Discover how architecture in China is shaped by books

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.

wutopia lab sets a white curved bookstore in xi’an, china

library architecture 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.

X+living uses black mirror glass to reflect books in chinese library

library architecture 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.

lacime architects’ light-grey ‘sky library’ in beijing blends in with background horizon

library architecture

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.

wutopia lab’s metal rainbow bookstore welcomes visitors with a succession of colorful panels

library architecture

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, chinathe 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.

x+living references stalactite caves and rocky landscapes for library in china

library architecture

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.

mix architects transforms old chinese country house into library and teahouse

library architecture

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.

X+living completes chongqing zhongshuge bookstore in china with escher-like stairs

library architecture
image by shao feng

the chongqing zhongshuge bookstore by shanghai-based firm X+living celebrates the landscape and historical sites of its namesake chinese city, chongqing. the two-floor store invites visitors into a theatrical interior, typical of the studio’s design approach, packed with lampshade-shaped bookshelves, an escher-like reading area, and a colorful children’s room with drawings of the city’s landscape, buildings and transportation.

tomoko ikegai / ikg inc illuminates chinese bookstore with fluttering sheets of paper

library architecture
image © nacasa&partners

the tokyo-based studio, tomoko ikegai / ikg inc, has designed the ‘YJY maike centre flagship’, a bookstore and commercial complex in xian, chinaspanning over two floors and occupying 4,500 m2, the vast space has been created to facilitate encounters between people, cultures, and books from around the world. the concept behind the interior was to create a ‘library & gallery.’ the library as a space for learning and enjoying a moment of solitude, while the gallery aspect serves as an area for displaying culture. books play an integral role in tomoko ikegai / ikg inc’s design of the first floor, with a 10 meter high bookshelf just inside the entrance, visually conveying the store’s identity the moment visitors step over the threshold.

gonverge design adds extensive book walls to bookstore-themed commercial complex in china

library architecture
image by weiqi jin lafonce • maxone

undergoing a cultural renaissance, the city of xi’an, china, is home to a new bookstore-themed commercial complex designed by lafonce maxone and intervened by gonverge design for the interiors. the project offers a lifestyle and an educational experience with multiple business models through its ‘culture and commerce’ design strategy. the 18m-high and 240m-long artistic book walls in the building are striking and pioneering, brining a new model for urban commercial space to the city. based on the long, narrow site oriented in the south-north direction and the four-storey-high illuminated atrium, gonverge interior design carried out project orientation planning as well as commercial and spatial design by appealing to all the senses.

X+living designs city made of books in shanghai

library architecture
image by shao feng

located on the 4th floor of the réel mall in the jing’an district of shanghai in china, this bookstore by X+living aims to reference the busy city outside while transforming it into a calm, quiet and relaxing space. a glass curtain wall with subtitles of zhongshuge welcomes the visitors where it is dimly visible that the clean and neat white and grade colors fade softly into each other harmoniously. as the visitor makes his way into the store, he will find out that X+living wants to tell a story related to zebra crossing, an activity common to the city. the plain concrete represents the color of the city road while white book tables stand still on the road in an orderly manner. on the floor, painted white zebra crossings link the tables, which give clear guidance to the path between them.


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