by Jincy IypeJun 16, 2021
Nestled within the quiet, snow-capped mountains of Northeast China, Yabuli Entrepreneurs’ Congress Center conceived by MAD Architects is nearing completion. The Chinese architecture firm was commissioned by the Yabuli China Entrepreneurs Forum (Yabuli CEF), one of China’s most influential business organisations, to design a permanent home for them back in 2017. MAD and Yabuli CEF imagined a soft, sinuous form that lay embedded in the mountainous setting, as “a progressive architecture – one that fosters growth, innovative thinking, and is continuously evolving; a place of strong vitality and creativity to embody the entrepreneurs’ boldness and wisdom”.
The conference centre’s undulating, snowy white roof settles gently into the wintery landscape, its 16,198 sqm form designed to reference the organisation’s “entrepreneurial spirit,” designed primarily to host annual summits for the members. Yabuli Entrepreneurs’ Congress Center is built within Yabuli ski resort, and saw over 600 businesspersons in attendance for its opening ceremony from November 18 -20, 2020, the Yabuli CEF’s 20th annual conference.
The scheme for the landmark architecture is suggestive of a tent resting at the foot of a mountain, “with its soft, curving, silver-white rooftop echoing the snow-capped hills surrounding it,” remarks Ma Yansong, Founder and Principal Partner-in-Charge, MAD Architects. This overhanging roof houses a large central atrium underneath that separates the structure into two sections, one with a massive 1000-seater auditorium and the other with smaller halls, studios and conference spaces. The four-storey building reaches a height of 23.3 meters and also hosts a museum and additional exhibition spaces. Windows are organised such that visitors and users always get uninterrupted panoramic views of the surrounding natural scenery.
A massive glass skylight above the form’s central atrium floods the interiors with natural light during the day, and emits soft, artificial illumination at night, the light from within glowing outward into the dark forest. This has been imagined as a metaphoric representation of the act of gathering around a campfire to share and discuss stories and thoughts, drawing on light as a symbol of divine ideas and knowledge, akin to the thought-provoking entrepreneurial discussions held within its confines.
An outdoor public plaza at the entrance and the back, and a glass walkway surrounds and leads to and fro from the building respectively. Visitors stand in awe of the architecture and its powerful elements, how it connects and imbibes with the surrounding nature. The cavernous interior design is informed by flowing timber lined walls that create a soft, warm atmosphere as the daylight hits them. “While humble in its presence, it does not lose the dynamic atmosphere of northern China – integrated with the sky, the ground, the snow, the forest, and the mountains,” says the firm.
Since its inception in 2001, Yabuli CEF has become one of the most influential business organisations for Chinese tycoons. It now has 78 members including international well-known entrepreneurs such as Jack Ma (Alibaba), Robin Li (Baidu), Yang Yuanqing (Lenovo), Lei Jun (Xiaomi) and Michael Yu (New Oriental). For the last 19 years, its members have congregated in Yabuli every winter and their influential and permanent new home upon completion “will form a landscape of ideas, nature and art, and stand as a significant meeting place for Chinese and international entrepreneurs alike to gather and share ideas,” shares the design team.
Name: Yabuli Entrepreneurs’ Congress Center
Location: Yabuli, China
Site Area: 22,000 sqm
Building Area: 16,198 sqm
Building Height: 23.3 m
Years: 2017 - 2020
Architect: MAD Architects
Principal Partners in Charge: Ma Yansong, Dang Qun, Yosuke Hayano
Associate Partners in Charge: Liu Huiying, Tiffany Dahlen
Design Team: Li Guangchong, Sun Shouquan, Deng Wei, Song Chi, Zhang Xiaomei, Huai Wei, Zhao Meng, Wang Shuobin, Zhang Yanru, Yuki Ishigami, Xiao Ying, Tian Jin
Client: China Entrepreneur Forum
Executive Architects: China Architecture Design & Research Group
Façade Consultant: RFR Shanghai, Kighton Façade Consultant
Landscape Architects: BJF International Design
Interior Design Consultant: Shanghai Xian Dai Architectural Decoration & Landscape Design Research Institute Co., Ltd.
Lighting Consultant: Brandston Partnership Inc.
Signage Consultant: Dongdao Creative Branding Group
Acoustics Consultant: Beijing Tsinghua Tongheng Urban Planning & Design Institute
LEED Consultant: AECOM Beijing