“Moving elements in a city, and in particular the people and their activities, are as important as the stationary physical parts. We are not simply observers of this spectacle, but are ourselves a part of it, on the stage with the other participants.” 
The ongoing events and visitors that inhabit this urban oasis, together with the designed spatial elements, bring a transformative and invigorating life to a neighborhood in the making. As Shanghai expands, the Hongqiao District has become its new vibrant neighborhood because of the concentration of Hongqiao Railway and Subway Station, Hongqiao Airport, the new Convention Center and the CBD. The developer Shui On Land, the mastermind behind the Xintiandi development introduced the HUB mixed-use development in the heart of this new district. The highlight of this complex is the Performance and Exhibition Center that is envisioned as the “hot spot” of culture and arts of the new neighborhood.
The interior concept draws inspiration from the landscape to create a nature-like environment that provides retreat from the heavily built context and visual overload of contemporary culture.
The performance center’s interior is conceived as a five-story urban oasis in the form of a solid rock set inside the exterior envelope; spaces are carved out and programmatic elements are inserted.
Visitors arriving from the subway station find themselves walking into an underground space, with the ceiling covered in metal tubes mimicking the roots of the forest above. A dramatic escalator tunnel with deep ceiling coves leads to the primary exhibition hall.
A floating canopy of wood sticks hovering over the three-story atrium transforms the space into a forest. Gallery openings are wrapped in interlocking solid sandstone and light walnut balustrades. The visitors experience is constantly alternating as one meanders along the cavernous galleries and bridges.
Hidden at the upper levels is the treasure box—a 750-seat performance hall with floating screens - associating with the bamboo slips from ancient China to “record” the stories inside.
One can discover other delightful spaces carved into the sandstone: golden toilet cubicles; a cigar room; a salon and bars in form of wooden houses that are inserted into the rock; halls of mirrors in black-glazed tiles with green toilet rooms; bronze elevator cabs; private VIP rooms dressed in hand-painted tiles that narrate the story of Hongqiao District’s humble past; and a golden trellis inside the VIP Lounge dotted with intricately crafted pendant lights.
 Kevin Lynch, The Image of the City (MIT Press, Cambridge, MA: 1960) p. 02.
Location: Shanghai, China
Square Footage: 15,700 sq m
Completion Date: October 2015
Neri&Hu Design and Research Offices’ The HUB Performance and Exhibition Center has received a 2017 AZ Award in the category Institutional Interiors.
About Neri&Hu Design and Research Office
Lyndon Neri is a Founding Partner of Neri&Hu Design and Research Office, an interdisciplinary international architectural design practice based in Shanghai, China with an additional office in London.
Mr. Neri and partner Ms. Rossana Hu are named EDIDA Designers of the Year 2017, Maison&Objet Asia Designers of the Year 2015 and Wallpaper* Designers of the Year 2014. They were the winner of 2014 World Architectural Festival. In 2013, Mr. Neri was inducted into U.S. Interior Design Hall of Fame with partner Ms. Rossana Hu. The practice was selected as the 2011 INSIDE Festival Overall Winner, won AR Awards for Emerging Architecture 2010 by Architectural Review (UK) and one of the Design Vanguards in 2009 by Architectural Record (US).
In 2006, Mr. Neri was selected by I.D. Magazine as one of the 40 designers globally who deserve more attention in the “I.D. 40”.
Mr. Neri received a Master of Architecture at Harvard University and a Bachelor of arts in Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley. Prior to starting his own practice with partner Ms. Rossana Hu, Mr. Neri was the Director for Projects in Asia and an Associate for Michael Graves & Associates in Princeton for over 10 years, and also worked in New York City for various architectural firms.