WORK Architecture Company (WORKac) has won an international competition to design new Assembly Hall in Libreville – the capital city of Gabon – for the 2014 Summit of the African Union. The New York City firm impressed the jury with their proposal L’Assemblée Radieuse, which offers a self-shading, circular structure that maximizes active and passive design while incorporating the vibrant ecology of the Gabonese Republic. The new landmark is scheduled to break ground in February 2013 and will be completed in June 2014. Continue reading for the architects’ description.
L’Assemblée Radieuse organizes a vast program of conference, assembly and dining facilities around three carved courtyards – each representing one of Gabon’s rich and diverse ecosystems. The circular form is topped with a dramatically sloped roof, which emerges from the lush, green hills of the surrounding diplomatic quarter: the newly reconceived Cité De La Démocratie. This angled roof becomes one of the building’s most prominent façades, allowing views up from the city, below to the courtyard-gardens, and towards the rooftop reflecting pool – taking the elliptical form of the auditorium below.
The new building, conceived around the preservation and reuse of structural elements from an earlier conference center on the site, will harness the best in active and passive sustainable design. Louvers made of African Limestone shade the entire building and wrap the structure, arcing to create a contoured vertical landscape for the courtyards. These courtyards allow for natural ventilation, cooling, and smoke exhaust. The sloped rooftop collects rainwater to become a waterfall before being recycled throughout the building; its light color reflects heat. The 1000-seat auditorium is designed to divide easily into two separate spaces, with each potential configuration retaining optimal sightlines and state-of-the-art acoustics. Additional key spaces arranged around the central auditorium include a triple-height banquet hall along with a number of smaller auditoria and meeting rooms.
Circulation within L’Assemblée Radieuse is organized by the garden courtyards, which are linked by a semi-enclosed, shaded “philosopher’s path.” This continuous promenade provides flexible and informal meeting spaces for walking, thinking and discussing the urgent matters of the day, while connecting the three gardens and providing striking views over the Cité De La Démocratie, the capital Libreville, as well as of the landscape and sea beyond. 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.” WORKac principals Amale Andraos and Dan Wood said: “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to work in Gabon as it emerges on the world stage. It is an honor to have been selected for such an important project.” Architects: WORKac, in collaboration with Epstein Competition Organizer: Gabonese Agence Nationale des Grands Travaux (National Agency of Major Works) Location: Libreville, Gabon Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing Engineering, Acoustical Engineering, Sustainable Design and Theatre Consulting: Arup Structural Engineering: Robert Silman Associates Façade consulting: FRONT Lighting: Tillotson Design Associates Fountain Design: CMS