Global Design | The Performance and Exhibition Centre at the HUB, Shanghai by Neri & Hu

The Performance and Exhibition Centre at the HUB, Shanghai offers a nature-like environment that provides retreat from the heavily built context and visual overload of contemporary culture.

Image Credit: Dirk Weiblen via Neri & Hu Design and Research Office

The ongoing events and visitors that inhabit the urban oasis of Shanghai, 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 Centre 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 Centre that is envisioned as the “hot spot” of culture and arts of the new neighborhood.

Designed by Neri & Hu Design and Research Office, an interdisciplinary international architectural design practice based in Shanghai, China, the interior concept of the Performance and Exhibition Centre 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.

Private VIP rooms dressed in hand-painted tiles that narrate the story of Hongqiao District’s humble past. Image Credit: Dirk Weiblen via Neri & Hu Design and Research Office

“The performance centre’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,” say the architects.

Image Credit: Dirk Weiblen via Neri & Hu Design and Research Office


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.

Image Credit: Dirk Weiblen via Neri & Hu Design and Research Office


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,” the architects remark.

Image Credit: Dirk Weiblen via Neri & Hu Design and Research Office

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.

Image Credit: Dirk Weiblen via Neri & Hu Design and Research Office

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.

Halls of mirrors in black-glazed tiles with green toilet rooms. Image Credit: Dirk Weiblen via Neri & Hu Design and Research Office


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