This is a project winner of the international invitation competition for the construction of the Automobile Museum in Nanjing, designed by Italy-based architecture studio 3GATTI to explore the relationship between car and museum. The competition was organized last year by the government of Nanjing and Jiangsu Head Investment Group.
A building to be dedicated to the automobile, where the automobile is also the vehicle to visit the space. You visit the first external ramp of the museum with your own private car, like a SAFARI, you park your car on the roof and visit by foot the internal ramp going down. The building could seem to appear as an urban car exhibitor, with its corners and angles filled with tempting shining exposed automobiles.
Chief architect of 3GATTI
+ Project description courtesy of 3GATTI, text by Giampiero Sanguigni
It is difficult to identify one single and continuing exploratory theme in the work of Francesco Gatti. His aim is to experiment with heterogeneous solutions, each time meeting the challenge offered by his new creation’s specific conditions. From the ethereal virtual ceiling of the redevelopment project “In Factory” – his first Chinese work – to the curved forms of the Ze Bar, from the sculptural faceting of the Red Object to the spotted epidermis of his transgenic houses, the architect with Roman origins has never let himself be bound by a specific or recognisable aesthetic style.
The same applies in the winning project for the new car museum at Nanchino where Gatti has envisaged an origami on urban scale. The visual design backs up the fundamental practicality of the project in that it is the distributive organisation and the functional layout that determine the shape of the building. The museum is articulated in two concentric helicoidal ramps; in the external one the visitor drives up the exhibition area in his own car, an experience that the architect describes as a “safari” because the visitor, as a motorist, is an exhibit himself. The moving cars travel upwards diachronically (chronologically) in the folds of the origami from futuristic cars down below to vintage cars above and then up again to the car park on the roof of the building. Here the visitor leaves his car and does the return journey on foot down the inner spiral ramp. Descending he sees all the exhibits as well as varying-sized glass boxes which house the complementary functions of the museum (offices, meeting rooms or laboratories). Once on the ground floor the visitor can take a lift and return to his car on the roof, or perhaps he may find it waiting for him down below for as Gatti himself observes “In the China of opposites, those who have the economic means to possess a car also have the means to have a personal chauffeur.”
The architect describes the museum as a “movie sequence in which the principal actor is the car”, a building where two car-related panorama go hand in hand: on the one hand the architect’s conscious attention to motorway aestheticism and urban scale – the structures and materials remind one of a viaduct – and on the other, his transportation into the museum of the ergonomics of the interior of a car. The furbishing and details within the edifice are related to and on a scale with its specific functions and it is not difficult for the visitor to imagine that he is in a car on a highway, rather than in a museum.
+ Project credits / data
Automobile and car components exhibition, educational installations, design centre, office, workshops laboratories, technical laboratories, conference rooms, space for special events, restaurants, retail, sales office.
Location: Jiangning area, high-tech zone, Nanjing, China.
Total floor area: 15000 m²
Procedure: International invitation competition first price
Design period: May 2008
Intended construction period: 2009
Materials: Steel structure, resin coating, glass partitions
Client: Jiangsu Head Investment group CO.,LTD
Architecture Firm: 3GATTI
Chief architect: Francesco Gatti
Project manager: Summer Nie
Collaborators: Nicole Ni, Muavii Sun, Chen qiuju, Jimmy Chu, Luca Spreafico, Damiano Fossati, Kelly Han.
+ All images and drawings courtesy of 3GATTI
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