Bookshelves made of perforated aluminum and quartz stone are double partition walls in this labyrinth-like Shanghai bookstore of the local architectural studio Wutopia Lab.
The 452-square-foot bookstore, which opened last month, is located at the foot of a recently completed brick-and-red office block called Ateliers Jean Nouvel, Cifi Xintiandi (known in English as the “Roof”).
The interiors, which consist of interconnected cave-like spaces full of seating, water surface, small trees and pots, he designed Wutopia Lab for CIFI Group investors.
“The client, Mr. Lin of the CIFI Group, wants to build a special bookstore,” explained Wutopia Laba founder Yu Ting.
“He thought that most of the bookstores we meet every day sell only books and some cultural and creative products. He wanted to create a bookstore that shows a lifestyle and is able to combine flowers, wine, tea and carefully selected books.”
The Chinese name of the bookstore is 二 酉, pronounced Er You. “Air” in Chinese means the number “two”, while “you” refers to Mount Big You and Mount You – a place where scholars were said to be preserved books from burning by Chinese Emperor Qin Shi Huang in 213 BC.
“It is a symbol of the continuity of Chinese culture in the future,” Ting said. “Taking two mountains as the theme of my design, I decided to space the two abstract and symbolic mountains in a bookstore.”
The first mountain has the shape of a bookshelf made of overlapping plates of white constructed quartz stone. Located at the entrance to the store, this “little mountain” serves as the entrance to a room with an elliptical table in the center.
The light from the room is filtered through a stone wall to attract customers inside, where they will find new and recommended titles in the bookstore.
To the left of a small mountain area, an ornamental garden containing a well and a “dripping spring” is partially hidden inside a triangular room.
You can view the garden room through a low opening from a small mountain room and through a large circular window located on the other side, at the entrance to the main area of the bookstore.
According to the architects, the concept of framing the view in the interior was borrowed from the traditional Chinese garden design.
The second “mountain”, located in the center of the bookstore, is never seen from the outside. Instead, visitors experience only the interior of the mountain which is conceived as a series of caves.
The caves form bookshelves made of perforated aluminum plates in burgundy. These bookshelves are double partition walls and are organized so that customers can explore the bookstore as a series of small, intimate spaces.
“A big mountain is invisible to you because it’s too big,” Ting explained. “As the old saying goes, you can’t see the real face of a mountain, just be thankful you’re in the mountain.”
“I abstracted the interconnected caves into the spatial experience we are used to, not into a realistic simulation,” he continued.
“The continuous burgundy perforated aluminum plates that make up the caves and bookshelves that make up the various corners and seating areas are actually interconnected caves in Big You Mountain. There are surprises and identical views everywhere at every turn.”
The main area of Big You Mountain is divided into two zones – one is dedicated to reading, with lots of quiet corners and seating, and the other is given to the living room inhabited by a long semicircular table of a common bench set up from a chair.
The tables provide a place for customers to sit and read while enjoying the smell of incense and drinking coffee, tea or wine.
A hidden circular room is located in the center of the floor plan between the two “mountains”.
“The circular space between the two mountains is a secret place,” Ting said. “It’s the private space of a bookstore owner, like a pitcher, in which the sky and the earth, the mountains, the rocks, the pines, the books, the wine and himself – a cave in the middle of Shanghai’s splendor and glamor.”
Believing that bookstores should serve as cultural venues that attract a wide audience, Shanghai-based Ting firm has designed a number of experimental bookstores.
Elsewhere in the city, the firm transformed Building 25 Sinan Mansions into a bookstore inspired by the human body and mind, while in Wuhan, Hubei’s foreign language bookstore adaptation studio involved inserting a shard-like glass wall that broke through its six stories.
It’s a photo CreatAR images.