wutopia lab has completed the renovation of the historic st. nicholas church in shanghai to create a new bookstore. specializing in poetry, the new intervention offers 1000 poetry books in a range of different languages. designed around the concept of building a ‘church in a church’ and featuring dramatic light amid perforated steel plates, the contemporary interior marks a continuation of the studio’s signature style.
all images © creatAR images
the former orthodox church dates back to 1932, however in the past years the building had been used as an office, factory, warehouse, and private residence before eventually becoming a club and restaurant. when wutopia lab approached the project, the church was in disrepair, and with the city’s historic building protection, the existing façade, structural system, basic floor plan and distinctive interior decoration had to be retained.
due to these regulations, the design by wutopia lab places a contemporary insertion inside the existing building fabric, carefully revealing the church’s original features. after spending time to sand down and clean the original materials, elements, such pillars, floral decorations, walls, and flooring were given new life.
‘I believe that the poetry bookstore should be the sacred space of the city of shanghai. it should have an independent spirituality and should not be based on the religion of the old site. given the fact that the dome could not be transformed, I used bookshelf to create a new structure as a church in the old building church. this is church in church, a sanctuary for modern people was born in where once a sanctuary of faith’ – wutopia lab.
the steel bookstore utilized a total of 45 tons of steel and was built by 30 workers in 80 days. the workers had to first cut 5mm steel plates into 128 standpipes, 640 large steel plates and 2921 small steel plates for 23 layers of crossbars according to the drawings. after pre-assembling them outside, the pieces were then moved inside and welded together. finally, the bookstore of 388 m2 and a height of 9.9 meters was methodically formed with a gap of just 50 cm left from the old wall.
within the silver bookstore, a balcony was transformed into a golden pulpit. here you can see how the steel bookstore and the old masonry church are interwoven without touching. thanks to the light strips on the wall, readers can also trace the original outline of the church and tell which part is new. the east and west part of the church was transformed into a café. in contrast to the silver metal bookstore, a chocolate color was employed to give the café a warm and cozy atmosphere.+
project name: sinan books (poetry store)
project location: shanghai, china
design firm: wutopia lab
project year: december 2019
chief architect: yu ting
project architects: shengrui pu, mingshuai li
design team: qinghe kang, xueqin jiang, jun chen, jiqing ma, dali pan
gross built area: 4176.40 ft2 (388 m2)
design consultant: s5 design co., ltd
restoration design: shanghai construction decoration (group) design co., ltd.
structural consultant: junfeng yu
light consultant: chloe zhang
constructors: shanghai interior decoration engineering co., ltd., bxc design construction
client: shanghai century cloud culture development co., ltd
photography: creatAR images
architecture in china (1064 articles)
architecture in shanghai (114 articles)
library architecture and design (192 articles)
wutopia lab (14 articles)
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