Shelf Hotel by 3Gatti Architecture Studio


Shelf Hotel by 3Gatti Architecture Studio

Rather than design a run-of-the-mill skyscraper for a new hotel in Xi'an, China, architects 3Gatti decided to put lots of smaller buildings on a gigantic set of shelves.

Shelf Hotel by 3Gatti Architecture Studio

Houses and apartment blocks on the lower levels of the Shelf Hotel will contain hotel suites.

Shelf Hotel by 3Gatti Architecture Studio

Office blocks will be placed nearer the top.

Shelf Hotel by 3Gatti Architecture Studio

Two shelves will be omitted from the lower part of the tower, creating an elevated garden including a courtyard surrounded by restaurants.

Shelf Hotel by 3Gatti Architecture Studio

The project is currently awaiting approval from the local authority.

Shelf Hotel by 3Gatti Architecture Studio

Check out a hotel in the Netherlands that looks like a pile of houses here.

Shelf Hotel by 3Gatti Architecture Studio

We've featured a few projects by Rome and Shanghai firm 3Gatti Architecture Studio - see them here.

Shelf Hotel by 3Gatti Architecture Studio

Here's some more explanation from 3Gatti Architecture Studio:

Shelf Hotel

This project is intended to be the the first contemporary building in the contemporary Xi'an; want to be an architecture in open dialogue with the rest of the world in a multicultural international architectural language and at the same time strongly attached to the Xi'an and Chinese traditions.

Shelf Hotel by 3Gatti Architecture Studio

One main purpose of this design is to follow the needs of different inhabitant without loosing the power of a strong landmark building in the cityscape.

Shelf Hotel by 3Gatti Architecture Studio

In the common buildings the design is a dam imposed by the architect to the mutating needs of the people and of the developing history of the city. This building wants to be an open matrix to be filled during time with the mutating expectations from a growing culture and society.This matrix will be the more expensive part of the building that of course is the structure, the only element very difficult to mutate during time.

Shelf Hotel by 3Gatti Architecture Studio

The objects that will fill the matrix will be built following the different owners identities, functions and real estate needs in a more free and low cost construction methods.

Shelf Hotel by 3Gatti Architecture Studio

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.

Shelf Hotel by 3Gatti Architecture Studio

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.

Shelf Hotel by 3Gatti Architecture Studio

Is not the case of China. 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.

Shelf Hotel by 3Gatti Architecture Studio

Our design want to make of this dynamic attitude of Chinese culture the real power of the building facade; so that every change during time will give not less but more beauty to the building look and overall concept.

Shelf Hotel by 3Gatti Architecture Studio

Till the sixties it always have been a dream for architects to create an highrise building where to show the identities and personalities of each inhabitant instead of building an anonymous facade to represent the hundreds of people and business going on inside the building. This can be the right opportunity to realize this dream emphasizing the beauty of the collage aesthetics. If this was intended to be a design for our parents probably was better to empathize the deep meaning of a unique culture making and object with an unambiguous hidden spirit to be discovered by research and abnegation.

Shelf Hotel by 3Gatti Architecture Studio

But this actually is a design oriented to the future and to the next generation like all works of responsible architects should be. Observing young people you will notice that they are looking for a life with a simultaneity of stimuli, they are used to live in an interactive environment with many short experiences instead of a unique deep unequivocal one. They are moving in masses naively, led by a revolutionary instinct towards the collective creation and without regards for personal creativity, I'm sure they are the true prophets, those who will guide us towards an amazing future.

Shelf Hotel by 3Gatti Architecture Studio

This is a design for them, its a way to attract them speaking their own language. The design will show them a variety of different spaces, different facades, different cultural identities, different experiences. 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 where to learn about themselves, their own culture and the culture from their peers around the world. This building wants to represent their spirit of collective creation and the facade will literally represent this continuous and interactive flow of creations. This building wants to represent their spirit of collective creation and the facade will literally represent this continuous and interactive flow of creations.

