The architecture of exhibits nowadays is an allegory of modern splendour and a vision to appeal to the contemporary ideals of the city’s inhabitants while being an aspiring tourist hotspot. To gain recognition amidst a wider audience while symbolising a metropolis’s cultural affinity, generally, the convention and exhibition centres are one of the most-visited landmarks. They are remarkably designed to mediate an influx of robust trade expositions on national and international platforms. The expedited tech boom over the past decade in Central China’s Hubei Province, for instance, ushered rapid urban development with budding technologically advanced industries forming the East Lake High-Tech Development Zone—or the Optics Valley—in the populous capital city of Wuhan. This innovation-driven occurrence became the ideal location necessitating the development of the China Optics Valley Convention and Exhibition Center hosting the annual China International Optoelectronic Exposition (CIOE) in Wuhan, commending its context, and built by one of the leading design institutes: the internationally renowned WSP Architects in 2017.
On Planning and Programme
Sited adjoining High-Tech Avenue and clustered within a span of 54,362 square meters consisting of a project area, public service centre, and technology museum, the China Optics Valley Convention and Exhibition Center stands glorified with the bustling skyline of commercial high-rises to the South as opposed to the smaller public buildings blended modestly with the serene landscape of the Jiufeng Mountain Forest Reserve to its North. WSP Architects designed the Center as a three-story building due to restrictions on land occupation with approximately 96,513 square meters of floor area and functionally embodying a convention and exhibition centre, conference centre, banquet hall, media reception centre, registration hall, and other spaces.
On Layout and Circulation
The programmatic apportionment subjected to the 37-meter-high building’s verticality has the first two stories modularly developed for vibrant exhibition areas with six large halls that can also be used as one whole space, carrying a capacity of 1200 booths, while the topmost floor is—functionally—comparatively formal for conferences and conventions with the terrace’s connection to the Global Public Procurement Transaction Service Centre, integrating the two buildings deftly. Towards the West of the Center is the grand and naturally-lit 250-meter-long reception hall connecting the two exhibition floors and welcoming visitors from Songtao Road. Access to ample vertical circulation using highly-efficient logistics of vertical transportation, escalators, and elevators strategically positioned by this reception hall facilitates spatial flexibility and rapid transition of visitors throughout the Center.
On Facade and Energy
WSP Architects proficiently utilised the context of optics to govern the design philosophy based on the poetics and innovations with light. Inspired by the intricately carved traditional Chinese handicrafts of ivory, the building’s facade is designed with a unique geometric metal truss that—like the Chinese ivory sphere—conceals and reveals the artistry beneath, with a play of illusions and reality, or that of light and shadow. The white geometric mesh applied as a tool of passive sun-shading to the South and West of the registration hall prevents the interior spaces from receiving excessive heat while donning a vibrant sculpture-like appearance in the daylight. Optimising space and light to the maximum, this tactical facade with a white sun-shading truss screening the high-transparency glazed curtain wall supported with suspension cables behind minimises 30% energy consumption of air-conditioning, increases the building’s environmental performance, protects it from over-heating, provides substantial daylighting, and wholly creates a natural interconnection between the exterior and the interior of the building.
On Light and Geometry
WSP Architects’ staged sublime performance of daylight and geometry forms vivid and dynamic patterns of light and shadow inside, especially for the audience in the grand reception hall acting as the circulation node of the Center. Utilisation, optimisation, and celebration of light provide a newfound tangibility to light and aggrandise the China Optics Valley Convention and Exhibition Center’s architecture and its spatial dimension, both during the day and night. The sun-shading mesh frames integrated with LED light strips on the joints broadcast a majestic light show in the dark, with its intensity gradually blurring through the night. The light-cube style structure’s inner layer of the glass curtain wall illuminates through the mesh due to the interior light beams, once again revealing the artistry beneath while creating a completely different juxtaposition of light’s texture and appearance from that of the day.
The China Optics Valley Convention and Exhibition Center by WSP Architects is a prodigy of contemporary design and aesthetics reflecting the explicit convergence of engineered craftsmanship with modern architecture. The projection of technology in the architecture of this Center seeks to develop a unique identity and cultural character in response to its context, aiming to make the components of space, volume, and form more tactile through artistic—innovations in material, texture, and light. The landmark, thus combining technology and culture, modestly compliments the urban skyline and successfully augments the design’s sustainability and environmental impact.
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- China Optics Convention & Exhibition Center (2018) PRC Magazine. Available at: https://www.prc-magazine.com/china-optics-convention-exhibition-center/
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- Bürklein, C. (2018) WSP Architects China Optics Valley Convention and Exhibition Center: Livegreenblog, Floornature.com. Available at: https://www.floornature.com/blog/wsp-architects-china-optics-valley-convention-and-exhibition-13975/ (Accessed: April 23, 2023).
- China Optics Valley Convention and Exhibition Center / WSP ARCHITECTS [中国光谷科技会展中心 / 维思平建筑设计] (2018) ArchDaily. Available at: <https://www.archdaily.com/888495/china-optics-valley-convention-and-exhibition-center-wsp-architects> ISSN 0719-8884