WSP Architects, a firm established in Munich, Germany in 1996. Over the years, establishing offices in Munich, Beijing and Hangzhou, it has become one of the leading design institutions in the world. The four principal designers and landscape designers of WSP, Mr Wu Gang, Ms Zhang Ying, Mr Chen Ling and Mr Knud Rossen, boast their international designing practices and European educational background and bring a multicultural and diverse thought process thus keeping their designs innovative through multidisciplinary collaboration. WSP architects hold rich management experience for large-scale projects. One such project is the Optics Valley Convention and Exhibition Centre, located in Wuhan, China. 

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Optic Valley Convention Centre_Feng Shao

Optics Valley Convention & Exhibition Center | WSP Architects 

This Convention Centre is located in the central area of the Optics Valley New Cit, on High Tech Avenue and is responsible for holding the annual China International Optoelectronic Exposition (CIOE). The valley acted as a hub for the industry it was named after. It is located between the central business district full of high-rise office buildings and a quieter area with lower buildings towards the Jiufeng Mountain, WSP Architects strategically planned more public programmes such as the exhibitions and office areas in the busier part of the complex, while residential services are facing the mountain. It was completed in 2017, five years after its construction commenced.  

Site Area: 54,362 sqm
Gross Floor Area: 96,513 sqm

Under the condition of limited land occupation, the Convention and Exhibition Center is designed as a three-storey building, the first and second floors are occupied by modular exhibition halls, while the third floor is used for conferences.

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Site Plan_WSP Architects
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First Floor Plan_WSP Architects

There are a total of 6 exhibition halls to accommodate 1,200 standard stands which can be combined or separated to accommodate different exhibitions. 

The entrance lobby is located on the west side, and a set of escalators directly moves the conference attendees directly to their floor. Apart from this the centre also hosts an affiliated hotel to house the attendees and guests. Two blocks – the convention and exhibition centre and the Global Public Procurement Transaction Service Centre – are connected by a terrace on the top floor, integrating the entire complex, but using vertical transportation innovations to integrate public transport routes through the centre

The two exhibition halls are connected by the central reception hall, over 250 meters long. It was placed such that natural daylight could be utilized to its full potential while connecting public transport routes and the 37 meters high three-storey convention centre. 

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The Light Cube at Night_Feng Shao

Light as the Defining Element 

This landmark was built as a venue for the optics industry, thus the WSP design team chose to play with light and shadows within the structure. 

The registration hall has a high-transparency glass curtain wall, beyond which the facade of the structure can be seen. 

The facade is a white external mesh frame that provides passive sun shading throughout the day. 

The white metal cladding not only enhances the sculpture-like qualities by casting vibrant shadows during daytime but also blocks excessive sunlight from penetrating the complex and prevents it from getting too hot. 

The mesh is set at such an angle that it casts a shadow onto itself as well as the interior transitory spaces during the daytime. Although as the sun sets, this white box becomes a glittering visual attraction for the optics valley as each sun shading frame is integrated with LED lights. 

The building transforms into a translucent “Light Cube.” 

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Symmetrical Facade Pattern_Feng Shao

Facade Design | WSP Architects 

This system was derived from the traditional Chinese craft of ivory carvings, which highlights the contrast between illusion and reality, and light and shadow. Choosing to go with a unique angular geometric truss not only connects the complex to Chinese culture but also serves a practical purpose by reducing air-conditioning energy consumption by 30%. It is a stand-out facade that hides how the structure is divided from the inside, giving the illusion of it being just one big giant cube with carvings on it. 

The facade is one of the reasons why this structure is deemed a landmark in the optics valley.  

The architects describe “The design intention of the light cube is to give light form and integrate light and space. However, the intangible, colourless and formless light is just as ethereal as space, so how could a building be integrated with light? The design has built relations between building and light through utilization, optimization and celebration of light.”

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Internal View of Curtain Wall and Facade_Feng Shao
Three Storey Escalators_Feng Shao

The Optics Valley Convention and Exhibition Centre also stands apart in the innovative vertical circulation planning to ensure smooth functioning of the logistics such as loading/unloading floor and maximizing adaptability. Adopting the latest sustainability solutions is leading the path to the future of building systems. Combining functionality with technology and innovative design WSP Architects have crafted a well-balanced icon for the city of Wuhan that reflects the design intention of utilising light to enhance each aspect of the structure throughout the day.  A light cube that combines technology and culture.