Shelves Inspire High Rise in Xian, China | Home Design Find

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Shelves Inspire High Rise in Xian, China

Shelf Hotel6 architecture

Ever inspired by something on a much larger or smaller scale as an idea for a design? The cheerful way shelves support whatever we put on them is the inspiration for this extroverted high rise residential/office and hotel building in China, from 3Gatti architects, who have been designing in China for 7 years, and have learned from the experience.

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On each “shelf” entire little townhouse developments are gradually embellished and adorned in ongoing creation by those who will live and work in them.

“Working 7 years as an architect in China I learned that the construction here follow very strictly and spontaneously the flow of economy without many constrains from regulations, planners and building managements.” says Gatti.

shel hotel1 architecture

“Usually architects built objects where the integrity and personality is made by the beauty of the exterior shape and material, shapes and material that have to stay clean and unchanged till the end of the building life. That’s maybe possible in a country where the managements and regulations are very strict and conservative and where probably the economy is very slow creating no development acceleration”.

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“Here all architects get frustrated because they can make pictures to their beautiful creations only in the first month life of the building, after that inhabitants start to put unwanted attachments to the building: advertising signs, volume extensions, additional decorations and other additions following their own living or business needs and personalities.”

Gatti’s flexible design transforms this tendency of Chinese culture from a liability into an asset. The building facade is a series of simple shelves, so that every change made over time adds rather than subtracts from the building.

Shelf Hotel4 architecture

Most of the floors, mixed between office spaces and hotels, offer flexible loft spaces for live/work set-ups and for young couples. Gatti sees the building as a magnet for the young. “But instead of attracting them in the chaos of the city with its inhuman spaces, we will bring them in a natural and peaceful variety of environments”

Shelf Hotel3 architecture

But it is also possible, in traditional Chinese fashion, to create a courtyard as the center of a small grouping of small traditional buildings. A respectful home for the aging parents of some of those living below, that is both close, but independent?

This brings the best of both worlds, as Gatti says: “a multicultural international architectural language and at the same time strongly attached to the Xian and Chinese traditions.”

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“In the ground floor the houses volumes will extend to the front area creating small plazas together with green walls of bamboo. Those will be small spaces in human scale so to be able to make people enjoy open air restaurant areas or outdoor activities”.

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The design is flexible, fostering the dynamic community of an old-style Chinese village – but the energy efficiency of a high rise, with the environmental benefits of close packed (and stacked!) urban living.

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