Yang Yang and his design team at y.ad studio embedded a new circular bookstore into the space of two atriums for a commercial building located at the intersection of Bohai Road and Yanshan Street in Renqiu City, China.
The building where the bookstore is set has 24 floors in total, with 1F-5F serving as a mall, 6F-18F occupied by a hotel, and the remaining floors above used as workspaces.
The occupancy rate and operation of the hotel have been satisfactory, but the performance of the commercial space beneath was poor.
The client was unsure about how to transform such a commercial space; however, the architects saw the company’s determination in making a holistic adjustment and change to reactivate the entire mall and show the market a brand-new image.
After several meetings, Yang and his team thoroughly analyzed the existing business types such as retail, catering, and recreation in the mall, and decided to remove the floors and business formats that were not performing well while inserting new types of business into it.
On the other hand, those commercial forms that are performing well such as catering were retained or slightly renewed.
The client hoped to reshape the space with minimum investment and cost.
The first time the architects came to the site, the environment was a bit chaotic but the spatial conditions were impressive.
Especially, the high daylighting atriums gave us a lot of room for imagination. Therefore, we decided to make use of the atrium spaces to re-imagine this commercial space.
Firstly, Yang linked up the first and second floors through different levels of stairs, hence forming a vertical circulation route to walk around and explore between both atriums while creating rich, playful visual effects and experiences within the limited space.
At the same time, he reorganized the circulation route of the entire mall to enhance its accessibility and functionality.
The second floor was originally a children’s playground, which was redesigned and upgraded on the premise of retaining its original entertainment functions.
For floors three and four, the catering space, which had been performing well, was retained.
The banquet hall on the fifth was reserved as well.
However, there was no escalator directly connecting the fourth and the fifth floors, which could be merely reached by fire emergency stairs.
This could easily cause congestion when crowds gather during a banquet, so the client asked for a direct vertical route that can lead to floor five.
Based on the analysis, the architects decided to add an aerial staircase above the atrium.
It perfectly solved the problem, at the same time enhanced the sense of layering and structure of the space.
With regard to the idea of inserting a bookstore into the atriums as the core of the mall, there were different opinions among parties involved in the project at the beginning.
The common consensus was that bookstores were hardly profitable and there were certain operational risks after investing a lot into them.
However, Yang thought that the bookstore should not only be viewed from the perspective of profitability, as it can have certain spiritual and cultural attributes.
This bookstore can even be an extension of a city or a community and become a space that carries the memory of the local people.
From a commercial point of view, the architects believe that it could also create possibilities for inserting new business types into the mall as well as divert customer flow to its surrounding commercial spaces, hence enhancing the integration, relevance, and cultural ambiance of the entire mall.
Since the whole shopping mall is a private-owned property owned by the client, the significance of the bookstore should not merely be measured by its profitability of itself, but also by the coordination and balance of the overall commercial layout of the mall.
After several rounds of discussions, the client decided to allocate two of the daylighting atrium spaces for the bookstore.
The architects took the bookstore as the core of the first-floor space and linked up the lobby bar, cafeteria, children’s reading area, multifunctional exhibition hall, new-style Chinese restaurants, and other related types of business in the mall.
Originally, the atriums and corridors were in an open state, but considering that the newly inserted bookstore requires a quiet atmosphere, the architects used polycarbonate panels to envelope the space to prevent interference from surrounding spaces.
Meanwhile, to avoid the oppressive feeling and sense of monotony caused by the isolation, they made some changes and adjustments to the form and segmentation of the envelope.
The atriums are topped with a perforated aluminum ceiling, which filters sunlight, hence enriching light and shadows as well as ambiance within the space.
From design scheme to construction, the project only took about 5 months and the mall subsequently reopened.
As the core of the mall, the new bookstore has gained great popularity among the citizens and provides perfect spaces for signing events, art exhibitions, and other activities.
The reuse and activation of the entire space have helped attract young consumers to the business types and spaces newly introduced into the mall.
Project: Yuanping Mejing Bookstore
Architects: y.ad studio
Design Team: Yan Yang, He Maofeng, Yan Yu, Tian Zhonglin, and Zheng Chuang
Client: Renqiu Yuanping Meijing Commercial Plaza Co., Ltd
Photographers: Peter Dixie (UK) and Lotan Architectural Photography