The beautiful Sipopo Congress Center serves as a negotiation hall for leaders of diverse African cultures in Malabo, the capital city of Equatorial Guinea. Located on the western coast of Africa near the Guinea Gulf, the transparent rectangular volume is enveloped in a lace-like, sun-shading mesh. The mesh is the color of the local trees and is able to filter the sun to protect the naturally daylit interior from overheating, but it also remains transparent enough to provide stunning views of the ocean and the surrounding forest. Sipopo Congress Center was designed by Istanbul-based firm Tabanlıoğlu Architects, and was shortlisted for an award in the civic and community category for the 2011 World Architecture Festival.
The two-story building sits on the edge of the sea and forest, and its design was directly inspired by the native trees and the hue of the ocean. A brilliant blue glass facade is tempered with a lace-like shade screen, which was also colored to match the trunks of the trees. The bronze mesh panels have been strategically placed in order to minimize solar heat gain by the filtering the sun’s rays. In this way the building’s cooling needs are reduced and energy efficiency is ensured.
The volume is accessed through a transparent pedestrian bridge from the old building into the new center. Visitors and employees first enter a double height atrium and lobby that is dappled with sunlight and occupies one whole side of the building. Offices, meeting rooms, a VIP lounge and restaurant flank the sides. A large circular conference hall is bound by an opaque wall covered with materials to address acoustic issues. Timber, natural stone and glass, all locally sourced, were chosen in order to reduce ambient sounds and improve the acoustics in the hall. Interior decor was inspired by local motifs, regional landscape forms, vegetation and the area’s heritage.
Image ©Emre Dörter