Foshan Topway Design depicts cycles of life in headquarters of VERO Tiles in China

VERO Ecological Tiles Exhibition Hall & Headquarters in Foshan employs an immersive three-storey spatial narrative to illustrate the miraculous beauty of natural life processes.

by Jerry ElengicalPublished on : Oct 26, 2021

Illustrating a plethora of essential life processes that unite all organisms on the face of the planet, the VERO Ecological Tiles Exhibition Hall and Headquarters by Foshan Topway Design presents a spatial narrative that reflects VERO’s commitment to developing building materials and products that enhance user well-being and radiate a respect for all forms of life. Located in Foshan, within China’s Guangdong Province, the project utilises aspects of biophilic design, a naturalistic palette, and the company’s own range of products in a three-storey spatial form that portrays a cycle of consumption, reproduction, and growth.

  • The exhibition space showcases a three-storey spatial narrative depicting life processes, with a spiral staircase at its heart | VERO Ecological Tiles Exhibition Hall & Headquarters by Foshan Topway Design | STIRworld
    The exhibition space showcases a three-storey spatial narrative depicting life processes, with a spiral staircase at its heart Image: Ouyang Yun
  • Slender battens and pillars swoop down from the space’s ceiling to recreate the spreading canopy and trunk of a banyan tree | VERO Ecological Tiles Exhibition Hall & Headquarters by Foshan Topway Design | STIRworld
    Slender battens and pillars swoop down from the space’s ceiling to recreate the spreading canopy and trunk of a banyan tree Image: Ouyang Yun

At the heart of the retail design, within the entrance lobby is a stylised spiral staircase that runs throughout the space’s three floors - rising from a conceptual water body at its base level. Slender battens plunge down towards it from the ceiling, grouped to resemble the spreading canopy of a banyan tree. The set of pillars at the centre of this arrangement serve as the trunk, and are submerged directly into the pool to illustrate the mechanism by which autotrophic organisms extract water and nutrients from soil or other growing mediums. Depicting the first stage of the spatial narrative titled ‘Draw’, these pillars develop into root-shaped sculptures that emerge from the water and unfurl out towards the floor area beyond the pool.

Sculptural root-like elements emerge from the water body at the focal point of the lobby | VERO Ecological Tiles Exhibition Hall & Headquarters by Foshan Topway Design | STIRworld
Sculptural root-like elements emerge from the water body at the focal point of the lobby Image: Ouyang Yun

Walls dressed in bands of cool grey terrazzo impart a soothing, meditative atmosphere reminiscent of a secluded cave while a ribbon-like element made of Xuan paper winds around suspended planters that bear a semblance to levitating mountains. Generating an effect that evokes floating clouds, the ribbon also symbolises spreading and drifting thoughts that embody the designers’ poetic conception of the space. Woody textures, stone-hewn elements, and moss-covered surfaces complement these features and add to the distinctively earthy feel of the interior design. Mirrored walls and translucent screens expand the space and imbue an air of mystery, to arouse a visitor’s curiosity. Together, this ensemble crafts an immersive experience laden with visual associations to the natural world, to elicit strong emotional responses from visitors and foster a feeling of responsibility towards the environment.

  • A ribbon-like element in Xuan paper winds around suspended planters shaped like mountains | VERO Ecological Tiles Exhibition Hall & Headquarters by Foshan Topway Design | STIRworld
    A ribbon-like element in Xuan paper winds around suspended planters shaped like mountains Image: Ouyang Yun
  • Mirrored surfaces expand the space and create illusions to arouse a visitor’s curiosity | VERO Ecological Tiles Exhibition Hall & Headquarters by Foshan Topway Design | STIRworld
    Mirrored surfaces expand the space and create illusions to arouse a visitor’s curiosity Image: Ouyang Yun

The staircase’s winding form draws a viewer’s eye upwards through the forest of stalactite-like battens towards the upper floor. Featuring micro-cement handrails and curving lighting design strips along the lower edge of its stringer, the stair’s curved form is a counterpoint to the rectilinear arrangement of spaces as well as the patterns seen in enclosing wall finishes. The second phase dubbed ‘Breed’ finds its place on the succeeding level, in a space that channels a myriad of different textures to create a distinctive aesthetic. Leaning upon an old Chinese proverb which states that "the rotted grass turns into a cocoon, and the cocoon is born into a firefly", the design interprets a cocoon as the origin of life, and incorporates this state of metamorphosis into the space through a cocoon-shaped art installation that greets visitors at the staircase’s upper landing.

