Redesigning SAP – Chennai into a Convention Centre

Aim of the Design Project

Generate cultural and social interaction in the convention centre and applying smart technology yet rendering the possible nature of activities limitless.


Urban site that is commercially vibrant. Program manifestation is done to understand the nature  of activities, their relation and required distribution. A layering of them was done to generate the form and space.

SAP - Chennai into a Convention Centre
SAP - Chennai into a Convention Centre

Program Clustering

Each individual block is sited in correspondence to their requires climatic conditions with an integration of programs and concepts of sustainability that gives them a holistic dependency that becomes intrinsic to the functioning of the building.

Programmatic Distribution

  • Programs zoning in accordance with the different user  groups and user occupancy with primary functions of conventions zoned on the first floor and the second floors enabling privacy. The public facilities including the amphitheatre, auditorium, exhibition spaces zoned on the ground floor along site peripheries offering visual connectivity for passers.

  • Atrium with cafeteria: effervescence of the centre serves as a pre-functional and post-functional space during events.
  • Member facilities and guest rooms: south-east corner of the site with facilities of gym, swimming pool, library and restaurant.

Climatic Aspects

Studying the climatic aspects of the place is very essential. It helps us to orient the building as per the requirements to avoid discomfort.

  • The city has extreme composite climate.
  • Prevailing wind direction: North-west.
  • Summers are hot and dry with temperatures rising up as high as 45 degree centigrade.
  • The summer and winter solstice affecting the regional temperature, lighting and ventilation, imperative for the convention centre were amongst the primary design considerations.
  • The sun’s angle being more or less overhead in summer has been blocked for improved comfortability, while the winter sun has been admitted into the centre through the roof profile.
  • To cater to Chennai’s low humidity, water bodies have been provided either in the form of a pond, sprinklers or a water wall. This along with the movement of the wind would cause evaporation, thus cooling the hot summer breeze entering the building along with an aesthetic appeal.
  • Monsoons usually last from July to September….
  • The challenge  of the design project is in achieving comfort in such extreme conditions.
  • Extruded as a virtual block, the site was layered with the wind movement pattern resulting with voids punctures along its line of travel. These ultimately serve as an open transitional spaces between the interior and the exterior for enhanced interaction. The layering: program + sustainability.

Designing the Exhibition Space

  • Cultural diversity showcased through works of artists and locals include permanent works and rotating exhibitions. The permanent collection consists of gifts, long term loans and commitments from museums, corporations, art organizations, private collectors and professional artists who continually display works from their collections.
  • These exhibitions are complimented by programs of company presentations, conferences and seminars which address issues related to each show. Its equipped with flags, portable stage, equipment booth, projection screen, and other equipments.
  • Versatile and flexible spatially, it is located on the north western corner of the site. The form is designed to capture the hot north-west winds and hence cool or heat the structure using the concept of stack effect. On the northern side, the façade id doubly glazed which acts like a dual layer if skin protecting the structure.
  • The location is favourably designed with the space abutting the road, which further enhanaces the program as it has high visibility from the adjacent street. Its hall facing north and perforating the façade is done to capture maximum light.

Designing an Auditorium

  • An auditorium of cpapacity 400 is located on the south-west corner of the site reducing the heat load on the structure.
  • Further the structure is enclosed by a two layer skin, the outer of which is made of aluminium laps that possesses high heat retaining capacity enabling to reduce the heat load further.
  • It is completely closed and air-conditioning is provided via solar air conditioners that suitably functions.

Design of an Amphitheatre

  • Located on the north-west corner of the site, it comes in direct confluence with the high thermal north-west trade winds, these winds are trapped by the geo-thermal processor for conditioning the air round the year.
  • Informal in nature it can be closed with the help of louvers during the winter so as to prevent the cold in-flow. A water body is placed right beyond this so as to add moisture to the incoming dry winds and thus enable evaporative cooling to the surrounding spaces.
  • This feature makes obvious placement of wind tower which is positioned to catch this wind to take it through the geo-thermal tunnel and finally opening up in an atrium.

Design of the Atrium

  • Semi-open, housing a water body and a cafeteria which encourages informal interaction and discussions.
  • The structure is covered by solar panels which are positioned parallel to the winter sun and designed to obstruct  the summer at a calculated angle of 140 degrees which thus enables power generation.
  • Thus, the structure is well protected during summer and can be used perennially. The space is 18m high and the space can be assessed as dual in nature separated by the water body and the corridors at different levels.

Wind Tower

Placed on the north-west corner to capture the hot winds which are further cooled using the water bodies, viewing decks are cantilevered from the tower which can be accessed from the amphitheatre roof offering a complete view of the building and the surrounding cityscape.

Design of the Lobby space

Located facing the road, lobby space is designed such that the shorter side faces the west, the thermal inflow into the building being minimal.

Extra Services

It includes 24 hour security, reception, travel agent, car hire, taxi service, news agent, gift shop, film and document processing, courier and retail banks. The concept of high technology has been applied in the cooling techniques through a mixed mode method of cooling, positioning of openings, building orientation, solar protection, passive lighting, landscaping, wing walls.

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