Expansive tent-like conference center nestles into snow-capped mountains
Nestled into the snow-covered landscape, MAD Architects' Yabuli Entrepreneurs' Congress Center is now finally complete in northern China. The building combines a striking exterior form with a stunning interior layout that's carefully arranged to maximize natural light and views.
The Yabuli Entrepreneurs' Congress Center was first unveiled back in 2017 and began operation back in 2020, but it took until now to actually fully complete it. The building is used to host the annual China Entrepreneurs Forum, the Chinese Entrepreneurs Museum, and various educational and motivational events. As its name suggests, it's located in Yabuli, a popular skiing destination, and its overall form is influenced by the rugged surroundings.
"From a distance, it looks like a giant white tent, floating down from the top of the mountain then gently dissipating into the snow," explained MAD. "The undulating ridgelines of the roof structure is inspired by the shape of distant snow-capped mountains while the organic and biological texture of the white aluminum panels recall the contours of fresh snow.
"The interior layout and circulation works with the building's height differences that follow the downward slope of the hill, leaving part of the building hidden underground. The main entrance is on the ground floor by the east side but the side entrance and exit are located on the second floor by the west side. While walking uphill in the snow, people see this structure as a humble gesture with open arms."
The interior of the Yabuli Entrepreneurs' Congress Center measures 16,000 sq m (roughly 172,200 sq ft), spread over four floors. Inside, its wood-lined interior is superbly realized and arranged around a large skylight at the center of the building that allows natural light to flood in – the design is actually a little reminiscent of MAD's Harbin Opera House, which is located in the same province. Additionally, though the roof is made up of undulating aluminum, sections of ETFE (a lightweight translucent plastic polymer) and generous glazing are positioned to increase the natural light and frame the stunning surrounding landscape.
The main conference hall is a large column-free space that can accommodate almost 1,000 people, while a 350-seat auditorium, a series of smaller conference rooms and studios, exhibition areas, a library and a museum lie elsewhere. The generously proportioned lobby can also function as a temporary performance space if required too.