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City opens its Expo 'living room'

2010. 12 January

( Mention Shanghai and people think of the Bund, the Oriental Pearl TV Tower or the World Financial Center. Now there's a new landmark along the Huangpu River - the Expo Center.

The seven-story Expo Center in Pudong New Area will be the main venue for ceremonies, conventions and forums at the six-month World Expo 2010 that opens in Shanghai on May 1. The theme is "Better City, Better Life."

"The Expo Center will be the living room of the city to receive guests from across the world," says Dai Liu, president of the Expo Group in charge of construction.

After the Expo closes, the Expo Center will be open to the public and open for all kinds of exhibitions, conferences, weddings and banquets in the magnificent Gold Hall.

The Expo Center near the Nanpu Bridge is the first major Expo structure to be completed and outfitted. The 142,000-square-meter building is a 400-meter-long rectangle structure along the Huangpu River, the longest structure along the waterway.

The center will take its place alongside buildings of different Western architectural styles built in the 1920s and the skyscrapers of the Lujiazui financial area, says Dai.

The center is one of the five permanent, "green" structures at the Expo site, along with the China Pavilion, the Theme Pavilion, the Performance Center and the Expo Boulevard.

It will serve as the media center during the Expo and house the headquarters of the Expo organizer.

The center contains five major halls, red, green, blue, gold and silver.

The 2,600-seat Red Hall, the main conference hall, can accommodate many international events, such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum and the Laureus World Sports Awards ceremony.

At the end of the Expo in October, a forum of world leaders will be held in the hall.

From 2011, the hall will be the site for the annual plenary sessions of the Shanghai People's Congress and the Shanghai Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the city's top advisory body.

The hall can be converted to a stage for performances and concerts, and will be even more comfortable for audiences than the main hall of the Shanghai Grand Theater, one of the best stages in the country, says Dai.

Going Green Hall

People will enter the Green Hall, the prime public space, when they enter the center. The 4,000-square-meter area features environmental protection and a 40-meter-high waterfall.

The hall has more than 10 areas planted with trees where visitors can stroll, crossing two wooden bridges and touching the waterfall.

The hall also features a vertical garden, a green wall covering more than 500 square meters. The evergreen plants help insulate the building, conserve energy, purify the air and beautify the hall.

A 400-square-meter screen can show movies at the center of the hall.

The 600-seat square-shape Blue Hall can host international summits.

The Gold Hall in the west contains a banquet hall and multi-function room. Golden lights shine on tens of thousands of crystal balls hanging from the ceiling, creating a cloud of gold. The wall and carpets are golden in color, so that visitors are wrapped in gold.

The hall will host the national banquet to receive world leaders at the Expo.

It can accommodate more than 300 tables and 3,000 diners.

A vast kitchen of the same size is beneath the hall.

After the event the hall will be open for banquets and weddings.

The 5,000-seat Silver Hall, the main multifunction hall, will be the largest convention and exhibition area. It can host conferences, exhibitions and concerts.

During the 184-day Expo it will contain the media center for journalists from around the world.

In the Expo Center multiple events can be held at the same time, as the building has excellent sound insulation.

The roof of the Expo Center offers the best view of the Expo Park and Huangpu River. It has a rooftop garden and a helipad. It also contains four VIP rooms named spring, summer, autumn and winter. They are decorated with pictures of orchids, bamboo, chrysanthemum and plum blossoms, respectively.

The Expo features environmentally friendly design and construction materials. It will recycle river and rain water. Every year it can save 2,160 tons of coal, representing enough electricity to supply the needs of 10,000 Shanghai families for 12 months, says Dai.

In summer, the center will turn collected water into ice at night when the city's grid system is under less pressure; the ice will be used to cool the pavilion during the day.

After the event people can stroll in the 40,000-square-meter garden around the center. Green hall (Central Hall)

The 4,000-square-meter Green Hall is the prime public space of the Expo Center. The area features extensive indoor planting, a green wall, waterfall and water scenes. A water curtain on the glass elevator demonstrates how the building reclaims water.

Red Hall (Main Conference Hall)

From 2011, the hall will be the venue for the annual plenary sessions of the Shanghai People's Congress and the Shanghai Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the city's top advisory body. The 2,600-seat hall can be transformed into a theater for multiple performances.

Blue Hall (Shanghai Hall)

The 600-seat square-shape hall can host international summits such as Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit.

Gold Hall (Banquet Hall)

The gold-decorated hall in the west contains a vast banquet hall for 3,000 people (300 tables) and a multi-function room. After the event the public can hold weddings and other functions there. A huge kitchen on the lower level supplies the hall.

Silver Hall (Multifunction Hall)

The 5,000-seat hall will be the largest convention and exhibition room in Shanghai. It can host conferences, exhibitions and concerts.