Sou Fujimoto has constantly explored the relationship between nature and artefacts to deliver spaces that resemble unrestrictive yet protective envelopes. The proposal for the exhibition space in Shenzhen, China, is a testament to this ideology.

Shenzhen exhibition complex with transparent facade designed by Sou Fujimoto - Sheet1
Proposed Exhibition Hall with a transparent façade ©Sou Fujimoto Architects and Donghua Chen Studio

The proposed exhibition hall is one among the three future landmarks of the Futian District geared towards the modernization of Shenzhen in the purview of entrepreneurship and business innovation. The Shenzhen Reform and Opening-Up Exhibition Hall competition sponsored by the Shenzhen Municipal Public Works Bureau was won by the collaborative entry of Sou Fujimoto Architects from Japan and Donghua Chen Studio in China. The two-fold intervention includes a Reform Hall covering about 35,000 square meters and a public urban park spanning the 47,000 square meters surrounding the Hall. 

Shenzhen exhibition complex with transparent facade designed by Sou Fujimoto - Sheet2
The intervention comprising of the Reform Hall and the Urban Park ©Sou Fujimoto Architects and Donghua Chen Studio

The space within reads like a progression of volumes, the central space evocative of a massive atrium. With a super built-up area of 90,000 sqm, the exhibition area includes an education area, public service area and a comprehensive business and academic research area. The translucence of the white perforated facade illuminates the structure and reflects the “reform and opening-up” concept that the name of the proposal suggests. Perceived from a distance at night, the building glows like a beacon to embody the city of Shenzhen and its stronghold as an entrepreneurial hub.  

Dotted with greenery and pause points, the spatial organisation follows the language of a “village-like” environment with spaces that seamlessly lead the users inwards. The element of visual contact pervading the inward-looking orientation is articulated by the winding ramps and platforms whose shadows sweep across the atrium.

Shenzhen exhibition complex with transparent facade designed by Sou Fujimoto - Sheet3
Composition of volumes within the structure with a “village-like” interior ©Sou Fujimoto Architects and Donghua Chen Studio

On the other hand, the contextual relation between the dense city centre and the undulating ecological environs of Xiangmihu find a juxtaposition in the building. The ‘garden in a box’ concept reflects the coexisting dichotomy of nature and technology that the city offers. The Reform Hall along with the International Performance Center and Shenzhen Finance Culture Center forms a significant group of public infrastructure along the mountain-sea sight corridor of Xiangmihu.

Shenzhen exhibition complex with transparent facade designed by Sou Fujimoto - Sheet4
The Reform and Opening Up Exhibition Hall flanked by the International Performance Center and Shenzhen Finance Culture Center ©Sou Fujimoto Architects and Donghua Chen Studio

The exhibition hall not only serves as a preamble to the culture and technology of Shenzhen but also as a facility for data collection and research. The overarching purpose of the design was to develop a holistic architectural and landscape design that serves as a window into Shenzhen and its landmark achievements over the decades. Geared for contractual construction as per the terms of the competition, the Reform Hall is bound to deliver a singular experience for locals and visitors alike.

Shenzhen exhibition complex with transparent facade designed by Sou Fujimoto - Sheet5
The layered, perforated façade lends itself to a beautiful play of light and shadows ©Sou Fujimoto Architects and Donghua Chen Studio
Sagarika Latwal
Author

Sagarika Latwal is an architect based in Bangalore exploring creative outlets and entrepreneurship within the industry. An armchair expert in art history, film and - oddly enough- ornithology, she is in constant search of hidden ideas to inform her designs. With her inclination towards architectural journalism, she hopes to make the beautiful complexities of architecture accessible to all.

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