OPEN Architecture: a prototype of the HEX-SYS system in Guangzhou, China

OPEN Architecture,

Chao Zhang,

Guangzhou, China,

Exhibition Center,

Interior Design,

Continuing their research into optimisation of design work, the Chinese studio Open Architecture has created a prototype of the HEX-SYS system for an exhibition centre in Guangzhou, China. Open Architecture’s HEX-SYS is a flexible construction system which is easy to dismantle and rebuild.

OPEN Architecture: a prototype of the HEX-SYS system in Guangzhou, China
In Guangzhou, China, a prototype of a construction system featuring flexible use, quick and easy assembly and energy sustainability has been created. Called HEX-SYS, it has been developed and patented by Open Architecture, the Chinese studio that designed the famous Gehua Youth and Cultural Centre in Beidaihe, much appreciated for application of the concept of flexible environment to an educational facility.
The HEX-SYS system is based on an aluminium structural module available in three versions, covered with outdoor cladding panels, with an uninterrupted glass wall, or entirely open. The modules are hexagonal in shape and are covered with aluminium with a standard surface area of 40 sqm, and can be combined in various ways with easily reversible mechanical connections. By avoiding processes such as gluing and welding, the project aims to achieve flexibility of use with standardised parts that can be used again when dismantled. The choice of structural aluminium and bamboo, a quickly growing, long-lasting plant, for the false ceilings and flooring, is consistent with the goal of energy sustainability. 
Open Architecture had already demonstrated its awareness of the importance of sustainability in 2013, when the studio designed a prototype of a temporary sales pavilion of the kind found on every construction site, where property sales are negotiated. At the time the idea was to permit reuse of the effort that goes into creation and production of a temporary building of this type, standardising its structure and speeding up its construction for use in a variety of different programmes, making it possible to reassemble the structure in a new setting. 
As the architects emphasise, their reflection was inspired by observation of phenomena affecting the Chinese construction industry today, such as the uncontrolled sprouting of buildings designed for short-term use and subsequent dismantling, with no long-term planning. Open Architecture attempts to go beyond this uncontrolled consumption of land and resources with proposals that extend the buildings’ useful lifespan and make the most of the energy that goes into design work and production.
Inspired by China’s traditional timber constructions and Le Corbusier’s pavilion on Lake Zurich, the HEX-SYS system is used in construction of Guangzhou exhibition centre, owned by Vanke, the same client as the temporary sales pavilion. Le Corbusier’s use of aluminium and glass as structural materials, use of modularity to create a creative rhythm and V-shaped or, as the architects call it, upside-down umbrella roof may be recognised in the project. In Open Architecture’s system, every module has a hexagonal aluminium roof supported by a thin pole in the middle; on the side facing the road are a number of modules with infill side surfaces, while on the side facing the green inner courtyard there are glass panels with a sunscreen capacity of 0.4 or less. Extending the floor plan, with the same modular structures with no infill, is an arcade extending out toward the artificial embankment that serves as an open-air auditorium.
The module’s great flexibility is complemented by two interesting details for sustainability: the upside-down umbrella shape conveys rainwater into an irrigation tank. The triangular roof panels which can be opened and the central patio created by flattening a hexagonal module convey air into the building for natural climate control.

Mara Corradi

Architects: OPEN Architecture
Principals in Charge: Li Hu, Huang Wenjing
Project Team: Zhao Yao, Andrea Antonucci, Laurence Chan, Hu Boji,
Thomas Batzenschlager, Zhang Chang
Local Design Institute: CABR Technology Co., Ltd
Landscape Design: Guangzhou Shangwo Landscape Design Co., Ltd
Location: Guangzhou, China
Design Year: 2014 – 2015 
Completion: 2015
Client: Vanke Guangzhou
Program: Reception, Exhibition, Lounge, Multi-media Room, Café, Office
Building Area: 640 sqm
Site Area: 5680 sqm
Structure and exterior cladding in aluminium
floors and indoor cladding in bamboo
Photography: © Zhang Chao

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video by Spirit of Space