Shanghai-based Wutopia Lab renovates and transforms the Shanghai Book City in order to create a bookstore attractive enough with various amenities and activities to entice potential book lovers to step into a physical bookstore to make them read and purchase the book rather them using online devices.
The redesign of Shanghai Book City – with its perforated aluminum façade, its plaza-like glazed entrance, and its very impressive interiors – has already garnered raves (online, of course) including by the city itself.
“The bookstore is becoming a cultural landmark with a smart green concept, and is a successful case of urban renewal,” reads the municipal government’s website.
Clients are immediately immersed in what the architects have called the Book Mountain, a bold-red shelving system and stage that can be used for book launches, exhibitions, and other events.
The red Book Mountain becomes the first focal point in the pedestrian’s line of sight.
From here, one can transition through escalators into the bookstore, which functions as a vertical city.
Zigzagging escalators and double-height atria also carve out their niches: the square, the auditorium, and the theatre, respectively.
Contrasting the glass floors, warm-timber bookshelves that soar to the ceilings and cut-away views across rooms evoke an Escher-like, labyrinthine sensation.
Levels two to six house the reading area, the first and seventh floors serve as storage areas, and the eighth floor is dedicated to storage and cover displays.
Wrapped in 10,000-metre-long bookshelves and accommodating approximately 470,000 books, it appears as a continuous façade.
Outside of this wall are commercial enterprises ranging from tea houses to galleries and a gift shop to an art furniture store.
“I have no fear of commerce, and my requirements for shop owners are akin to those established in ancient cities – they must respect the continuous façade of books in my city,” says Ting Yu.
“This ensures that different businesses are embedded in my city. This is what it means to build a city with books.”
In this upgrade and renovation, the bookstore, built in 1998, needs to undergo inspection according to the latest fire safety regulations.
Therefore, it is necessary to increase the number, width, and location of evacuation stairs and upgrade by adding sprinklers and fire curtains. In this upgrade and renovation, the structural changes cannot exceed 10% of the total structure.
The original external outline of the bookstore cannot be altered.
The 12,000 square meters bookstore cannot increase its area, and, of course, the owner is not allowed to reduce the area.
However, the original basement no longer belongs to the bookstore. In this upgrade and renovation, it is necessary to introduce commercial formats that harmonize with the bookstore and do not disrupt the bookstore’s atmosphere.
Simultaneously, it is crucial not to compromise the bookstore’s ambiance while balancing operational costs.
The Shanghai Book City aims, through this upgrade and renovation, not only to ensure operational efficiency but also to continue being a cultural landmark in Shanghai, contributing to the revival of Fuzhou Road as a cultural street.
Project: Shanghai Book City
Architects: Wutopia Lab
Design Team: Peng Li, Zixiang Feng, Haoran Zhang, Qiuyan Wang, Yanyan Feng, Danman Zhang, Lei Wang, and Zijie Xu
Lighting Consultants: Chenlu Zhang and Shiyu Wei
Client: Shanghai Book City
Photographers: CreatAR Images