Architect’s mind-bending bookshop opens in China

The interior is modelled on a medieval conception of the solar system (Feng Shao/X + Living)
Shanghai architect X+Living has published images of its newly completed bookstore in the city of Huai’an in Jiangsu Province.

The architect describes its design for the Zhongshuge chain as “tearing open a portal through time and space” and adds that it gives residents a break from the “repetitiveness and mundanity of reinforced concrete”.

The store’s interior is based on a medieval astronomical model known as the orrery, with a possible nod to Jorge Luis Borges’ infinite library.

The use of mirrors creates the appearance of an infinite library (Feng Shao/X + Living)

The aim, in the words of the architect, is to “conjure a celestial spectacle of concentric rings within the confines of the interior – a wormhole into dreams, a Milky Way to the mind, constructing a vast, expansive cosmic reverie”.

The mind-bending effect is increased by mirrored ceilings, although also brought back to Earth by the glass facade through which the surrounding shopping mall can be seen.

Altogether, the 810 sq m bookshop has 20,000 books, arranged on walnut shelves along a “reading corridor” and an ovular reading room, complete with cushions, brass reading lamps, and wooden floor.

The view from the mall outside … (Feng Shao/X + Living)

The lead designer on the scheme was Li Xiang, who graduated from Birmingham City University in England. She founded X+Living in 2011.

So far, the designer has worked on five stores for Zhongshuge. Three others are in Shanghai and the fourth is in Yangzhou.

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