The days of splendid architecture being sacrificed in favour of characterless structures are almost gone. There is still the odd monstrous carbuncle and repulsive parking lot rising here and there; but at least in some Asian capitals, fans of modern architecture should be smiling, despite the perils of traffic congestion and pollution.
Rightly or wrongly, convention centres are becoming showpiece icons for destinations that have enough space for them. China has impressed international exhibition organisers with the amount of space coming online, particularly at venues being built in provincial cities. Industry leaders, however, are equally wary of the toll being taken on venue management. Think vanity projects, impracticability and the challenge of attracting a steady flow of buyers and exhibitors.
Three destinations MIX will be visiting in the next few weeks have been making varied and creative use of space within the limitations they have. Korea Tourism Organisation will be showing off convention centres in Incheon, Daejeon, Seoul and elsewhere to a group of international media before a tour of cultural spots (and shopping) culminates with the Korea MICE Alliance Conference & Awards.
Though Xian is known for the Terracotta warriors and as an established stop on the China tour circuit, new hotels are playing their part in raising the city’s profile among meeting, incentive and conference organisers. Wyndham Grand is one of the latest international brands to open in Qujiang New District with meeting space befitting of the hotel’s name.
Tokyo must win hands down in overcoming the challenges of working within urban confines to provide meeting and convention space. Mori Building, one of Japan’s mega developers, has adopted Toranomon Hills as a model neighbourhood in which the area’s traditional crafts and shops are nurtured instead of shuffled to outlying districts. The towers aren't exactly geometricaly intriguing, but they are built to sustain the worst of what Mother Nature can shock them with.
Amid this rises the Toranomon Hills building, with 52 above-ground levels, where Hyatt’s Andaz Tokyo can be found on the top six floors. The Toranomon Hills Forum occupies the first five levels to provide one of the largest conference centres in the sprawling Shimbashi area of Tokyo. The story doesn’t end there with Andaz offering niche venues for planners of high-end events.
As they, watch this space.
Martin Donovan is the Editor of MIX