Nan’an City Exhibition Center & Riverfront Master Plan
Nan’an City, Fujian Province, China
Nan'an City Exhibition Center &
Riverfront Master Plan
Nan’an City, Fujian Province, China

The center of three Wu Kingdoms, Nan’an history dates back 1,700 years. Nan’an is fast developing into an economic and industrial hub with its close proximity to several of China’s major economic centers including Xiamen, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen. Nan’an’s strong rail infrastructure and road links make it an ideal gateway for tourism and commerce alike.

A mix of commercial and residential uses at the core of this project combine to create a community with special character at a picturesque bend in the river, with the convention and exhibition center, shops, hotel, restaurants and cafes offering a lively people-oriented experience, balanced by the privacy of residential sites and beauty of the parklands. The distinct character and location of the open spaces and riverfront location provides a contrast with the dynamic and ever-changing commercial use of the exhibition complex, giving this project its own unique sense of place. The exhibition building itself is prominently located along a major regional highway on a site at the foot of a row of steep wooded hills.

The Vision

The ancient Chinese practice of Feng Shui, which historically has been used to orient buildings in harmony with people and their surroundings, strongly influenced the site layout and design of the exhibition center building.  According to Feng Shui findings of this particular site, the site is considered to have fortuitous attributes: to the west, the position of the White Tiger is situated on a gentle topography across the river, while the Dragon is positioned to the east. The especially favorable Jade Belt is expressed by the curve of the river as it flows around the site.

The design vision integrates Feng Shui attributes, unique topography, and the intense program of exhibition use to create unexpectedly grand urban gestures as a focus for this new town development. 

The Design

The favorable Feng Shui position of the Dragon informed the location and shapes of the commercial side of the development, expressed in the dynamic nature of the creature itself.  Situated along the western river bank, the convention center roof shapes shift vertically and horizontally, as if in motion, inspired by the wings of a great bird gliding on the wind to embrace the activities of the community within.  Three sculptural forms unite to form the roof, rising up to celebrate the collaboration and community gathering within. The roof shapes and the exterior design of the convention center forms influence the commercial buildings on the north side of the village plaza, almost as if the plaza street was carved from the same smooth shapes.

The convention center is designed to cloak all service and delivery aspects below ground and showcase the public activities from all points of view above grade.  A two-level vast multi-use plaza on the highway side serves as an outdoor exhibition space, bus marshaling area, and ceremonial drop off.  Beyond rises the glass façade of the convention building with its interior functions in full view of the highway.  The sloping hillside provides a unique opportunity to create a grand plaza spanning the four lane through street and the immense truck loading component of the exhibition hall service area.  The public plaza and pedestrian walk connect the shops and cafés to the main entry of the convention center, creating a vibrant, lively streetscape where the tone is set by the soaring forms of the convention center and the activity within.  Roof forms span the pedestrian plaza in a grand gesture from the convention center across to the hillside commercial buildings, creating partial shelter for the interconnecting plaza.

The intent is to create a community-oriented, pedestrian-friendly street on a magnificent scale expressed strikingly with cantilevered floors and roofs in a modern interpretation of traditional high-activity city streets found in China.