with sculptural volumes, material illusions, and heritage transformations, architects in china are redefining the way we experience spaces for reading. often developed through a poetic conceptual framework, the architecture hosting libraries and bookstores in china aims to evoke a sublime experience, expressing elements of nature and harmoniously transitioning the visitor into another world. while the interiors serve as intimate zones for quiet contemplation, each surface is expressive and performative, used for the display of books.
in this edition of readers radar, designboom explores the great importance of books in the design of reading spaces throughout china.
image © creatar images
shaghai-based practice wutopia lab designs a white bookstore in xi’an, china characterized by smooth, sweeping geometries. the space features curving edges void of sharp corners generated by a stacking of custom steel shelves. wutopia lab curates a reading paradise over the ‘clouds’ featuring a light and streamlined open space. in the center of the floor, structural beams support an exquisite displaying rack for zhongshu’s ‘book of the month’ selection, and can only be occupied by only one person at a time. in this intimate space, above a small reading or meeting room, the original slab is replaced with a glass floor, suggesting the illusion of a water’s surface.
image © shao feng
architecture firm X+living has completed ‘yangzhou zhongshuge’, a library located in zhen yuan, china. the concept was based on the idea of water and how it is the cradle and breeding ground of the yangzhou culture. another important element was the arch bridge — an indispensable traditional element used as a guiding factor of commerce, which will represent in the bookstore the connection between human and books throughout history. as visitors walk in, they are welcomed by the arched walls which turn into ceilings that contain the books. the use of a black mirrored glass as floors reflects the bookshelves while giving a feeling of water.
image by peter dixie
as the world has become increasingly complex, ideas have also been extended to an infinitely broad field. buildings are no longer rigidly wedded to certain fixed and normative styles and routines, but they are showing more pure possibilities. the design of the lacime architects’ sky library in beijing reflects this idea. looking from the south of the base, chinese based firm lacime architects‘ silver-gray building is quietly placed on the grassy slope. the volume and materiality of diffuse aluminum plate generate a dramatic experience which renders the project both distinctive while it simultaneously blends into the background sky.
image by hu yijie
after successfully completing its multi-use community center in shanghai, wutopia lab finalizes its construction of the zhongshu bookstore in suzhou, china. the bookstore is divided into four main areas and several subdivided zones: the sanctuary of crystal for new arrivals, the cave of fireflies for recommendations, the xanadu of rainbows for reading room, and the castle of innocence for children books. the xanadu of rainbows is an open space with large windows, allowing natural light to pour inside the room. the thin perforated aluminum sheets in gradient colors simulate the appearance of rainbows installed in the bookstore. these one centimeter thin panels divide zones of different functions while bringing a mysterious and vague atmosphere to the space.
image courtesy of x+living
x+living was tasked with bringing zhongshuge’s vision to life, ‘to create the most beautiful reading experience space for readers, where they harvest not only wisdom from books, but also the perception and sedimentation of life.’ in turn, the firm created an experiential space that moves guests and readers through landscapes that look as they came out right from the books. the project is located at yun shang fang zhou in the general area of guiyang, china. standing at the commercial plaza, you can recognize the familiar text curtain wall of the famed zhongshuge libraries. the architects designed the immersive visual experience to start at the cultural and creative corridor. the corridor seems like a portal into another dimension, with the curved bookshelves overhead that are mirrored in the super-reflective floor surface.
image courtesy of mix architects
located in gaochun of nanjing, china, a small fishing village called jiangshan commissioned mix architects to meet the basic needs of indigenous people for modern functions and cultural life. the renewal plan proposed by the studio consisted of two parts, namely the renovation of the vacant old homes and the construction of new rural public facilities like a library, a tea pavilion and public toilets. mix architects focused the renovation plan on the transformation of the old house. the design retained the external appearance of the rare old houses hoping to emphasize the importance of regional characteristics and cultural heritage.
ARCHITECTURE IN CHINA (1319)
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