In an effort to introduce contemporary architecture to a rural village near Nanjing, China, local firm AZL Architects designed a striking community space topped with a soaring zig-zag canopy roof.
Though largely inspired by vernacular greenhouses and communal auditoriums, the new 32,000-square-foot structure incorporates modern techniques like a prefab steel skeleton, allowing the interior to be open and column-free. But instead of sleek glass or metal for cladding, the “Shitang Internet Conference Center” is wrapped in warm wood, evoking some of the natural appeal of the surrounding countryside.
Inside, the open, multi-functional space is large enough to accommodate cultural events and conferences. The layout can be changed as needed to become a performance auditorium or gathering area. Large doors open up onto the exterior colonnade, sheltered by the deeply overhanging roof.
The multi-gabled roofline allows two long parallel skylights to run the length of the auditorium, bringing in natural light. Other areas of the building can be used as offices, a lounge, or other multi-purpose spaces.