SOM's new multi-function centre with a solar roof
The Zhongshan International Exhibition Center uses sustainable solutions to minimise the environmental impact of development on China’s Pearl River Delta while attracting jobs and tourism to the area.
The building complex incorporates a series of enclosed pavilions with open courtyards under one undulating solar roof. Designed as a social and economic nucleus for a burgeoning industrial city of 1.3 million, the complex includes a number of amenities; meeting spaces, lobbies, flexible dining areas, administrative support spaces, VIP suites, a central plant and a grand plaza that accommodates civic events.
The pavilions are nearly interchangeable, allowing the various spaces to be leased in a broad range of configurations that anticipate the convention center’s changing needs. Additionally, these features enable the center to compete with other nearby facilities, including those in Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and even Hong Kong and Macao.
Designed to house 800 solar collectors, the crystalline roof acts as a power field, cultivating sunlight and converting it into the primary power for the center’s lighting systems. Supported by highly efficient and lightweight trusses, the roof system also contains louvered openings for natural ventilation.
Sustainable solutions contribute to both the center’s energy-efficiency and its visually compelling form. The solar roof’s faceted surface blankets the plaza below with dappled light and shadows, while the interior courtyards allow natural light to circulate throughout the space. Inspired by Zhongshan’s famous green hills, the sculptural roof also evokes the iridescent scales of ancient Chinese armour.