Late last year, the 88-year-old St Nicholas Church was refurbished by Shanghai-based architecture firm Wutopia Labs. While the building wasn’t a church for long and has seen use as an office, residence and canteen, it takes more than a little derring-do to construct a poetry library within a historical site.
With a combination of 30 workers, 80 days and a whole lot of steel plates, the former church was transformed into a bookshop that’s home to more than a thousand books. “Book shops, once dying because of singularity are being revived because of diversity,” says Yu Ting, chief architect of Wutopia Labs
Metal Rainbow Bookshop in Suzhou, China
Divided into four main zones, each depicting a different theme, the Metal Rainbow, also by Wutopia Labs, aims to create a colourful world using symbolism. Pictured above is the Sanctuary of Crystals housing the latest arrivals, showcased on transparent acrylic shelves. This is also the first room that visitors will see when they first enter the bookshop.
Guiyang Zhongshuge Bookstore in Guiyang, China
Great architecture may be a joy to look at (and make for incredible Instagram shots), but creating genuinely inspiring bookshops that are worth a second or third visit requires a truly creative mind. To that end, we speak to X+Living’s founder Li Xiang, another Chinese architect making waves in the country’s burgeoning bookshop scene.
Her project in Guiyang for a popular Chinese chain, Zhongshuge, is all about muted elegance and an endless array of books invitingly reflected in the polished floors and ceilings.“That is just like the vision that Zhongshuge has always upheld: 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,” says X+Living architect, Li Xiang.
Underground Forest at Onepark Gubei in Shanghai, China
The design of the bookshop, both aesthetically and functionally, creates the organic social situations that set cultural complexes apart from erstwhile bookshops. Eye-catching, geometric and avant-garde come to mind for Underground Forest, a neighbourhood centre with conference and reading rooms, a massive library, an art gallery and an audio-visual room in Onepark Gubei, an upmarket district. The architect? Wutopia Labs, of course.