Shelf Hotel by 3Gatti Architecture Studio

One of the biggest problems to solve in this design was how to get rid of the building shadow on the neighbor residence buildings. Chinese regulation is very strict on this and don’t allow more than certain amount of shadow time cover every day. Our building is 100 meters tall and quite large. Thanks to software analysis we discover the critical point to be not too far from the building base where the shadow actually is not moving but is almost permanent all day long. We spontaneously solved this problem by rising the upper part of the volume so that the sun can reach exactly the critical area in need for more light. In this way we opened an opportunity for a large garden to be placed inside this forced gap. This garden will be the heart of the hotel together with the top roof garden where we placed a Chinese courtyard residence traditional typology (siheyuan).

Shelf Hotel by 3Gatti Architecture Studio

Those green opportunities will be the location for special function related with the exhibition and research about Chinese traditional cultural activities such as calligraphy, tea and taiji together with Buddhist meditation and learning areas. Will be also the place where to grow vegetable and other special food in green houses and water pools.

Shelf Hotel by 3Gatti Architecture Studio

Restaurants and lounge spaces will be also placed in those green areas and will be visible from the skylights and transparent floors of the below and upper hotel rooms. The green will be located in small amount in each double floor of the highrise, especially in the gaps between the object/houses that fills the slabs matrix structure.

Shelf Hotel by 3Gatti Architecture Studio

The structure will be composed of pillars and inverted slabs every two floors. In this way is possible to take use of the space between the beams for different purpose like for storage spaces, soil for trees and green areas, pools, mechanical equipment and other functions adaptable to the space under the floor surface.

Shelf Hotel by 3Gatti Architecture Studio

Most of the houses actually will not be completely autonomous volumes but will be aggregate together and divided only by apparent front gaps so not to waste habitable square meters.

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.

Shelf Hotel by 3Gatti Architecture Studio

We believe in this way to create a sustainable project that can last during the years developing its spirit from the ancient Chinese traditions to the future inevitable global culture.

Shelf Hotel by 3Gatti Architecture Studio

Architecture firm: 3GATTI
Chief architect: Francesco Gatti
Project manager: Borja Gómez
Collaborators: Tyler Johnson, Karen Tang, John Jiang, Lisa Liu
Structural engineer: Jun Gang Sun
Client: Renhe Estate (Shaanxi Weizhi Group)
Location: Keji Road, Gaoxin district, Xi'an, China
Programme: Five star Hotel, Retail, Restaurants, Spa, Gym, Office, Parking, Green Park
Total area: 50,000 m²
Design period: December 2011

Shelf Hotel by 3Gatti Architecture Studio

Materials: steel and reinforced concrete structure, bamboo, wood, recycled local stones, recycled gray bricks, recycled terracotta bricks, corrugated steel, glass

  • Matt

    Really like the concept. It brings variation and a human scale to high-rise, although could fall into novelty if not done sensitively. Not convinced that the gap contributes anything meaningful to the problem of overshadowing. The problem are delineated by the read lines is hardly matched by the rendered shadow path – and this assumes that the gap isn't going to be full of plants, people and architectural miscellanea.

  • Colonel Pancake

    Sh*t, why not?

  • Joel

    Looks a lot like James Wines High Rise Homes design from 1981.

    • mirtec

      yes it does :) I had the exact same reaction… but still a nice concept though!

  • Benjamin

    What a frivolous piece of neo-vernacular nonsense!
    What a waste of space!
    I'm not a fan of architects evoking the past at all, but the pitch on the "roofs" seems to evoke a western vernacular. Why?

  • Greg

    This idea is about 60 years old (or even older). The principle of a flexible city / cluster is interesting in general. Look at the ideas of Yona Friedman for example.

    This will never happen for a hotel because it will be much too expensive.

  • rohtmuz

    Can't quite work out a critical response to this, except that I know I don't like it!

    A cross between a kids shelves with toy buildings on and the materials section of a builders merchant/diy store. This is a truly awful design.

    Others have attempted attempted to get plants into buildings more successfully in their Expo Pavilion in 2000 and Richard Rogers building on Leadenhall Street in London (currently under construction).

    If it is to be so literal, why has a 3D image of buildings been made, why not just photograph a shelf with models of buildings on?????? Slightly more poetic?

  • Grapes

    Im looking forward to hereing comments on this.

