Umbrella Facade | 3GATTI

Umbrella Facade


Umbrella Facade
New façade for the ex Madrid Pavilion in the Shanghai Expo site.

After the 2010 Shanghai expo the Madrid pavilion needed to be renovated and transformed into a commercial building with retail and office functions. The old façade was built around a 1.5m wide terrace all around the building with bamboo louvers mounted on folding steel frames. In 2012 the bamboo got rotten and the frames rusted so the Shanghai Expo Bureau decided to replace the old bamboo skin with a new façade that could work in the same way: allow the people to open or close the shades so to protect glass facade from the sun in summer and allow more light in during the winter. We were commissioned to find an eye catching concept that can follow those functions but also attract more people in the new commercial area.
If you visit China one of the first surprise you will find is that most of the women protect themselves from the sun using umbrellas and when actually rains most of the time they don’t mind to get wet without any protection. So when they asked us to protect a building in China from the sun this idea came up spontaneously: an umbrella façade.
The idea was to make each umbrella able to be controlled by a pulley so to allow people to interact with it. Apart from the pulley the rest of the mechanism is identical to the one of the umbrella with the only difference that the mechanical parts are made of stainless steel, the frames of aluminum and the external surface of thin corten.
When the umbrellas are fully opened the façade is completely flat so that most of the sun light and strong wind is blocked. If the umbrellas are opened the light is able to come fully inside and the umbrella sticks become attractive star-sticks with an aerodynamic shape not resistant to the wind preventing structural tensions in case of typhoons.


Architecture firm: 3GATTI
Chief architect: Francesco Gatti
Project manager: Bogdan Chipara
Collaborators: Alessandro Paladin, Jennifer Yong, Zara Wang, Yichen Wang

Shanghai World Expo (Group) Co., ltd. 上海世博发展(集团)有限公司

UBPA , Shanghai Expo area 上海世博园区

Replace the old bamboo-louvers façade with a new facade.

1330 m²

Design period:
November 2012

Construction period:
Autumn 2014

Corten, aluminum and stainless steel