Yabuli Entrepreneurs’ Congress Center, designed by MAD Architects, is nearing completion. Nestled in the snow-covered mountains of Northeastern China, the project was commissioned by the Yabuli China Entrepreneurs Forum (Yabuli CEF), one of China’s most influential business organizations. November 18th to 20th saw the venue’s opening ceremony and its first event, the Yabuli CEF’s 20th annual conference, attended by over 600 entrepreneurs.
The Yabuli CEF was founded in 2001, on the eve of China’s entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO), and has since become one of the most influential platforms for Chinese entrepreneurs. The platform now has 78 members, including international well-known entrepreneurs such as Jack Ma (Alibaba), Robin Li (Baidu), Yang Yuanqing (Lenovo), Lei Jun (Xiaomi) and Michael Yu (New Oriental). For the past 19 years, the CEF’s members have gathered in Yabuli every winter to exchange ideas, leading to Yabuli being termed “The Davos of China”.
In 2017, MAD Architects was commissioned by the Yabuli CEF to design and build a permanent venue for their annual summits; a landmark which could carry their members’ entrepreneurial spirit. MAD envisioned a building embedded in the mountain forest, a place of strong vitality and creativity to embody the entrepreneurs’ boldness and wisdom.
Nestled among Yabuli’s mountainous terrain, MAD’s scheme evokes the concept of a tent sitting at the foot of a mountain, with its soft, curving, silver-white rooftop echoing the snow-capped hills surrounding it. During the day, natural light floods the internal spaces through a giant glass skylight. At night, the same skylight allows a warm glow to soar from the building into the cold mountain forest, evoking the image of a campfire around which entrepreneurs share ideas, thoughts, and stories. Inside, a blend of wooden walls and natural light create a warm, soft atmosphere, while an outdoor public plaza and glass walkway allow users to marvel and be inspired by the connection between architecture and nature.
Alongside its role as a host for large-scale conferences, the venue also contains an exhibition hall, meeting rooms, and a television hall, creating a blend of mixed-use spaces that can accommodate conferences, corporate training, and other events. The venue is also open to the public, with the exhibition hall serving as a valuable tool for showcasing and exploring Chinese entrepreneurship.
Reflecting on the project, the President of the Yabuli CEF said, “After over forty years of the ‘reform and opening-up policy’, Yabuli Entrepreneurs’ Congress Center is now a spiritual sanctuary that Chinese entrepreneurs are and will be in awe of”. Having been funded and established by 50 Yabuli CEF members, the building’s property rights belong to the NGO, allowing the venue to become a valuable social treasure. Upon completion, Yabuli Entrepreneurs’ Congress Center will mark an important milestone in the journey of Chinese entrepreneurship, where “the Davos of China” can become “the Yabuli of the World”.