Zebar by 3Gatti Architecture Studio

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Zebar by 3GATTI Architecture Studio

This bar in Shanghai by 3Gatti Architecture Studio has an undulating cave-like form created by apertures cut into fins along its length.

Zebar by 3GATTI Architecture Studio

Called Zebar, the live music venue has a zig-zag plan.

Zebar by 3GATTI Architecture Studio

Each of the boards used to make the fins and shape the interior was cut by hand.

Zebar by 3GATTI Architecture Studio

Photographs are by Daniele Mattioli.

Zebar by 3GATTI Architecture Studio

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Zebar by 3GATTI Architecture Studio

The information below is from 3Gatti Architecture Studio:

a live bar in Shanghai

This project was born in 2006 when a Singaporean movie director and an ex musician from the south of China decided to open a live bar in Shanghai.

Zebar by 3GATTI Architecture Studio

The budget was very low but the client was incredibly good and open-minded to us.

Zebar by 3GATTI Architecture Studio

The schedule was very tight and fortunately they liked immediately one of the first concepts I proposed to them: a caved space formed from of a digital Boolean subtraction of hundreds of slices from an amorphic blob.

Zebar by 3GATTI Architecture Studio

The idea looks complex but actually is very simple and was born naturally from the digital 3D modelling environments where me and others enjoy playing with virtual volumes and spaces.

Zebar by 3GATTI Architecture Studio

The space was subdivided into slices to bring it back from the digital into the real world; to give a real shape to each of the infinite sections of the fluid rhino nurbs surfaces.

Zebar by 3GATTI Architecture Studio

In Europe the natural consequence of this kind of design will be giving the digital model to the factory and thanks to the numeric control machines cut easily the huge amount of sections all different from each other.

Zebar by 3GATTI Architecture Studio

But we were in China where the work of machines is replaced by the work of low paid humans.

Zebar by 3GATTI Architecture Studio

Using a projector they placed all the sections we drew on the plasterboards and then cut each of them by hands.

Zebar by 3GATTI Architecture Studio

The cost was surprisingly low and the sense of guilt towards the workers higher.

Zebar by 3GATTI Architecture Studio

The construction was incredibly fast and was almost finished in a couple of months, when we discovered the naïve clients didn’t have any business plan and the site remained closed for 3 years and was finally completed and opened in 2010 when they discovered how to run the business.

Zebar by 3GATTI Architecture Studio

This is the story of the ZEBAR, a digital design built into an analogic world.

Text by Francesco Gatti

Zebar by 3GATTI Architecture Studio


Architecture firm: 3Gatti
Chief architect: Francesco Gatti
Project manager: Summer Nie
Nicole Ni, Chen Qiuju, Kelly Han, Chen Han Yi, Lu Cheng Yuan, Jessie Zhengxin, Ronghui Chen, Vivian Husiyue, Aurgho Jyoti

Bar, restaurant, live music stage area, lounge area, dining area, kitchen, toilets.

Contractor: Eric Liang
Client: Jim Dandy
Location: KIC plaza, Chuangzhi Tiandi, Songhu road, Shanghai
Total area: 569 m²
Design period:autumn 2006
Construction period:spring 2008
Bar opening: november 2010
Materials: white epoxy, black concrete, plywood and plasterboard

See also:


A Red Object by 3Gatti
Architecture Studio
Automobile Museum by 3GATTI Architecture Studio More restaurants
and bars
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  • http://www.vivoocreative.co.uk Luke

    Wow that's absolutely breathtaking!

  • tarja nurmi

    it is so hmmm… imre makovecz inspired

  • walter m.

    first impression: this space makes me feel nauseous, as though i have been swallowed by a large whale and i am being tossed and turned in a tight cavernous space with no exit.

  • http://www.officebusters.net eva

    very nice futuristic look…

  • timmy

    someone found the 'contour' button in Rhino then….

  • http://www.fizzfieldgrass.com Fizz

    In there you wouldn't even need a drink to feel you've had one too many…

  • James

    The problem with digital fabrication is that the architects using it often don't understand that sitting in a room coated in flammable epoxy doesn't suddenly become appealing just because they made a really abstract shape. It's still a nightmarishly sterile space that is nothing more than CAD-porn for the purpose of self-promotion.

    I would rather drink my avant-garde cocktail outside.

    • niko from DK

      James, I´ll toast to that.

      The design doesn't help anything or serve anything – all it does is self-promote is you you rightfully put it.

      Let's sit in the grass.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=511692478 Joshua Nelson

    exciting and current

  • jack

    "the naïve clients didn’t have any business plan and the site remained closed for 3 years and was finally completed and opened in 2010 when they discovered how to run the business."

    Wow, I bet other clients are lining up now to be publically called naive and derided….

  • hcch

    yes. they felt very guilty about exploiting chinese workers but they still exploited them.

  • shalimar

    Isn´t that the "Korova-Milk-Bar" out of Clockwork Orange?

  • bob

    It would be cool to shot a music video there!

  • dandelion

    so beautiful!feel strange

  • guy

    this has got to be one of the strangest pieces of text accompanying a design I've ever read. Perhaps there were some translation difficulties between the Chinese designers and the Italian copywriter? For all its iregularity and awkwardness (confessions of guilt and accusations of naivety!), I am totally in love with its honesty.

    As for the design, its not that bad is it? For a young crowd it must be exciting and fun. Conceptually very 90s, and yeah sure its not very subtle or sophisticated but its bar, not an opera house or a library.

    On the other hand, I would love to see it full of people and see whether people trip on the curves where the floor meets the wall. And, as James pointed out, I hope its has a proper fire management plan, very important for a club. All those nooks and must be a real b**** to clean too…. but as they say, they have cheap labour.

  • mark

    Great project and a good story.
    I couldn't care if it is CAD porn or cheap labor because it is a great idea brought to life. And then add on to the experience, that if you feel guilty or nauseous then it doesn't cost extra …

  • apoorv

    An Irony of a negative space. intruding in to once mind,deeply.
    …too much paradox…!!!

  • http://www.homestylist.co.il עיצוב פנים

    Is it just me or this reminds you the Time Tunnel?

  • sebchacuriocity

    Woaaa ! it makes me unconfortable