Architects: Atelier 11
Location: Ji County, Tianjin, China
Design Director: Xu Lei
Design Team: Gong Meng, Jin Ding
Construction Drawing: Xu Lei, Zhang Pingping, Gong Meng, Zhu Yin, Qiang Wei, Li Baoming
Project area: 37,000 sqm
Project year: 2009 – 2011
Photographs: Courtesy of Atelier 11
As for a building located in a valley close to one of the top national scenery parks, the Panshan Mountain Park in the city of Tianjin, the concept behind the design of Pan Long Gu Valley Conference and Exhibition Centre takes inspiration from the beautiful natural surroundings it sits in and the classic aesthetics in traditional Chinese landscape paintings.
Following the maximum 40 metres difference from the highest to the lowest spot on the site, an “artificial landscape” is created with a group of architectural forms placed along the hilly land. The forms are designed in a geometrical style to present a simplistic and pure impression for the artificial landscape. Inspired by the essential techniques and expression of layers and spatiality in the traditional Chinese painting, the arrangement of these geometrical forms are planned as if they were overlapping mountains, scattered rocks, flowing water, and sunken gullies as an echo to the natural landscape around. The building masses are integrated into the surrounding terrain by inserting, connecting and spreading based on topographical conditions. The purity, fragility and lightness are created by these masses reverberating with the environment. Therefore the inner link between the artificial and natural landscapes is built up seamlessly; and an understated but rather authentic Chinese spirit is given to the overall project without any cliché Chinese symbol.
The Centre is conceived as a multi-functional complex with spaces for conference, exhibition, and performance. The emphasis of space planning in the design is put on the flexibility of the space use. On one hand, all the big halls included in the complex are assigned to different functions respectively. But on the other hand, they could be transformed into additional space for one another in the case of extra space required for any certain event.
In terms of materials used in the project, the reference to its natural surrounding again plays a very important role. Around the site where the Centre is located, a kind of white limestone is a common material found throughout the valley. Referring to its color and rather soft and loose texture, the design of the Centre adopts a skin system with the use of white aluminum perforated plates as the main material for the exteriors. With the bright whiteness and delicate holes on those plates, the architecture is given a light, semi-transparent, and pure aesthetic which takes away some overwhelming weight that could be exerted on a project with such a scale; and the architecture is able to maintain a same sophisticated quality as its natural environment. Grey stones with different textures are mainly used for the ground and white metal plates are also adopted for the roof of the Centre. With such a minimal and distinctive color scheme, the Centre displays a complete and solid form which makes it a refreshing addition to its surroundings.