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10,000 Meters of Shelving and a New Aluminum Facade for the Renovated Shanghai Book City

Renovation of Shanghai Book City / Wutopia Lab

Wutopia Lab has transformed Shanghai Book City into a captivating cultural hub by renovating the building and adorning it with perforated metal sheets. The facade, covered in sawtooth-arranged aluminum panels, resembles a row of books with their spines facing outwards. As light passes through the holes, a mesmerizing twinkling effect is created, setting the bookstore apart from its neighboring structures on Fuzhou Road.

Renovation of Shanghai Book City / Wutopia Lab

This innovative design not only aims to reinvigorate the surrounding streets but also encourages visitors to indulge in the joy of reading, detaching themselves from electronic devices. With 10,000 meters of shelving, Shanghai Book City is a haven for book lovers and a remarkable public landmark in the heart of Shanghai, China.

Renovation of Shanghai Book City / Wutopia Lab

“The perforated aluminium facade pattern is based on a bird’s eye view of Shanghai at night, including the Huangpu district, the Bund, the Huangpu River and the Pudong district,” project architect Chen Lin told urdesign. “The stars and dots are abstract pixels representing the lights in each household.”

Renovation of Shanghai Book City / Wutopia Lab

The bookstore’s interior has been ingeniously designed to harness the expansive scale of the existing building. It is conceived as a “city within a city,” featuring bookshelf-lined “streets” and 16 distinct commercial areas. These commercial zones encompass a diverse range of offerings, including an art gallery, a theatre, a cafe, writer’s studios, wellness classrooms, and offices. The primary objective is to enhance the store’s offerings and attract a wider clientele, all while maintaining the unique and inviting atmosphere inside.

Renovation of Shanghai Book City / Wutopia Lab

The interior space is characterized by the presence of bookshelf-lined “streets,” which create a captivating ambiance. Lin, the visionary behind this concept, describes it as a translation of urban space from indoors to outdoors. The aim is to establish a vertical city that incorporates squares, streets, and “book houses” of varying sizes. As readers navigate through these streets and “houses within houses,” they are surrounded by books that serve as the facades, resulting in a mesmerizing sea of literature.

Renovation of Shanghai Book City / Wutopia Lab

To seamlessly integrate with the surrounding environment, the entrance area of Shanghai Book City seamlessly blends into the street. This creates a covered zone that functions as a public square, enticing visitors to explore the store. Additionally, a stepped volume known as Book Mountain is strategically positioned just inside the doors. This multifunctional space combines a platform, shelving, and seating, making it ideal for hosting events such as book launches or providing a comfortable spot for casual browsing.

Renovation of Shanghai Book City / Wutopia Lab

The building’s central structure is characterized by three vertically arranged double-height atriums, each adorned with expansive shelves that span from the floor to the ceiling. These atriums are designed with glass floors, enabling the penetration of natural light deep into the spaces. Additionally, the bookcases feature interior windows, strategically placed to enhance the illumination of the adjacent rooms.

Originally constructed in 1998, the Shanghai Book City underwent a two-year closure and was reopened in October 2023. This seven-storey establishment stands as a testament to its enduring legacy in promoting literary culture.

Image courtesy of CreatAR Images