wutopia lab has designed ‘toyou bookstore‘ in the newly designed red-brick building by jean nouvel in huangpu district, china. based on traditional chinese garden-design techniques, the architects spatialize two abstract and symbolic mountains, ‘big you’ and ‘little you’, into the structure. the interior includes interlocking cave-like spaces that generate a rich spatial experience in a small place while blooming flowers, burgundy perforated panels and reading corners add a metaphorical touch.all images courtesy of creatAR images
opened to the public on may 1, and designed for the cifi group, wutopia lab‘s interior follows a simple and straightforward design; once visitors enter the door, they face the white ‘little you’ mountain. this structure takes shape as a book-shelf made of white artificial stone while light comes through it. the visible ‘little you’ mountain is a recommended area for new and fine books in the building.
wandering through the bookshelves and partitions, readers can go to the main space of the bookstore, which is actually the interior of the ‘big you’ mountain. the continuous burgundy perforated aluminum panels form the caves, and the bookshelves develop various corners and spaces to sit in. furthermore, the interior hides surprises and identical views at every step. ‘having a view every step of the way’ is a basic technique of traditional chinese garden design.
wutopia lab has hidden a series of metaphors in the interior of the bookstore; next to the ‘little mountain’, emerges the ‘well’ and ‘the dripping spring’ that draw from the old saying: ‘the mountain is not about its height, the water is not about its depth’. ‘the secret place’ takes shape as a circular space between the two mountains, serving as a private area. ‘like a jug, in which there is heaven and earth, mountains, rocks, pines, books, wine and the himself, a cave in the midst of shanghai’s glitz and glamour.’
client mr. lin from cifi group wanted to create a bookstore that showcases a lifestyle able to combine flowers, wine, tea, and carefully selected books. the main space of ‘big you’ mountain is divided into two zones, one is the reading area and the other is the living area dominated by long circular tables dubbed ‘living color’. yu ting, the main architect of wutopia lab, believes that bookstores should not only attract people who love books but also accept ordinary people who do not love reading. a bookstore should be a miniature cultural complex, a social and cultural place with strong attractions in the context of the internet-driven world. ‘the so-called immortal mountain, where flowers bloom in all four seasons, stands for knowledge, the only thing that passes on to a hundred generations’.
yu ting utilizes the bookstore as a tool to understand the city and its people, making a positive response to its culture. through the bookstore, a tiny world carefully created by the architect, while readers now have a shortcut to experience the wider world more directly. therefore, ‘toyou bookstore’ becomes a portal for readers or visitors to gain a deeper understanding of shanghai.