A pivotal component of Songdo’s development as an international business hub, the ConvensiA Convention Center is prominently located at the southern end of Central Park, the main public green space in the 1,415-acre, master-planned community.
The low-rise complex is conceptualized as a series of folded roof planes— a “landscape” that extends the natural setting of the park into the city. The large-scale folds are segments of arcs that contain the convention center’s main programmatic elements, including exhibition halls, pre-function areas, support space, and the loading zone.
Support spaces are articulated as a series of freestanding blocks, above which the curved roofs floats, like a series of upturned boat hulls. The planar areas between these hull-shaped forms are folded upward to generate a series of large, gable-like openings that push the pre-function areas outward, engaging the street and providing large, light-filled gathering spaces for convention visitors.
The boat elements, which are shaped like large bow-trusses, form the primary structural system for the convention center and support a 144-meter-long, column-free span. Viewed from the street, the alternating gable and boat forms recall the jagged profile of the surrounding Korean mountain ranges rising through the clouds, a visual metaphor accentuated during the foggy days that pervade Incheon during the year.
A head-house area—a long, sweeping volume that contains meeting rooms, the ballroom, and administrative spaces—mediates the relationship between the convention center and Central Park, as well as the 70-story mixed-use tower, a 30-story hotel, and a retail mall also on the convention center block.
“It’s sculptural when seen from the air, and a notable event,” said Jamie von Klemperer of Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates. “It’s a keystone of this free-trade, airport center, and tied directly to the aerotropolis here.
Airport cities are a new phenomenon.” Convensia’s undulating shape recalls the hull of a ship turned upside down. Its exterior skin is bead-blasted stainless steel, yielding an indirect shimmer, its shingle-like forms recalling the scales of a fish reflecting the sun and lights of the city.
At ground level, the building is also approachable, its arched, swooping, signature roof reaching down to touch the earth. Giant arches create a column-free space inside, the length of several football fields. The arches stabilize the building in 500-foot spans. “It’s the arch form that makes the truss-like span,” Jamie said.
The project has 645,000 square feet (60,000 square meters) of exhibition space, 86,000 square feet (8,000 square meters) of ballroom space, and 50,000 square feet (4,600 square meters) of meeting and conference rooms.
A program of sustainable design strategies, from low-e glazing and designated parking for electric vehicles to a gray-water system, ensures that the convention center conforms to the environmental agenda of Songdo IBD, making it the first convention center in Asia to achieve LEED certification.
Location: Songdo IBD, Incheon, Korea
Architect: Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates
Project Team: BAUM, Associate Architect
Size: 1.2 million ft2 / 111,000 m2
Client: NSIC (Gale International and POSCO E&C JV)