Wutopia Lab has recently completed Sinan books poetry store with the concept of ‘Church in church’, using 45 tons of steel in the historic site of St. Nicholas Church in Shanghai. As the largest professional poetry bookstore in Shanghai, it offers 1000 poetry books in different languages. A continuation of Wutopia Lab’s design style, magical realism based on antithesis, perforated steel plates, translucent, uncertain light, color and dramatic poetry could be found in the poetry store.
The former Orthodox church at Langao Road 16 is the second batch of outstanding historical buildings in Shanghai. It was built in 1932 and was not used as a church for a long time. In the past few decades, it was an office, factory, warehouse, canteen, residential place, and later became a club, restaurant, and finally was in a waste. When Wutopia Lab approached the project, the church was in disrepair, and with the city’s historic building protection, the existing façade, structural system, basic floor plan and distinctive interior decoration had to be retained.
Due to these regulations, the design by Wutopia Lab places a contemporary insertion inside the existing building fabric, carefully revealing the church’s original features. After spending time sanding down and clean the original materials, elements, such pillars, floral decorations, walls, and flooring were given new life.
“I believe that the poetry bookstore should be the sacred space of the city of Shanghai. It should have an independent spirituality and should not be based on the religion of the old site. Given the fact that the dome could not be transformed, I used bookshelf to create a new structure as a Church in the old building Church. This is Church in church, a sanctuary for modern people was born in where once a sanctuary of faith,” explains Wutopia Lab.
The steel bookstore utilized a total of 45 tons of steel and was built by 30 workers in 80 days. Workers must first cut 5mm steel plates into 128 standpipes, 640 large steel plates and 2921 small steel plates for 23 layers of crossbars according to the drawings. After pre-assembled correctly outdoor, the pieces were moved inside and welded together. Finally, this bookstore of 388 square meters and a height of 9.9 meters was methodically formed left a 50 cm gap from the old wall.
In the silver bookstore, a balcony was transformed into a golden pulpit. Here you can see how the steel bookstore and the old masonry church are interwoven without touch each other.