Shanghai studio X+Living, previously named XL-Muse, has recently completed the Zhongshuge bookstore in Shanghai Réel Mall. Background of a busy city is always the randomly standing neon lights. Hurried pedestrians cross the street from one side to the other, from one block to another block by passing through the street.When viewing from above, you could see people come and go, the streets are crowded with pedestrians and vehicles, only the zebra crossings stand still to offer convoy and guidance. Réel Mall is at such a street corner filled with traveling and short stay, which is located at the centre of Shanghai – Jing’an district, and Zhongshuge is at the end of the 4th floor of Réel Mall.
Come to the 4th floor by taking a lift and look further into this space, you might see the glass curtain wall with subtitles of Zhongshuge. It is dimly visible that the clean and neat white and grey colors fade softly into each other harmoniously; and quiet halo comes out through the gaps of the subtitle curtain wall. Walk closer and then walk into it. You would find out that the story Zhongshugeis going to tell is somehow related to zebra crossing. This is the feeling that this Zhongshuge store wants to express, and this is a microcosm of busy Shanghai.
The plain concrete represents the color of the city road, and white book tables stand still on the road in an orderly manner. On the floor, there are painted white zebra crossings linking to the book tables, which give clear guidance to the path between book tables. On the wall, it is fully covered with white circular tubes. Each of the white circular tubes spread over the wall could retract into or stretch out of the wall freely, in this way, different array patterns could be formed with such flexibility. While this flexible design acts as book shelves, it also reflects the quick changed social status quo. Here, readers enter into a city space where there is no heavy traffic, but only quiet “roads and zebra crossings” and mountains of books on the books tables. Zebra crossing is like books that accompany our growth. Get the correct guidance at the right time. The spiritual connection between books and readers is thus expressed.
What connects to this space is a long corridor for leisure reading, where there is a long row of park benches. The book shelves are placed at the two sides of the corridor, and there is a street lamp at a regular distance from one another. This is not only a reading corridor but also an interior reading park. Walking slowly in the world of books, when you get tired, you could sit on the chairs under the street lights and relax your mind by reading your favorite books- this is the reading environment that this space intended to create for readers.
Walking through the quiet park of books you will arrive at the castle of books in the sky. A winding path gets through the 4 architecture-like book shelves which are built with shelves, bringing the reader with an experience of walking through a real city of books. Along the path, you will notice that exterior walls of every “house” are built with book shelves, and on the wall there are big windows through which the interior of the “house” could be seen. From the inside of the “house” you will find out that the “houses” are book libraries with different themes of culture and art.
The interior area of the 4 “houses” are very different, the small one is like a quiet study while the big one could hold a small reading party. Here, the designer builds a city with books. Different from the outside bustling streets, this place is a spiritual world where readers could communicate with authors quietly through the books. The width of the path between book shelves is changing, and on this winding path you can see zebra crossings, you may dimly feel that you were walking in the centuries-old Shanghai streets where you can feel the romance and mood of Shanghai.
The world of mortals is a temptation that everyone could not escape from. Shanghai, in particular, a “top-ranked romantic and rich place within the world of mortals”, is saturated with far more desires and helplessness. Thus people who struggle within this world of mortals always long for a quiet place where their body and mind could be set free! Zhongshuge (Réel Mall) uses the concept of zebra crossing to penetrate and lead the plot of the story, which expresses the idea that under the busy and impetuous pace of city, books, being a companion to life, is acting as association between all kinds of functions of the city and our life; and that books give convoy and guidance to our growth just like what zebra crossing does!
all images © Shao Feng