Daylight To Stream Through Chinese Mega-Convention Hall

One of the unwritten rules of a convention center is to make it inviting and easy to navigate for attendees on the inside and to de-emphasize the outside world as much as possible. If the conventioneers see how nice the rest of the city looks on a sunny Tuesday afternoon, they may not want to stick around for the afternoon session on accounting software.

This kind of misdirection may be difficult to pull off at the enormous Exhibition Center being planned for Tianjin, China. Rather than wall the patrons off, the architects at gmp Architekten, who won an international design competition for the new hall, have flooded nearly the entire 13 million-square-foot proposal with natural light streaming through ample glazing on the walls and roofs. The plan, they said, was to blur the line between indoors and outdoors by including lots of greenery in the interior while still providing complete protection from the elements when needed.

The winning design for the 13 million-square-foot Tianjin Exhibition Center is based on natural daylight. Image via gmp Architekten.

The winning design for the 13 million-square-foot Tianjin Exhibition Center is based on natural daylight. Image via gmp Architekten.

The most striking features of the hall’s architecture are the glazed roof canopies, held up by pillars topped with inverted pyramid-shaped, louvered supports. The use of daylight and natural ventilation will encourage informal meetings within the building, while also reducing electricity bills and shrinking the facility’s overall carbon footprint, in spite of its vast size.

An aerial view of the massive, highly ordered convention facility. Image via gmp Architekten.

An aerial view of the massive, highly ordered convention facility. Image via gmp Architekten.

Surrounding the Exhibition Center will be a greenbelt of trees, gardens and other open green spaces that will also connect to the adjacent Haihe River. The campus will also include several open-air exhibition spaces, a congress center, hotels, offices, restaurants and administration facilities. The roads leading to and from the convention center also tie in to the historic center of Tainjin and its new Binhai Development Area.

The outdoors will merge as much as possible with the indoors in gmp's design. Image via gmp Architekten.

The outdoors will merge as much as possible with the indoors in gmp’s design. Image via gmp Architekten.

Once completed over the next several years, the Tianjin facility will join similarly vast event structures in Shanghai and Guangzhou as three of the largest international conventional halls in the world. The Tianjin campus will be set up like a symmetrical, square city grid, with all of its exhibition space on the same level. A central pedestrian avenue will lead visitors to eight separate exhibition halls, each of which has room for 134,500 square feet of display space.

Randy Woods is a Seattle-based writer and editor with 20+ years of experience in the business publishing world. A former managing editor of Seattle Business, iSixSigma, Claims and Waste Age magazines, he has covered topics that include newspaper publishing, entrepreneurism, green businesses, insurance, environmental protection and garbage hauling (yes, really). He also contributes to the Career Center Blog for The Seattle Times and edits a photography magazine called PhotoMedia. When not working, he likes to hide out in Seattle movie theaters and attend film festivals—even on sunny days.