk cotton tree –Ceiba- of the Equatorial Guine flag, the Sipopo Congress Center will gather the delegates of nations under its roof for ‘Unity Peace and Justice’.
MORE CREDITS – Architect: Tabanlıoğlu Architects. Melkan Gürsel & Murat Tabanlıoğlu. Client: Oficina Nacional de Planificación Y Seguimiento de Proyectos de Guinea Ecuatorial “GE- Proyectos”. Photographs: Emre Dörter. General Contractor: ONUR-SUMMA J.V. Architectural Project Team: Salih Yılgörür, Ali Çalışkan, Sertaç Tümer, Utkan Yonter, Emre Çetinel, Elvin Erkut, Tugce Güleç. Interior Design: Tabanlıoğlu Architects. Hacer Akgun Marino, Eda Lerzan Tuçbil, Esra Çanakkale, Gonca Yılmaz, Anday Bodur. Landscape Consultant: Tabanlıoğlu Architects. Structural Engineer: Emir Engineering. Mechanical Engineer: DT Engineering. Electrical Engineer: DT Engineering. Fire Consultant: Prof. Dr. Abdurrahman Kılıç. Acoustic Consultant: STD, Sorgun Akkor. Architectural Lighting Consulting: ZKLD Studio. Sound & Media Screen Systems Consultancy: Ateksis. Glass & Alum. Facade: Arte. Metal Mesh Cladding: Arte. Steel Works: Modül Çelik / UMD. Wood Works&Furniture: Nurus.