One of four entrants to the competition to envision the new Calabar International Convention Center in Nigeria, Mecanoo Architecten took placement to heart by tucking the complex underneath the hilly local topography. The design calls for a grand entrance that run north south through the hillside, feeding a plaza hosting numerous water elements.

The stitching of the convention center to the landscape is furthered by numerous openings at different elevations providing walkouts and daylight. Large skylights provide daylight to the main corridor and upper gathering areas. The main hall has a capacity of 1,500 people with a smaller exhibition area than can hold 600. A series of support rooms, meeting spaces, and a business center provide a diverse set of functions for the facility.

The subterranean design is a response to the hot and humid climate. The thermal mass can hold latent heat from people and equipment which can then later be expelled without large air handling equipment. The design lost to a more conventional approach by Henning Larsen Architects but expresses clearly the desire to integrate architecture more closely with the land to not only maintain greenscape but to significantly reduce demand on infrastructure and energy resources.

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