Thom Mayne’s firm, Morphosis, designed a conference centre that features an undulating podium covered with titanium panel roofs that evoke sunlight playing with water. Yangtze River International Conference Center, a 36,000-square-metre complex, represents a flagship project for the district. It is located at a key intersection between China’s eastern coastal city region and the Yangtze River Delta region.

Titanium clad convention center alongside the Yangtze river completed by Morphosis  - Sheet1
©Morphosis Architects/Tian Fangfang

As the central hub of global communications, the Yangtze River International Conference Center is also a key part of Nanjing’s expansion westward across the Yangtze River to Jiangbei. The Yangtze River International Conference Center exemplifies a commitment to sustainable development while creating a premier meeting and event venue for the region.

Titanium clad convention center alongside the Yangtze river completed by Morphosis  - Sheet2
©Morphosis Architects/Tian Fangfang
Titanium clad convention center alongside the Yangtze river completed by Morphosis  - Sheet3
©Morphosis Architects/Tian Fangfang

“The Yangtze International Conference Center is our second project to open in China this year, following Hanking Center in Shenzhen, but each responds to the spirit of its city,” said Morphosis Partner Eui-Sung Yi. “We designed the Yangtze Conference Center with this significance in mind, as the transitioning icon for the westward expansion of Nanjing across the Yangtze River. As Nanjing continues to grow into a hub of international business for China, the convention centre will become an important national anchor to host local and international events.”

Built on the banks of the Yangtze River, near Jiangbei District and the historic Nanjing Metropolitan area, the building is ideally situated in a unique geographic and cultural junction of Nanjing. Its mass, orientation, and design coexist with the riverside site and anticipate the future collective urban landscape of the new office buildings in Jiangbei.

Titanium clad convention center alongside the Yangtze river completed by Morphosis  - Sheet4
©Morphosis Architects/Tian Fangfang

Conceptually, the building draws inspiration from its namesake, the Yangtze River, which makes up one of the most important arterial connections in China and has helped shape human development in the area throughout history. Like the river, the Conference Center supports the region’s development and global exchange. This building is designed to reflect the flowing curves of the river in its undulating podium, while a gleaming titanium roof evokes sunlight reflecting on the river’s surface. Located at the top of the podium, the hotel tower’s sheer, sweeping angles resemble the sail of junk- the ancient wind-powered riverboat once common on the Yangtze.

Titanium clad convention center alongside the Yangtze river completed by Morphosis  - Sheet5
©Morphosis Architects/Tian Fangfang

The building’s components are influenced by its primary functions; the podium houses a conference centre of more than 36,000 sq.m., while the single-loaded tower is a 4-star hotel with 340 rooms that are oriented toward the river. The convention centre‘s huge program area is organized systematically in the podium by cladded box trusses that create a series of flexible conference spaces flanking a central 200-meter arcade that divides the building into two parts, north wing and south wing.

Titanium clad convention center alongside the Yangtze river completed by Morphosis  - Sheet6
©Morphosis Architects/Tian Fangfang
Titanium clad convention center alongside the Yangtze river completed by Morphosis  - Sheet7
©Morphosis Architects/Tian Fangfang

A short, perpendicular bridge connects the VIP entrances and the hotel tower intersected by this arcade, serving as the main circulation spine of the building. A skylight in the convention centre’s grand, formal entrance and atrium frame views of the hotel tower as it welcomes visitors to the arcade. The juxtaposition of interiors and exteriors is further reinforced by drawing the front façade of the hotel tower into the building, becoming the dramatic curved lines of the atrium.

Titanium clad convention center alongside the Yangtze river completed by Morphosis  - Sheet8
©Morphosis Architects/Tian Fangfang

Wave-like forms and an urban character are shaped by the site’s boundary condition between the river and city. A full-unitized metallic brise-soleil system forms the façade of the hotel tower on the city side to the north, which is comprised of efficiently panelized components that create an overall complex effect. In the daytime, the metal façade serves to shade the building and increase its energy efficiency; at night, lighting integrated into the facade defines the building’s presence in the city.

©Morphosis Architects/Tian Fangfang

With over 90,000 metallic panels rippling, the façade reflects the organic nature of the river’s edge to the south, on the riverside. This site has been designed according to a “sponge landscape” concept, which helps manage runoff from the site in an environmentally-friendly manner, especially on the riverside. Due to its high-performance façades and environmentally-conscious landscape design, the building has been awarded a “3-Star rating,” which is the highest sustainable design grade recognized by China’s national green building standard.

Research on materials in architecture and understanding their functions is essential for urban communities to construct sustainable projects. Social interaction is fostered, and beautiful spatial compositions are formed while remaining highly relevant and efficient to the context of the site.

References:

Morphosis.com. 2022. Morphopedia {{ stateParams.section ? ‘- ‘ + stateParams.section.charAt( 0 ).toUpperCase() + stateParams.section.slice( 1 ) : ” }}. [online] Available at: <https://www.morphosis.com/architecture/283/> [Accessed 9 January 2022].

Archello. 2022. Morphosis completes titanium clad convention center alongside the Yangtze river | Archello. [online] Available at: <https://archello.com/news/morphosis-completes-titanium-clad-convention-center-alongside-the-yangtze-river> [Accessed 9 January 2022].

World Architecture Community. 2022. Morphosis designs conference center featuring undulating podium clad in titanium panels in China. [online] Available at: <https://worldarchitecture.org/architecture-news/emcmg/morphosis-designs-conference-center-featuring-undulating-podium-clad-in-titanium-panels-in-china.html> [Accessed 9 January 2022].

Es, 2022. Morphosis completes a conference center inspired by the historic Yangtze River – Åvontuura. [online] Åvontuura. Available at: <https://www.avontuura.com/yangtze-river-international-conference-center-morphosis/> [Accessed 9 January 2022].

Archinect. 2022. Morphosis-designed conference center along Yangtze River opens in Nanjing Jiangbei New District, China. [online] Available at: <https://archinect.com/news/article/150291522/morphosis-designed-conference-center-along-yangtze-river-opens-in-nanjing-jiangbei-new-district-china> [Accessed 9 January 2022].

Archilovers. 2022. Morphosis-Designed Yangtze River International Conference Center Opens In Nanjing Jiangbei New District, China. [online] Available at: <https://www.archilovers.com/stories/29841/morphosis-designed-yangtze-river-international-conference-center-opens-in-nanjing-jiangbei-new-district-china.html> [Accessed 9 January 2022].

Author

Kishan Thakkar is an architect based in Ahmedabad exploring creative outlets and entrepreneurship. He is an avid learner who has a penchant for research, analysis and understanding different fields within the architecture and aspires to promote sustainable development. Discipline is the key to balance his diversified interest and work routine.

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