Exhibition centres bring in huge amounts of trade and are seen as key indicators to a successful and thriving local economy. And while many expo centres are plain, uninspiring boxes in which the maximum number of guests can fit, many are architectural inspirations, drawing on local cultural influences and becoming integral parts of the city’s skyline. Here are three iconic exhibition centres from around the world that marry aesthetic architecture with practical functionality.

Frankfurt Trade Fair Grounds

As one of the largest exhibition centres in the world, the Frankfurt Trade Fair grounds cover approximately 367,000 square metres. While slightly smaller than its Hannover counterpart (which encompasses a staggering 496,000 square metres) its sheers size is still enough to require a five minute shuttle ride from its entrance to some of the exhibition halls.

This iconic exhibition centre features a unique design style for each of its composite buildings, with a collection of internationally renowned architects contributing to its unmistakeable look - Helmut Jahn, Oswald M. Ungers, Nicholas Grimshaw, Rainer Hascher and Sebastian Jehle to name a few.

Incorporating Art Nouveau, Bauhaus and Postmodern styles into its architectural ensemble, the Frankfurt Trade Fair grounds are as aesthetically pleasing as they are functional. Originally established back in 1907, the Festhalle’s classical facade adds a unique charm to this modern architectural ensemble.

Hall 3 features an iconic sweeping roof designed by Nicholas Grimshaw & Partners. Image source

The iconic sweeping roofs of Hall 3 were designed by Nicholas Grimshaw & Partners, the same firm that created the famous glass and steel roof of London’s Waterloo Station and the Eden Centre in Cornwall. In form and construction technique, Hall 3 is completely original and radically different from the Nicholas Grimshaw & Partners’ earlier coverings.

The Aachen-based architectural firm Kadawittfeldarchitektur were chosen as winners of an architecture competition held to source designs for an extension of the Frankfurt Trade Fair grounds.

Winning design for the Hall 7 expansion of the Frankfurt Trade Fair grounds. Image source

The winning design from the Hall 7 architecture competition (now to be known as Hall 12 just to be confusing) impressed the jury panel with its expert integration of the various functions that were required of the compact building.

Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre

The Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre was designed and created by Woods Bagot architects and NH Architecture. Set adjacent to the Yarra River in Melbourne, Victoria, the centre connects to the pre-existing Melbourne Exhibition Centre and won a National Award for Public Architecture at the AIA’s 2010 National Architecture Awards.

The Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre builds upon the city’s knowledge of artistically infused, sculptured buildings, with an incredible level of grandeur both inside and out.

The Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre sits alongside the city’s Yarra River, and is the intersection between some of Melbourne’s key areas. Image source

The triangular shape of the Convention Centre relates to its location which is a key focal point in the city, intersecting Melbourne’s Central Business District, Docklands and the Yarra River. Its central feature is the 5000-seat auditorium Plenary Hall. The fan-shaped auditorium was conceived as a “building within a building”, and can be divided into three separate stages when required. The main foyer is vast and opens directly out onto the Yarra River, and the centre’s other spaces were inspired by the different converging aspects of the city of Melbourne: civic spaces were inspired by the maritime precinct, hospitality spaces relate to Melbourne’s sport and culture, and functional spaces are neutral to reflect the Central Business District.

Hong Kong Cultural Centre

Even though the Hong Kong Cultural Centre received mixed reviews when it first opened in 1989, the building has grown to become one of the city’s most-visited landmarks. The centre is a multi-purpose performance facility that regularly hosts dances, exhibitions, operas, concerts and theatre that impact the cultural identity of Hong Kong.

Designed by the Hong Kong Government’s Architectural Services Department, the building has often been described as a “giant ski ramp”. The windowless structure features a single slither of glass, which could be considered as much a statement as the form of this distinctive building.

The Hong Kong Cultural Centre opened to mixed reviews in 1989, when Hong Kong was still governed by Britain. Image source

Designed and constructed before the British handed Hong Kong back over to Chinese rule, the Cultural Centre is often seen as a piece of its colonial history, which can be met with both positive and plenty of negative reactions.

The structure itself houses three major performing halls: the Concert Hall, the Grand Theatre and the Studio Theatre. It also features an exhibition gallery and four foyer exhibition areas, as well as 11 rehearsal/practice rooms and two conference rooms.

The Concert Hall was designed to suit all musical performances, and the 2,019-seat oval-shaped hall is fitted with an adjustable acoustic canopy to ensure top quality acoustics for every performance.

Riga Expo Centre

The Riga Exhibition Centre is one of the largest in the northern region of Eastern Europe and is situated in Kipsala, also known as Kip Island, which is located at the heart of the Latvian capital. The Exhibition Centre currently houses two large exhibition halls, conference rooms and meeting rooms, and has recently announced plans to further expand its facilities.

The Riga Expo Centre is looking for an iconic addition to its already well-established complex, and as such will be considering all winning designs in the Kip Island Auditorium architecture competition. For the additions to their building, the Riga Expo Centre are looking to house an auditorium, additional conference rooms, as well as a new exhibition hall.

The Riga Expo Centre have committed to consider all winning designs for construction, and the winning designs will be exhibited within the Expo Centre itself in the Spring of 2017.

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