The award-winning Shanghai-based design firm X+Living was commissioned to design book retailer Zhongshuge’s Hangzhou and Yangzhou branch this year. The Hangzhou location was unveiled in April, while the Yangzhou location opened to the public just earlier this month. X+Living approached the Hangzhou location with the ambitious mindset of wanting to design the most beautiful bookstore in the world. As for the Yangzhou Zhongshuge store, X+Living focused instead on tying together the region’s surrounding geography and its cultural history with their design concepts.
Located within Star Avenue, a bustling commercial center in the Binjiang district, the Hangzhou Zhongshuge greets visitors with a rather simple glass facade. The transparent glass is covered with text and reveals a pure white space inside the store. Once inside, impressive circular pillars are found throughout the lobby, each ascending up to the mirrored ceiling. Bookshelves are integrated into every pillar. A doorway takes visitors out of this surreal white space and brings them into the main hall. The main hall is a quiet reading corridor, and the walls consist of dark wooden bookshelves that extend down the hallway. This area has the identical mirrored ceiling as the previous area, but rather than bright florescent white lights, amber-colored chandeliers hang overhead and provides a soothing glow through the hall. Further down the hall is the main study, a breathtaking oval room where the stairs double as bookshelves and the same mirrored ceiling overhead doubles the size of the already astonishing room. This space allows visitors to rest on the shelved steps and read. Strips of light beneath the shelves and bulbs overhead illuminate the space, but individual lamps are also situated throughout the room next to padded cushions, offering readers a comfortable reading experience.
For the Yangzhou Zhongshuge location, their design revolves around the concept of water and how it is considered as the “cradle of everything, and the breeding ground of culture”. Upon entering, visitors will find themselves in a tunnel with a black reflective ground and bookshelves that curve upwards into a beautiful arc. But instead of the two sides meeting on the ceiling, a zig-zag shaped lightning bolt cuts through overhead; it reflects on the ground and forms a flowing river that beckons visitors to follow it deeper into the space. Venturing inwards, visitors will find themselves in the lobby and main reading room. These two spaces both use dramatic curving arches to support and connect one another, and these curving pillars and walls also form coves of books throughout the space. The recurring appearances of these arcs and curved arches in the space is meant to represent bridges over water, which is an analogy for bridging the minds of readers with the knowledge contained in books. Soft light illuminates the space and fills with it peaceful ambience, even this is a carefully thought-out design element that is meant to invoke images of a river sparkling in the sun.
Both of these bookstores also feature dedicated children’s reading rooms. The children’s rooms in both locations are vastly different from the rest of the store, but both give off an infectiously playful energy. The Hangzhou location is designed just like a playground, with the bookshelves emulating merry-go-rounds, hot air balloons, roller coasters, and even pirate ships. In the Yangzhou children’s room, the bookshelves are built like colorful, disassembled toy blocks. Countless stars twinkle overhead. Both locations are constructed to spark the imagination of children and adults alike.
Both of the new Zhongshuge locations are awe-inspiring spaces that are sure to captivate both readers and design lovers. The next time you are in Yangzhou or Hangzhou, be sure to make some time in your schedule and check them out!
Xingguang Avenue Pedestrian Street, Building 4-101
Binjiang District, Hangzhou
People’s Republic of China
492 Wenchang Middle Street
Guangling District, Yangzhou
People’s Republic of China