Inside a Dreamy Bookstore That Takes Architectural Cues From Nature

published Feb 28, 2021
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Credit: Shao Feng

Move aside, Barnes & Noble: X+Living, a Shanghai-based architecture firm, has designed the bookstore of every bibliophile’s dream. Dujiangyan Zhongshuge, a bookshop located in Dujiangyan in the Sichuan Province of China, takes architectural cues from natural landscapes. Mirrored ceilings, curved bookshelves and staircases, luxe black tiled floors, and towering arched doorways make the bookstore feel all the more surreal and grandiose. 

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Dujiangyan Zhongshuge, completed in October of last year, took about a month to design and five months to construct. The curved staircases and arched doorways hope to evoke that feeling of “stepping into a rolling mountain,” according to X+Living founder Li Xiang, while the mirrored ceilings “effectively expands the space by reflection” — creating an open environment to make the colossal room feel all the more “surreal.” 

“We moved the local landscape into the indoor space,” Li told Architectural Digest. “The project is located in Dujiangyan, which is a city with a long history of water conservancy development, so in the main area, you could see the construction of the dam integrated into the bookshelves.”

Credit: Shao Feng

Credit: Shao Feng
Credit: Shao Feng

The first floor of Dujiangyan Zhongshuge houses a café and children’s area filled with colorful cushions, while the second floor accommodates seating for individuals to read, work, or meet. The bookstore has a collection of over 80,000 books — but admittedly, not all of them actually extend upward. According to Li, the firm used film printed with images of books to give the illusion that the titles stretch from floor to ceiling. “If we placed real books on the upper shelves, it’s not only hard for readers to reach them but also difficult for operators to take care of,” Li told AD. 

Credit: Shao Feng

“This project is a holistic concept,” the designer continued. “We needed to coordinate every part of the space to ensure that any functional item, whether it is a bookshelf or a desk, does not break away from the theme of the concept and at the same time has a sense of beauty.” The shop is a thing of beauty, indeed.