(Not So) Heavy Metal

Vanke Co., Emerald Avenue Exhibition Hall

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Tianjin, China | 35,500 sf

The marquee building for a new urban development in Tianjin, China uses a simple material to express classical roots in a contemporary way.
Front Right view of Emerald City Exhibition Hall. A contemporary twist on the historic European arcade.

The Emerald Avenue Exhibition Hall conveys—in a single building—the aesthetic of a new urban development in Tianjin, China’s popular tourist destination whose buildings boast British and European influences. The building’s columns and arches—reminiscent of those found in western historic arcades—are given a modern twist through a system of hanging aluminum panels.

Path between rows of arches and columns. Up close, individual aluminum panels almost seem to disappear, creating a sense of lightness.
Focus on the fountain and statue in front of the exhibition hall. From a distance, those same slats look more solid. How you experience the building changes depending on where you are.

The panels are spaced close together at the top of each column and further apart at the bottom to convey a sense of solidity when viewed from a distance.

The panels are spaced close together at the top of each column and further apart at the bottom to convey a sense of solidity when viewed from a distance. As you approach the hall, that visual density unexpectedly gives way to lightness as the panels seem to disappear.

Front view of the left side of the Exhibition Hall depicting the columns and arches. From a distance, the panels create a sense of solidity.

A mere 5mm thick, each numbered panel (over 1200 in all) was hung using a beam and cable system that keeps them fixed in place yet allows individual panels to be removed for cleaning or repair.  Curved edges create a sense of volume and amplify their reflective surface.

Detail of the arching facade. Detail of the arching facade.