Project Team

Design: 3GATTI Architecture Studio

3GATTI uses an intriguing play of shadows to produce a striped effect resembling the hide of a zebra – thus giving ZeBar its name. It has an undulating cave-like form created by apertures cut into fins along its length.

The Zebar was first conceived in 2006 by a Singaporean movie director and an ex musician from southern China. Designed by Francesco Gatti of the 3Gatti Architecture Studio, the bar is one hypnotic space after another, with white plasterboard fins stacked along walls to create a mesmerizing effect that draws visitors in.

The design, says the architect, is “a caved space formed from of a digital Boolean subtraction of hundreds of slices from an amorphic blob.”

Each plasterboard wall section was cut by hand. Aside from the plasterboard, the only materials used were plywood and black cement, making the project low-cost, and quick to assemble.

“The budget was very low but the client was incredibly good and open-minded to us,” said Gatti. “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.”

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

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.

“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,” added Gatti. “But we were in China where the work of machines is replaced by the work of low paid humans. Using a projector they placed all the sections we drew on the plasterboards and then cut each of them by hands. The cost was surprisingly low and the sense of guilt towards the workers higher.

“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 – a digital design built into an analogic world.