Umbrella facade designed for Shanghai complex
By Donna Taylor
April 25, 2013
Architecture studio 3Gatti has taken inspiration from colorful parasols carried during Shanghai’s hot summer months to design a new facade for the 2010 Shanghai Expo’s Madrid Pavilion. The new screen for the re-purposed office and retail block will feature steel umbrellas that can be individually opened and closed and used to manage interior light levels.
The new umbrella facade will replace the bamboo louvers on folding steel frames that currently surround the building's glazed walls and 1.5-meter (5-ft) wide terrace. Unfortunately the bamboo and frames have degraded since the pavilion was converted to a retail and office complex following the 2010 Expo, during which it hosted a low-cost housing exhibition.
The design from the 3Gatti design team maintains the public interaction of the original facade, and allows people to adjust shades to provide the desired light levels. Each umbrella is controlled by a pulley system that operates a central spring loaded joint mechanism identical to a standard umbrella, though slightly too heavy to slip into your handbag, being made from steel.
When all umbrellas are open the facade becomes a flat surface protecting the interior from strong winds and blocking excess solar gain. The design details from 3Gatti also confirm that the star shaped sticks of the closed umbrellas are aerodynamic, deflecting wind in case of typhoons.
Each umbrella frame is made from aluminum while the surface uses the increasingly popular perforated Corten steel. Adjoining facade panels are also made from Corten steel, with the ground floor walls remaining glazed to allow increased light at this level.
The new facade is scheduled for a construction period in the Autumn of 2014.