genius loci – spirit of place
The cultural and geographical context of Calabar (Nigeria) offered a unique opportunity for design exploration. Mecanoo created a design for the Calabar International Convention Center in an invited competition with four other international architecture practices. Mecanoo’s sensitive approach to the project interweaving the contextualsocial, economic and geographical conditions. A key factor taken into account is Calabar’s limited infrastructure: the new convention center had to be flexible, adaptable and easy to maintain. The building has to offer efficient climate control in response to the hot and humid climate of the region.
fusion of building and landscape
Mecanoo’s architectural response takes into consideration the characteristic topography of the hilly landscape and places the building within the contour of the landscape. The first gesture in the landscape is a cut that defines a grand covered esplanade. This gesture creates a main entrance and runs through the entire complex from north to south. Different cuts in the landscape create various openings, as well as views to points of interest on the surrounding site. Natural daylight enters the entire complex through skylights and terraces that are punched out across the hilly roof/landscape. The earth’s cooler temperature acts as a natural cooling system for the entire complex. covered esplanade
The central esplanade functions as a main atrium for the Calabar Convention Center. This entrance expands into vast greenery which creates diverse, open, public spacesincluding gardens and plazas for open air events and other activities. The esplanade is an iconic structure that provides a strong sense of place and an appropriate response to the climate.
The various functions of the building are distributed along the esplanade. A main hall (1,500 capacity), visitor’s centre, multifunctional exhibition hall (600 capacity), exhibition centre, event rooms, meeting rooms, offices, medical facility and business centre (composed of 4 peripheral halls, which can be grouped as 1, 2 or 3 spaces) are all located on one side of the esplanade. Cafes, restaurants and shops are located on the other side. A loading bay, equipped to handle large trucks, services the entire convention centre via a straight corridor that links the entire complex.........more