Segundo lugar no Concurso para Reconstrução do Centro de Conferências para a 23a Cúpula dos Estados da União Africana.

Despite being an interesting testimony to the time it was built, as well as a memory of the 14th OAU Summit Conference that occurred in 1977, the Libreville Conference Center is now not only obsolete to host the 23rd edition of the same event, but above all lacks an architectural identity capable of signaling the actual moment of the country. Gabon is now an emerging nation that presents itself as a key element in the economic and political restructuring of Africa.

Made with prefabricated structure of reinforced concrete and glass walls, the edifice of the conference center is the constructive expression of a past, industrial and developmental time, when the country had just ceased being a colony and was still preparing for the major urban growth that would follow. Today, the growing service economy of Gabon, associated with globalization, calls for greater clarity in the definition of certain constructed signs. Therefore, we propose to involve the existing edifice with a circular translucent skin, made of ultra-resistance concrete slabs, a material capable of thermally protecting the construction from the heat prevailing in the region (but this cladding can also be specified in perforated steel plate, translucent glass or perforated ceramic plates, according to the technical performance and running costs). With a diameter of 110 meters, the new building is perfectly capable of housing the entire desired program, and it also provides a new image for the Center: a perfect cylinder, loose from the ground, and almost diaphanous, given its irregular perforation. And if the visual reading of the hexagonal shape of the building is almost impossible in the current situation, the form will be revealed in confrontation with the new circular perimeter, in the internal spaces of the future Center.  It is a simple operation that reveals the hidden virtues in the existing work by adding lightness to it. Thus, the Conference Centre will really gain the dignity of a “palace” – a word that has named it from the origin in the French language.

This new envelope, however, does not mean a great obstruction in relation to the surroundings. Because the skin is not only hollow, but the new roof of the complex will only shade the environment, allowing, therefore, the entry of air and rain to create a desired permeability between the inner and outer spaces of the building. Thus, we propose a second glass covering, an internal curve, which protects the central hall of the complex, while maintaining the visual reading of the rest of the construction, as well as the atmospheric events in its interior.

By cutting and removing a slice of the existing hexagon, we were able to accommodate an excellent auditorium with 1,000 seats, capable of being divided by an insulating curtain into two independent 500-seat auditoriums with no loss of spatial solution. Thus, the core of the building is entirely intended for reception and distribution (lobby) functions, covered by the glass dome and linked to the auditorium foyers and coffee areas. The floor below is used as a place for exhibition and ballroom, connecting to the main access quota. The slab floor of the lobby, and ballroom covering, is made of a triangular wooden trellis that opens cracks allowing air and light to pass through to the floor below.

All the circulation system is mounted from the expansion area of ​​the edifice by building three clearly identifiable towers on the heads of the interspersed hexagons connected to the old building through bridges. The technical accesses, public and VIPs are conveniently separated, working independently.

Cylindrical and ethereal, the new Conference Palace is the symbol of the meeting of African peoples around the principles of freedom, tolerance and democratic sustainable development.

technical information

Client: União Africana
Project date: 2012
Built area: 18 971,00 m²
Architectural project: Metro Arquitetos Associados: Gustavo Cedroni, Martin Corullon; PPMS Arquitetos Associados: Pedro Paulo de Melo Saraiva, Pedro de Melo Saraiva, Fernando de Magalhães Mendonça; SIAA Arquitetos Associados: Cesar Shundi Iwamizu.
Collborators: Metro: Marina Ioshii, Filipe Barrocas, Marcelo E. M. Macedo, Luis Tavares, Francisca Lopes, Rafael de Sousa Silva, Bruno Jin Young Kim, Felipe Fuchs; PPMS: Paula Hori; SIAA: Alex Lima de Holanda, Andrei Barbosa, Bruno Salvador, Dulci Cipriano, Marcio Tanaka, Rafael Goffinet, Rafael Carvalho.
EKF: Evani Kuperman Franco, Mauricio Soares Alito, Robson Rodrigues de Camargo.
Zoo concept: Liliane Milanelo.
Golf concept: Roberto Ferrari.
Structure: Kurkdjian & Fruchtengarten Engenheiros Associados: Eng. Jorge Zaven Kurkdjian.
Foudations: MG&A – Engº Mauri Gotlieb.
MEP – HVAC: LMSA Engenharia de Edifícios S.A.
Project management: Luís Elvas / João Brás.
Electrical: Marcelino Lopes.
Communications: Paulo Teixeira.
Security and safety: Catarina Neves.
Hydraulics: Márcio Pereira.
Lighting: Luis Elvas.
Building management system: Valter Campos
Acoustics: Odete Domingos.
Sustainability: João Pedro Santos / Miguel Coutinho.
Architectural descriptive report: Guilherme Wisnik.
Photographer: Alessandro Kusuki.
Estimated Cost: Engº Decio Fleury Silveira.