    Im speachless at the moment.

  • Nino

    i think the idea is interesting but the execution is fairly banal. The shelves should surely be holding more special treasures rather than mundane grey tupperware-esque creations? I like the use of Chinese courtyard style forms (in plan) however…

  • Nino

    And one more thing… why is everyone always so obsessed that an idea is original? Strange. N

  • Shavool

    Itsch not ready yet

  • intellekto

    It make sense to me.
    I work in china and actually the gap on the building elevation can be a genius idea to overcome some strict chinese regulation about the neighbour shadowing!
    Also the inverted slabs is a nice solution for all that floating gardens.
    And the messy aggregation of different facades is in a way very “chinese” and gives identity to the different owners and probably can give more flexibility during the super fast chinese development.
    Maybe is a crazy idea for europe but I think make sense here in the contemporary china.

  • marco

    There seems to be an unofficial architectural tradtion of the yearly tribute to A.B. Walker's 1909 stacked houses cartoon. Welcome to the club 3Gatti.

  • airborn

    Really like the idea of stacking individual elements for residential high rise buildings. Like said before it brings back the human scale. It shouldn't look to Favela like though. I am thinking more like variations on a theme with enough freedom for some personal input. Institutional, corporate or public buildings could still be designed as a coherent design as is commonly practiced. The contrast will make a city more exiting.

  • Zuangster

    Why, the hell, would a designer assume that the vernacular architecture would still persist its human scale social interaction, spatial atmosphere and programmatic relationship when they are stacked up? It's just like why would people assume that monkeys will behave naturally and reflect behavioral patterns when they are caged for either display or scientific experiments, however natural the cage seems to be. Human scale does not happen at just the scale of a building or complex, but also a much deeper social level beyond the immediate visibility and is constructed by the ideological recognition of the space.

    • airborn

      I and others believe, this is a serious attempt to make high rise buildings less corporate. Human scale in architecture does matter. I believe you are taking human scale beyond it's meaning. Could you give an example of a residential building that is representative of a social level beyond immediate visibility that is constructed by the ideological recognition of space? I think the era that architects believed we could transform the social patterns of a society is long gone.

  • fion

    I think it has potential in the way of creating communities within a typically homogenous skyscraper form however it is underdeveloped. It just remains a formal exercise at the moment. You could've really pushed the idea of stacking that arrangment where you have the buildings surrounding courtyards

  • ada

    radical and surreal but still I wish I could live in one of those ferry tale floating houses like in a myazaki cartoon

  • chris

    I'm curious to see the rest of the drawings
    how they solved all the sections…I think is difficult but possible
    hope to see it built or in a more complete publication

  • ben zhou

    yea I think this is the only kind of building chinese will be able to manage during the years without corrupting the original architect concept!

  • All I can think of is the Murakami inspires world of Oz from Summer Wars.

  • hugoeccles

    Look at SITE Architecture concepts from the 70s…

  • Rafel

    This could be ok for appartments, but for a hotel? Nonsense, the client just wants an acceptable cheap price for a confortable room, a good place for breakfast, and maximum a gym and a pool.

    • vanda

      if there was no developer looking for excellence probably most of the architecture masterpieces will not exist at this time
      fortunately some of them took risk investing in architecture and I'm sure they got also economical benefits from it

  • Karl Metz

    What about the seismic lateral bracing? This kind of looks like a tragedy waiting to happen.

    • dieter

      I've seen concept designs much crazier than this that was solved pretty well during the development design stage
      I think will not be hard to make this scheme safe with few adjustments

  • jhon

    is a concept many architects dreamed before
    in this specific case the design is especially well executed
    hope finally somebody is brave enough to built it!


    its a kowloon city just waiting to happen, I mean what happened to all those modernist apartment blocks in the 70’s, give it a few years and itll be like something out of mad max.

  • Hope the proposal will be approved. Just want to ask about the spaces between shelves or studios, what will be the planned beautification of it?

  • Einar

    This version was built 1960 by Swedish architect Erik Friberg:

  • bondiamarc

    Looks like the towers of the book "Ready Player One":

  • Chris

    'The project is currently awaiting approval from the local authority.' … Good Luck.