Decoding Design

In China, villa-offices are built on the roof of a shopping center

In China, villa-offices are built on the roof of a shopping center

Posting in Architecture

A community of rooftop villas has been constructed on top of a bustling shopping center in the city of Zhuzhou in Hunan Province.


A common part of the modern urban landscape is the rooftop garden. Where space is scarce, we make do with what we have, putting things like gardens in unconventional place. In China, however, this notion of unconventional space-saving has been taken one step further. An entire community of rooftop villas has been constructed on top of a bustling shopping center in the city of Zhuzhou in Hunan province.

Despite issues concerning safety and legality, The Zhuzhou Jiutian Real Estate company has constructed the 4 buildings as offices for the 160 real estate management employees. Using the modern designs and landscape architecture, the buildings were modeled after villas but not intended to be sold.

In a province of over 4 million people, the 4 buildings are so well hidden that many residents haven't even seen them. They are up, 8 stories high on top a shopping center. Zhuzhou was named one of the national garden cities in 2008, paving the way for this kind of innovation.

This is a recent trend in urban China. In 2011, an ordinance was introduced requiring buildings over 12 floors or 45 meters(147.7 feet) to have green rooftops with living vegetation. And now using that as a spring board for future innovation these offices or villas are set to serve as a model for future rooftop undertakings.

I want to open this one up to the readers: what do you think about growing urban environments not outward, but instead upward? By building on top of buildings, you create not only a whole new skyline, but you also open up a ridiculous amount of space (though roof upgrades would be an inhibiting factor). I don't know how I feel about the sturdiness of a WalMart to hold a new neighborhood, but these offices (or villas?) raise interesting questions about how to grow when space is nowhere to be found.

[Daily Mail]
Image: China Foto Press

Share this

Beth Carter

Contributing Editor

Beth Carter is a freelance journalist based in San Francisco. She has worked for Catalyst magazine, the New York Times Syndicate, BBC Travel and Wired. She holds degrees from the University of Oregon and New York University. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure