Dalian International Conference Center
Coop Himmelb(l)au

January 04, 2016 /

Dalian, China

1.dalian.jpgPhoto © Shu He

By Kirsten Kiser

A multi-functional "small city within a city" with conference and event rooms for 7,000 visitors. A landmark for the prospering harbor city of Dalian.

The World Economic Forum, the main user, mainly known for its annual meetings in  Davos, Switzerland annually organizes a "summer  Davos" at this new site in China. The requirements for this function determined the spatial concept, the size and number of conference rooms and offices.

2.dalian.jpgPhoto © Shu He

To make the building's architectural concept and function visible from the outside, the conference halls penetrate the facade. They stand out against the metallic outer skin and deform it. 

3.dalian.jpgPhoto © Shu He

4.dalian.jpgPhoto © Shu He

5.dalian.jpgPhoto © Duccio Malagamba

6.dalian.jpgPhoto © Duccio Malagamba

7.dalian.jpgPhoto © Shu He

The perforated aluminum slats of the exterior shell provide a sufficient amount of daylight and give the building its striking sculptural shape. The slats are opened in some of the public areas, offering selective views of the city and the bay of Dalian. 

The two major urban axes converging give rise to the building's position and basic shape. The Conference Hall and Opera House are located in the center of the building beneath the shell-shaped, partially translucent roof.   

Small conference rooms surround this core like pearls, forming an internal urban structure with squares and streets that invite visitors to linger and chat - informal meeting spaces that are so important for conferences. The controlled supply of daylight assists the visitors in their spatial orientation and creates  a atmospheric variety on the inside. 

8.dalian.jpgPhoto © Duccio Malagamba

9.dalian.jpgPhoto © Duccio Malagamba

10.dalian.jpgPhoto © Duccio  Malagamba

11.dalian.jpgPhoto © Duccio Malagamba

12.dalian.jpgPhoto © Duccio Malagamba

Since the opera and conference center lie directly behind one another, the main stage can be used for the classic theater auditorium just as well as for the flexible multi-purpose hall. The opera house is based on a multifunctional design and can be used for  events  such  as conferences, music and theater all the way to classic opera with very little effort. 

13.dalian.jpgPhoto © Duccio Malagamba

14.dalian.jpgPhoto © Duccio Malagamba

Despite its enormous size for 7,000 people, the building is as vibrant as a city. The entry hall has the size of four football fields and reaches up to 45 meters high. Even with this size, the building is not forbidding but rather clearly arranged and inviting./ Wolf D. Prix -  Design Principal and CEO of Coop  Himmelb(l)au

The building consists of two elements, the table and the roof. The opera, conference halls and access zones rest on the table-shaped steel construction, with a three-dimensional deformed facade-roof construction above it. Both elements are steel space frames with depths ranging between five and eight meters.  The whole structure is supported by fourteen vertical cores made of composite steel and concrete. The steel constructions were produced at Chinese shipyards, since these were the only facilities where the 10-cm steel plates could be welded safely and precisely. Modern technology and construction expertise allowed for span widths of more than 85 meters and projections of more than 40 meters.

Dalian's  location on the sea, along with the strong wind were essential environmental natural resources to minimize energy consumption.

The relative thermal energy of the  sea water and the natural ventilation of the enormous air volumes in the building are used for the cooling in the summer and heating in the winter. The atrium beneath the roof is conceived as a solar-heated, naturally ventilated sub climatic area. A high degree of natural daylight reduces the energy consumption for artificial lighting and has a positive psychological effect. Integrated into the shape of the building, solar panels provide additional energy.

15.dalian.jpgDrawing courtesy Coop Himmelb(l)au

16.dalian.jpgDrawing courtesy Coop Himmelb(l)au

17.dalian.jpgDrawing courtesy Coop Himmelb(l)au

18.dalian.jpgDrawing courtesy Coop Himmelb(l)au

An architectural monograph, covering the Dalian International Conference Center from the first concept sketch to the final building was published in May 2015. An essay, written by Joseph  Giovannini, architect as well as architectural critic, introduces the reader to the history, attitude and design related processes of Coop  Himmelb(l)au, as well as examining China's nowadays pivotal point in its history.

19.dalian.jpgDrawing courtesy Coop Himmelb(l)au

Facts about Dalian International Conference Center



Site Area:

40,000 m2


33,000 m2

Opera House:

Seats 1,800

Conference Hall:

Room for 2,500 visitors


Dalian Municipal People's Government, P.R. China


Coop Himmelb(l)au Wolf D. Prix & Partner ZT GmbH

Design Principal:

Wolf D. Prix

Project Partner:

Paul Kath (2008-10), Wolfgang Reicht (2010-12)

Design Architect:

Alexander Ott

Project Architect:

Wolfgang Reicht

Design Team:

Quirin Krumbholz, Eva Wolf, Victoria Coaloa

Project Coordination China:

Lei Feng

Local Partner:

DADRI Dalian Institute of Architecture Design and Research Co. LTD

Structural Engineering:

B+G Ingenieure, Bollinger Grohmann Schneider ZT-GmbH, Vienna, Austria


Müller-BBM, Planegg, Germany

Stage Design:

BSEDI Beijing Special Engineering Design and Research Institute, Beijing, P.R. China

Lighting Design:

a•g Licht, Wilfried Kramb, Bonn, Germany

Audio & Video:

CRFTG Radio, Film and Television Design & Research Institute, Beijing, P.R. China

Climatic Design:

Prof. Brian Cody, Berlin, Germany

General Contractor:

China Construction Eight Engineering Division, Dalian, P.R. China

Last updated: January 04, 2016

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