A tunnel of books in China by XL Muse

Shanghai architecture firm XL-Muse has completed a mesmerizing library for book retailer Zhongshuge, in Yangzhou, China.

The entire design concept of the bookstore revolves around the idea of water and its breeding role in the Yangzhou culture as well as around the idea of the arched bridge and its guiding factor in the commercial sector.

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Which architectural features succeed in developing the ideas into reality?

  • The flooring:

The floor of the bookstore is made of a black mirror material, designed to echo the type of reflection you can find in water.

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  • The shelving:

Books are not arranged in a traditional shelving system but rather in a specially designed arched concave shelves. These arched shelves reach from both sides to the ceiling but do not meet at the top; they are separated by a lightning bolt-shaped gap across the center of the space. This gap is meant to echo the presence of a river, leading customers deeper into the bookstore.

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  • The lighting:

Usually, libraries are very intensely lit in order for readers to have the necessary lighting. However, in this bookstore, the lighting is very soft, as if meant to create an atmosphere of blurriness that blends well with the flooring reflections.

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The combination of the flooring, shelving and lighting creates the illusion of an hypnotic mysterious tunnel of books that I would personally love to be immersed in.

Other rooms in the bookstore are designed within the same architectural language with certain nuances of course.

The reading room features huge curved sculptural shapes with white pillars and a traditional and vertical shelving system. The kids ‘area features bright-colored shelves shaped like houses, towers, clouds, etc… made of disassembled and movable pieces, forming a village themed space.

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I think this bookstore is particularly interesting from an architecture viewpoint because it is very bold, and I personally LOVE bold. It is a space that has very clear architectural features that come together in a nice coherent way; and the best part is that it looks great aesthetically!

This is not the usual bookstore that you might run into every day, it is the kind of bookstore that you would want to visit to live the spatial experience and to get immersed in a parallel world of reflections and light.

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