Kutubu Convention Centre: Case Study   Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

Kutubu is Papua New Guinea’s first integrated commercial development - an aspirational project designed to host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders’ Meeting (APEC) in 2018. Located in the nation’s capital Port Moresby, and is centrally sited on a 5-hectare sloping former stone quarry site. The site is organised around a central circular plaza which allows direct access to the buildings and is the primary entry and arrival space.

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Kutubu, is the largest glued-laminated structure that has been designed by Grimshaw. Set over three levels, the 5,500 sq m convention centre is designed around a 650-seat state-of-the-art event space which is submerged to join the service building and give direct access to the amphitheatre. Hovering above is the monumental roof of Kutubu, inspired by the traditional timber long houses which form the heart of the country’s rural villages. The roof is the visual landmark for the convention centre. Built of FSC certified gluelam timber, sustainably sourced from New Zealand plantations. As the visual landmark of the development, the roof spans 30m, rising to a height of 18m and with a curved cantilevered canopy – This 103m long completed structure includes specially designed glulam portals, purlins and connections.

The structure cantilevers on the north and south ends, and on the western edge it is lifted into a 6m deep cantilevered canopy opening towards the hotel and arrival spaces.

Through the materials, colours and patterns of the interiors of Kutubu pays homage to Papua New Guinea’s traditional measure of currency, the cowrie shell, as well as the region’s landscape and indigenous crafts.

With a planting scheme scheme featuring over 12000 native species and indigenous art installations, Kutubu seeks to allow vistors and locals to experience and take pride in the culture, nature flora and fauna of the island. 

Kutubu is a legacy project as part of the government’s initiative to attract international travellers to explore the beauty of the island. The mixed development which includes a 5 star hotel, convention and performance centre provided free training and free health care for all staff during construction, and now employs local staff in all operations.

Full development plan view including Hilton hotels and Kutubu convention centre

Working within the Australian building regulations and standards that apply in Papua New Guinea was challenging while coordinating multiple complicated structural elements. The complex geometry and detailed connections needed to be carefully crafted and designed with the specialist timber engineer to make sure the assembly was properly completed on site.

Acoustic design of the roof was a key design challenge in 2 ways:

Due to the shape of the roof, noise generated during large gathering in the open function spaces could be magnified by the curvature. In the summer months there are periods of intense rainfall where the impact noise would make the outdoor spaces unusable.

To solve these issues acoustic computer modelling informed the design of the roof build up to comprise a heavy internal insulation layer as well as a perforated internal lining panels with acoustic absorption.

Through a collaborative approach, the project team has created a significant timber structure, which is exceptional in terms of its scale and environmental relevance. The projects used a 5-axis gantry CNC from NZ. Prefabricated sections were laid out in the factory and assembled to ensure that all would go together once on-site assembly began. This process significantly reduced waste on site and provided a safer and efficient construction process.

“I feel this is my project and I see all of Papua New Guinea here; this is from my country.”

Ragan-PNG National, Chief Concierge Hilton


1. FSC Gluelam NZ timber structure – 103m long completed structure including Glulam portals, purlins and connections.

2. Façade – Double glazed façade and timber louvre system throughout protecting from direct sunlight.

3. Restaurants – Restaurant facilities using timber interiors throughout and local artists decorations.

4, Landscape design which regenerates a former gravel quarry – A gardening team of 6-8 staff was established, supplemented by up to 20 labourers assisting during planting.

5. The roof rainfall collection includes Roof area: 4,100m2; Annual rainfall on site: 1,017mm; Six tanks holding approx. 2.4 megalitres total.

6. Heat and ventilation – The roof insulation protects the outdoor function spaces from the intense tropical heat. Louvres run the length of east and west sides of the roof to allow for cross ventilation and indirect light.

7. Event space – The pre-function and the adjacent multi-purpose banquette hall can be switched to a naturally ventilation mode, and opened to join with the outdoor amphitheatre to create a continuous event space.

Key Sustainability Facts

Project Site


Transect Zone / Climate Zone

Tropical savanna climate



Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

NZ wood timber design awards 2020

Project Partner/Lead
Neil Stonell

Project Team
Grimshaw, Ignite Architects, Kirk Roberts NZ,( Specialist Timber Engineer), BGT, (Structural Engineer), NDY, RLB, AECOM, Landscape Architecture Aoteroa, Noble Fox

Stratum Group Unlimited