Text description provided by the architects. Jia Little Exhibition Center integrates the display and production spaces of creative industries into a single mixed-use building complex, consisting of an exhibition hall and three work-live atelier buildings. The primary spatial strategy is to create a seamless relationship between spaces of production and consumption, so that visitors and consumers are reconnected with the knowledge and appreciation of the processes of making and production.
CRITIQUE OF PRODUCTION & CONSUMPTION
We live in an age where we are no longer acquainted with the origins and production of the goods we consume, often unwittingly exposing ourselves to materials that may be hazardous to our health, or goods that are produced under unfair or exploitative production practices. In pursuing this project, while the primary goal is to establish elegant and practical exhibition spaces, we feel there is a responsibility to bring visitors to the more gritty production houses behind-the-scene. In fact, one may argue this is exactly what an educated consumer seeks today – to learn about the responsible practices of the manufacturers, the ethics of the designers, the social and environmental responsibility towards the acquisition of the raw materials, the tools of the manufacturing process, and so on.
CIRCULATION AS FACADE
The exhibition hall is in essence a horizontal core that is made visible on the exterior through a formally expressive wood cladding and steel framing system. This continuous core circulates visitors through the 4 buildings on an elevated level, enveloping otherwise separate display spaces within the exhibition hall. As visitors weave through the complex across the bridges into different production studios and fabrication plants, they are re-oriented at different levels of communicating lobbies and stairs. In other words, the production programs are being held together in the center by the exhibition hall, allowing visitors to reach other spaces without getting off the circuit of exhibition. The core is stretched and circulation is prolonged through a retail strategy of linear persuasion, weaving visitors through a multitude of spatial experiences – from artificially lit exhibition interiors to exterior ramped bridges, from sleek exhibitions to design studios and untidy fabrication plants. The experience of the exhibition is re-thought through this project, with the hope that a visitor’s experience can be enhanced and authenticated by the connectivity between production and consumption
INDUSTRIAL & SOCIO-ECONOMIC CONTEXT IN CHINA
The site of this project was originally zoned as an industrial site. The industrial landscape tends to be nothing more than large sheds built at a minimum cost. The design agenda for this project was to generate a more responsible approach towards this very system of production and consumption, rather than to create any visual link to its surroundings. Exhibition programs go hand in hand with manufacturing and industrial programs in China, hence the notion of an integration to the surroundings has to be seen from its contribution towards the production and consumption cycle itself. The ambition here is to generate a more open and public access to the processes of manufacturing, and in so doing, empower a community of production workers who are aware that there is a counterpart to their work – a community of educated consumers who seek to know what goes into the designs and goods that are being produced. This form of integration was designed to link up socio-economic and environmental relationships with that of architecture and its site.
SUSTAINABILITY THROUGH CONTINUOUS FAÇADE
The main contribution of this project towards green building practices can be seen in the shading louver details of the timber curtain wall of the exhibition hall, as well as the minimum fenestration design of the atelier buildings. Using limited permutations of the timber louver depth and angles, as many as 12 types were developed to suit different sun angles and orientation. The form and orientation of the exhibition hall was determined by a need to create smaller zones for social interaction and circulation between the atelier buildings, as well as the micro-urbanism of the site. While the criteria for the multi-sided exhibition hall was challenging, it also gave special design character to the building. The directionality of the timber curtain wall system of the exhibition hall was not only designed as a continuous surface to promote the legibility of the building as a horizontal core system, it also gave unique possibilities for the control of views and sun-shading. The vertical window system used in the 3 atelier buildings was designed to provide sufficient daylighting, while keeping with a generally tight thermal envelope, with minimum fenestration.