16 January 2024

153 banners, 188 objects, 300 sketches…Building Soulfulness opens in Shanghai!

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Heatherwick Studio’s critically acclaimed ‘Building Soulfulness’ exhibition opens today at the Bund Finance Centre in Shanghai.

Running from 17 January to 14 March 2024, the show has been curated by the celebrated Mami Kataoka of the Mori Art Museum. This will be the climax of a tour that has already attracted more than 100,000 visitors in Japan and South Korea and now celebrates the studio’s seminal designs and long-standing relationship with China. The exhibition is hosted by the Fosun Foundation at the Bund Finance Centre – a building designed by the Studio in collaboration with Foster + Partners.

Thomas Heatherwick, the founder of Heatherwick Studio, said:

“I feel such a synergy with Shanghai because when we built the Seed Cathedral for the amazing World Expo in 2012, my studio’s career became super-charged. Now, in honour of our debt to Shanghai, I have the chance to share many of the lessons I’ve learned over 30 years of practice.

“Our intention is to encourage and inspire new generations with the idea that the design of cities themselves can speak to our emotions and bring us all together far more than we think. My dream is that in 10 years’ time there are visitors who came to this show who say ‘I do what I do because of that exhibition’”.

Hosted in partnership with the Shangri-La Group, ‘Building Soulfulness’ features models of the studio’s work from across the globe as well as a full-scale model of Airo, a car that cleans the air as it drives, and a collection of spun chairs for every visitor to enjoy. The exhibition also dives into the story of the studio’s newest project in Shanghai – the West Bund Orbit. Visitors will be able to see an exhibition model as well as drawings and banners of the gallery and event space that opens soon on the waterfront nearby.

The final section of the show is called Humanise and invites people to join a conversation about the way that cities make you feel. A giant scroll, measuring 1.6m in diameter, asks simple, provocative questions such as “which buildings make you feel good, just by walking past them?”. As visitors sketch their replies, the scroll will become a place for creative discussion and a survey tool, cataloguing what people want and what inspires them about the places where they live.

Thomas Heatherwick continued:

“China can lead the world in urban development. With the confidence of its history of thousands of years of designing human buildings it can now create cities for the future that aren’t just based on theoretic logic and planning, but also increasingly on emotional intelligence. My hope is that this show offers clues to the different ways we could all enjoy a better life together in cities.”

The exhibition is kindly sponsored by Shangri-La Group, Roca Shanghai Gallery and EFC Engineering Consulting Co., Ltd. The partnership between Shangri-La Group and Heatherwick Studio will extend beyond Shanghai and into 2024, including the unveiling of a joint trainee programme nurturing China’s next wave of design talent, as well as showcasing projects, speaking engagements and a book launch.

For more information including ticket booking, click here.

Contact details:

Heatherwick Studio


Image: Fosun Foundation