Sipopo congress center, Malabo _ Equatorial Guinea
The Sipopo Congress Center is situated near the ocean and surrounded by forest. The recently constructed Meeting Hall stands alongside.
The Center consists of a rectangular, two-storey block, contained within a semitransparent metal frame that creates a sensation of security and also acts as a solar shield, protecting the interior against the sun’s glare while ensuring an optimum level of interior lighting. The frame’s trellis structure filters out direct light and shades the building’s interior without interfering with transparency. Thanks to this elegant veil, the building merges visually with the ocean and trees, creating a sensation of serenity and reflecting the beauty of its natural surroundings. Encircled by and in perfect harmony with the green forest and blue ocean, and emphasising the building’s continuous, sheer glass walls, the grey-bronze trellis mimics the colours of the tree trunks and the solid travertine Conference Hall.
The installation of metal panels at different levels and angles gives the façade the appearance of a playful assortment of shapes that glitter in the light, reflecting not only nearby colours and shades but the motion of the wind and waves too. This iconic building speaks a unique language that communicates the movements and materials of nature through contemporary architecture.
During the day, precise patterns control the diffusion of light into the building while at night, when the lobbies and restaurant are illuminated, beams of light glide through the slits to communicate with the spirits of the forest and ocean. The main lobby is an atrium consisting of two spaces, with an interior design that conveys
a feeling of spaciousness and room to move. The main conference hall is a rectangular space on the first floor, with a circular seating arrangement. Located in the centre of the building, the hall is accessed through connecting lobbies on three sides. The entire design achieves a perfect balance between light and shade, and between communal transparency and political confidentiality. There are even VIP rooms on the ground floor,
to the back of the main hall. A restaurant, overlooking the bay, is also located at the first floor and is flanked by a foyer on two intersecting sides. The building’s modern architecture and interior design is expressed through the latest infrastructure and technology and through top quality building systems.
The walls, for example, are covered by sound-proofing panels. Natural materials like timber, stone and glass are used throughout. Each item, from the carpets to the natural stone floor slabs, is the result of careful design choices. The three-dimensional walls of each interior space are uniquely constructed using local materials. The bark of the local pine trees is reflected in the timber used for the restaurant, and traditional African geometric
motifs decorate the walls of the lobby. Even the lighting elements, including the chandeliers, are custom made to represent crystal-clear rain, bright waves or lively brooks. The building therefore represents the nation physically and symbolically. High technology and high security are found throughout. The utility, storage and service rooms and the maintenance facilities are located at ground level.
A transparent bridge connects the building to the older Meeting Hall, and repeats the same nature-inspired design solutions. The Congress Center is intended to be a source of pride for Africa. At the start of the entrance corridor, a map of the continent formed by lights welcomes arriving dignitaries and emphasises the Center’s message. Conceived as a diplomatic resort, the new Congress Center will form the heart of the presidential zone and host exclusive meetings in the tranquillity of a forest and seaside environment. In keeping with its function as a meeting place for national leaders, the building is designed for strength. Modern, simple and functional, it expresses itself through elegance. The Center exists in close harmony with its environment and makes optimum use of the resources of daylight, forest, ocean and panorama. In tune with its location in terms of nature and cultural heritage, the Sipopo Congress Center is not just another imported
glass box but a genuine and contemporary African creation, designed to host talks between African cultures. Africa’s leaders, meeting at the Sipopo Congress Center, cannot fail to perceive the building’s message: just like the mighty silk-cotton tree on the flag of Equatorial Guinea, the Sipopo Congress Center will gather national delegates under its roof in the name of ‘Unity Peace and Justice’.
CBI Europe is delighted that its products have contributed to the completion of one of the most significant buildings to have been constructed in Africa in recent years.
product installed: raised access floor, fully steel encapsulated panel
surface: 4.500 sqm
top covering: carpet lay-loose tiles
design: Tabanlioglu Architects