Located near Papeete on the island of Tahiti in French Polynesia, the International Convention Centre and Theatres’ design sits on a sloping 5-hectare site with panoramic views overlooking the lagoon and its tropical sunsets. The design incorporates two theatres (350 and 1,200 seats), a large 3,500 seat performance hall, two conference rooms (300 and 600 seats), and a 4,000 sq. m multifunctional exhibition hall.

Rethinking The Future Awards 2023
First Award | Cultural (Concept)

Project Name: International Convention Centre and Theatres
Category: Cultural (Concept)
Studio Name: Zaha Hadid Architects
Design Team:
Architect Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA)
ZHA Project Director Jim Heverin
ZHA Project Leads Marie-Perrine Plaçais, Victor Orive
ZHA Project Team Karthikeyan Arunachalam, Anthony Awanis, Muriel Boselli, Ines Fontoura, Alejandro Garcia Gadea, Marco Guardincerri, Nelly Huang, Peter Irmscher, Man Jia, Mariagrazia Lanza, Nicolas Turchi, Adam Twigger, Angelica Videla, Adrian Yiu, Yuan Zhai

Area: 32,000m2
Year: 2022
Location: 5ha near Papeete, Tahiti Island, French Polynesia

Local Architect Tropical Architecture
Engineering Buro Happold
Theatre Consultant Charcoal Blue
Landscape Gillespies
Local engineering IPSI, Neonergie, Vaihupe
Venue Specialist Gaining Edge
Cost Consultant BMF Conseil
Photography Credits: N/A
Render Credits: Renders by Slashcube 

International Convention Centre and Theatres | Zaha Hadid Architects - Sheet2
©Zaha Hadid Architects

Zaha Hadid Architects’ set out to design a leading destination with sustainability at its core as a new national landmark for French Polynesia, while staying true and respectful to the cultural importance of the site and the power of the archipelago’s nature. This was achieved by dividing the 32,000 sq. m brief into smaller volumes and composing them around a stepped park enveloped by tropical vegetation. Echoing a traditional Tahitian village, all venues are directly and independently accessible from the central park running through the heart of the design. The foyers of all venues are open to the outside and extended by large canopies that provide a close relationship to the park’s external plazas. This succession of canopies creates a continuous shelter to protect and guide visitors to each venue. The various scales and textures of the timber architecture and the gentle curvature of the canopies interact with the sunlight and tropical vegetation while framing a cinematic experience of extraordinary views over the lagoon.

International Convention Centre and Theatres | Zaha Hadid Architects - Sheet3
©Zaha Hadid Architects

Zaha Hadid Architects’ proposal is a very low carbon design that is unique to the climate and resources of Tahiti, with a 375kgCO2e/m2 initial embodied carbon impact, 50% below the RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge target and a net zero carbon in operation target (-6kWh/m2/y). The project embodies Polynesian culture and reinterprets the climatic intelligence of its traditional architecture. Environmental performance is primarily based on passive design measures that allow for natural ventilation of all the venues, the use of locally sourced timber and low-carbon concrete together with the rationality of the construction, resulting in an efficient and flexible design while respecting a tight budget. The project also serves its community by maximising the circular economy through the choice of local materials and craftsmanship.

International Convention Centre and Theatres | Zaha Hadid Architects - Sheet4
©Zaha Hadid Architects

This subtle and inspired composition of all these elements results in a bold, yet sophisticated project that extends beyond geometric and technical complexity. Visitors and tourists are immersed in a vivid and rich celebration of Polynesia, its weather, ecology and materiality, while the islanders embrace their new cultural park that proudly embodies Polynesian values.