Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

This site uses cookies. By using our services, you agree to our cookie use.
Learn more here.

Competition: Caohejing Hi-Tech Park smart signage, Shanghai

An open international contest has been launched for an innovative smart signage scheme for a high-tech business park in Shanghai, China (Deadline: 26 May)

Open to students and professionals, the competition seeks ambitious proposals that blend existing work and shared public spaces within the Caohejing Hi-Tech Park to create a new memorable, unique and landmark location.

Elements within the state-run business district earmarked for the new ‘Halo’ signage scheme include the China Fortune (CF) Business Centre by Itsuko Hasegawa Atelier, CF Exhibition Centre by Scenic Architecture, the CF Properties Horizon by Jacques Ferrier Architecture, and the CF Wisdom Hub and CF Hi-Tech Park by Atelier Deshaus.

Shanghai, China

Shanghai, China

Source: Image by J Patrick Fischer

Shanghai, China

According to the brief: ‘Outstanding signage designs guide users to interact with the site and develop their own narratives, where they are the protagonists, just like a beam of light or a “Halo.”

‘The competition is meant to generate innovative solutions to the integration of working environment and a shared community in a bid to transform the site into an instantly recognizable landmark with a continuous sense of place and unlimited potential.’

The Caohejing Hi-Tech Park in west Shanghai, established in 1990, is a state-run economic and technological development zone focussing on microelectronics, optoelectronics, computer software, computer hardware and new materials for export.

Designed to attract foreign investment, the 600ha park currently features four distinct hubs covering research and development, network operations, financial data and technical innovation organised around a green landscaped core. Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects completed a new business incubator within the district last year. 

Caohejing Hi-Tech Park, Shanghai

Caohejing Hi-Tech Park, Shanghai

Source: Image by Google Earth

Caohejing Hi-Tech Park, Shanghai

The competition is organised by Young Bird and backed by locally based, state-owned commercial developer China Fortune Properties. Launched in 2013, Young Bird has so far organised three competitions, each aimed at young talent within China and offering mentoring and guidance from established architects.

Teams may feature up to three members and the competition languages are English. Up to 30 shortlisted designs will be exhibited and published online and three winners will receive prizes.

The jury includes Michel Hoessler of Agence TER, Sou Fujimoto of Sou Fujimoto Architects, China Fortune president Cao Yu and Guan Yetong, head of Shanghai Xuhui District Construction and Transportation Commission.

The overall winner, set to be announced on 6 July, will receive 100,000 CNY and see their scheme constructed. A second place and third place prize of 20,000 CNY will also be awarded along with a ‘smart elements’ prize worth the same amount.

How to apply

Deadline

The deadline for submissions is 26 May

Contact details

YOUNG BIRD CO.LTD
200082
Room 301-304
Building No.5
NO.627 Jiangpu Road
Yangpu District
Shanghai

Email: competition@youngbird.com.cn
Tel: +86 021 6258 5617

View the competition website for more information

Sunset Boulevard billboard case study: Q&A with Tom Wiscombe

The founder of Tom Wiscombe Architecture discusses lessons learned designing a competition-winning smart billboard for Hollywood, Los Angeles

Tom Wiscombe

Tom Wiscombe

Tom Wiscombe

How will your competition-winning Sunset Boulevard billboard deliver a unique smart signage solution for its location?

First of all, the key for us was to avoid thinking of it as a sign. We decided to instead think of it as a civic space. We looked at Belltowers, obelisks, and clock towers from history, in terms of their ability to signal civilization and community and not just advertising. The project’s location on the Sunset strip is very visible and will be seen by 60,000 cars per day, however, it is also an crucial node along the strip in terms of the pedestrian experience. The Belltower has a deep interior space programmed with interactive media which makes the pedestrian experience work. It will also have infrastructure built in to allow it to operate as a stage, so that it can become a pop-up venue for music and other performances.

West Hollywood Belltower by Tom Wiscombe Architecture

West Hollywood Belltower by Tom Wiscombe Architecture

West Hollywood Belltower by Tom Wiscombe Architecture

One of the most important parts of the project is its content– as they say, content in king. The Belltower will, of course, have commercial content on it’s primary outer faces, however, it will also be programmed, with our partner the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles (MOCA), with multimedia art. Not just animated graphic effects as we see so often these days in airports and so on, but work from the most relevant artists of our time, curated by a major institution. Artists will be able to take over the whole structure sometimes. Other times, the Belltower will feature local community programming, relaying upcoming events and initiatives in West Hollywood.

One of the modes of operation on the interior will be ‘trending face mashups’, where cultural and political social media imagery is pushed onto architectural surfaces by algorithms. I think this could be both subversive and beautiful. Ultimately, the goal is that the Belltower doesn’t complacently mirror everyday reality and late capital, but engages the world on many levels simultaneously. It should become a living political entity.

Which architectural, material and other methods did you harness in your design?

The project is a fusion of architecture and media. It is crucial for us that one is not subjugated by the other, but rather that they are fully integrated. We want to produce a sense of magic where you can’t tell exactly how certain effects are produced. We are employing a combination of embedded low-profile LED panels, laser projectors, and effect lighting with networked controllers to create effects that would not be possible with a singular media technology.

We are also fully leveraging the architecture, which has a very distinct presence on its exterior and an entirely different one on its interior. The variety of architectural spaces allows for more variety in terms of media effects. The structure itself is about 75 feet high and clad in perforated aluminum. It is all aluminum actually, and it will be built with a stressed semi-monocoque skin like the wing of an aircraft to maximize lightness and thinness of the structure.

West Hollywood Belltower by Tom Wiscombe Architecture

West Hollywood Belltower by Tom Wiscombe Architecture

West Hollywood Belltower by Tom Wiscombe Architecture

What advice would you have to contest participants on designing new smart signage for Caohejing Hi-Tech Park in China?

Avoid making signage that relentlessly tries to say something or sell us something. Of course it must do that to some extent– that is its raison d’ etre– but signage must evolve to remain relevant. I’m never sure what people mean when they say ‘smart’, like ‘smart signage’ in this case; I’d argue for experience over sign. I think that would be smart. We live in a world where the most potent signs are on our smartphones, and big unresponsive signs in the physical world just don’t have the same impact they might have had in the past. Now, I think signage needs to do more. It needs to capture our imagination and most importantly engage civic space and people in new ways. I’m dreaming of a new species of urban objects, where social media, architecture, and technology come together in unexpected, mysterious ways.

West Hollywood Belltower by Tom Wiscombe Architecture

West Hollywood Belltower by Tom Wiscombe Architecture

West Hollywood Belltower by Tom Wiscombe Architecture