  • The spiral staircase at the core of the exhibition space | VERO Ecological Tiles Exhibition Hall & Headquarters by Foshan Topway Design | STIRworld
    The spiral staircase at the core of the exhibition space Image: Ouyang Yun
  • The second level features a theme titled ‘Breed’ with a cocoon-shaped art installation serving as its highlight | VERO Ecological Tiles Exhibition Hall & Headquarters by Foshan Topway Design | STIRworld
    The second level features a theme titled ‘Breed’ with a cocoon-shaped art installation serving as its highlight Image: Ouyang Yun
  • A bar and reception area occupy much of the second floor | VERO Ecological Tiles Exhibition Hall & Headquarters by Foshan Topway Design | STIRworld
    A bar and reception area occupy much of the second floor Image: Ouyang Yun

From here, visitors are led to a bar and reception area settled beneath a ceiling composed of an intersecting frame system of beams made from wood and metal mesh, interspersed with hanging plants. Stalactite-like projections, similar to the ones seen on the level below, house lighting fixtures and interject the overhead grid. Translucent white screens enclosing the interior absorb the silhouettes of leaves and trees outside the space, generating patterns across their surfaces. A textured bar counter occupies one end of the space, surrounded by leisurely lounges, and wood-finished steps around a lecture theatre that offers cosy spots for visitors to relax, enjoy a cup of coffee, and absorb the scenery around them. The second floor also hosts a product display area and a vertical forest space - both featuring the suspended battens and pillars from the lobby.

  • Intersecting beams in wood and metal mesh define the space’s ceiling | VERO Ecological Tiles Exhibition Hall & Headquarters by Foshan Topway Design | STIRworld
    Intersecting beams in wood and metal mesh define the space’s ceiling Image: Ouyang Yun
  • A textured bar counter occupies one end of the space | VERO Ecological Tiles Exhibition Hall & Headquarters by Foshan Topway Design | STIRworld
    A textured bar counter occupies one end of the space Image: Ouyang Yun

Playing the part of the third and final phase of the narrative, the theme guiding the design of the uppermost level is named ‘Grow’, with spaces that showcases a marriage between living spaces and the environment. Illuminating the dwindling relationship between nature and urban living, this section of the exhibition space explores how reforging links to nature can aid in achieving a sense of peace within one’s own home. To this end, the third floor houses display rooms for an ‘Italian home experience’, a western-style apartment kitchen, a box space, a toilet experience space, and an additional product display area.

  • The product display area on the second floor | VERO Ecological Tiles Exhibition Hall & Headquarters by Foshan Topway Design | STIRworld
    The product display area on the second floor Image: Ouyang Yun
  • The third floor houses experience rooms that illustrate relationships between urban living spaces and natural ecosystems | VERO Ecological Tiles Exhibition Hall & Headquarters by Foshan Topway Design | STIRworld
    The third floor houses experience rooms that illustrate relationships between urban living spaces and natural ecosystems Image: Ouyang Yun

Through its highly conceptual and stylised design, VERO Ecological Tiles Exhibition Hall & Headquarters exemplifies the current emergence of exhibition spaces as a playground for designers and architects to explore their wildest whims and follow a more theoretical and metaphorical attitude towards the practice of developing spatial narratives.

  • First Floor Plan | VERO Ecological Tiles Exhibition Hall & Headquarters by Foshan Topway Design | STIRworld
    First Floor Plan Image: Courtesy of Foshan Topway Design
  • Second Floor Plan | VERO Ecological Tiles Exhibition Hall & Headquarters by Foshan Topway Design | STIRworld
    Second Floor Plan Image: Courtesy of Foshan Topway Design
  • Third Floor Plan | VERO Ecological Tiles Exhibition Hall & Headquarters by Foshan Topway Design | STIRworld
    Third Floor Plan Image: Courtesy of Foshan Topway Design
  • Section | VERO Ecological Tiles Exhibition Hall & Headquarters by Foshan Topway Design | STIRworld
    Section Image: Courtesy of Foshan Topway Design
  • Conceptual sketch of spatial narrative | VERO Ecological Tiles Exhibition Hall & Headquarters by Foshan Topway Design | STIRworld
    Conceptual sketch of spatial narrative Image: Courtesy of Foshan Topway Design

Project Details

Name: VERO Ecological Tile Exhibition Hall & Headquarters
Location: Foshan, Guangdong 
Area: 1500 sqm
Year of Completion: 2021
Design firm: Foshan Topway Design
Chief designers: Wang Zhike & Li Xiaoshui
Design team: Qiu Wenfeng, Liu Yangzhu, Zhang Yazhou, Zhou Shenghua, Chen Jiamin
Decoration design: Yang Shiwei 

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