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Chinese bookstores: an unknown and extraordinary retail design

Chinese bookstores: an unknown and extraordinary retail design

From desire and longing to reality. China has been the dream corner for book lovers for years.

Several of the best bookstores in the world are in the Asian country, which has bet very strongly on this type of establishment. Cities in all the cardinal points of the most populated country in the world have been inaugurating, year after year, numerous futuristic libraries… but based on tradition and its history.


Amazing, incredible and unique. There are not enough adjectives to describe this frenzy in which retail design has a lot to say. The amalgamation of spectacular bookstore designs in China is unmatched in the world, nor is it sufficiently popular. These wonders are still great unknown to Westerners.

In the country of mountains, bamboo, legendary rivers and cities that grow by leaps and bounds, bookstores bring nature and mysticism to the city. Places that have not only ceased to be in danger of extinction, but have also become important meeting points where to debate, start reading, exchange ideas, socialize, etc.

Today, we bring you a selection of some of the best bookstores in China when it comes to design.


Dujiangyan Zhongshuge


X-Living is the king of bookstores in China. Her projects are the most acclaimed, and they never leave anyone indifferent.

The forms almost identical to an Escher painting in Chongqing Zhongshuge; the parallel realities of Chongqing Zhongshuge; and the straight lines to infinity of Ningbo Zhongshuge, have ended up being the prelude to the spectacular Dujiangyan Zhongshuge bookstore. An ancient and historical city in the land of the dragon, in which the design studio has created another true paradise for books and readers.

The building stands out for its cathedral character. It is a place full of vibrancy and undulating forms, with mirrored ceilings and tall arched bookshelves. Walnut-colored wooden shelves that reach up to the ceiling and are interspersed with columns and arches everywhere. Everything, in a kind of great labyrinth, immersed in a warm and intimate atmosphere, where the magic of reading is undeniable.

Although it houses 80,000 books, the designers have repeated the formula of simulating the presence of them using papier-mâché and painted panels, just like in the Tianjin Binhai library.

Where the tables of books look like boats placidly moored on the lake, in keeping with the history of this Chinese city, its children’s area also evokes a “wow”. It resembles an endless bamboo forest, with green and irregular shelves.

In short, it is the new place to be for the most bibliophiles in a place that seems to knock on the doors of the dream world.


© Copyright. Feng Shao



Lafayette Store Zhongshuge

The Beijing Zhongshuge bookstore is located in the Lafayette department store in the capital of China.

In its 1,110 square meters, the X + Living studio manages to connect several functional areas with different formats of space distribution. What is most striking are the arches, elements that look like portals to unknown dimensions.

With a futuristic aesthetic, the most curious thing about this library is that it is based on traditional Chinese houses, especially in its gardens. A window of dialogue between classical art and contemporary fashion.



© Copyright. Qingshan Wu



Chongqing Zhongshuge

The Shanghai X-Living studio devised a super-project in the world’s fastest growing demographically and economically city, Chongqing. Under the thousand and one lights and skyscrapers, one of the most striking bookstores in the world shines with its own light: Chongqing Zhongshuge.

This space is the perfect evolution of the most famous bookstores in the world, such as Shakespeare and Company in Paris, The Strand in New York or El Ateneo Grand Splendid in Buenos Aires. A place that, aesthetically, is much more impressive. 1,300 square meters of books ranging from the very floor to its mirrored ceilings, with scattered shelves shaped like lampshades.

The star dish of the house are its labyrinthine stairs that create a visual game typical of an Escher painting. Or even India’s famous stepping stone well, Chand Baori.

Hundreds of black tiles define a surreal space, with a strong visual impact, where the children’s, leisure and reading areas are perfectly combined. A magical world of books between stairs and mirrors.


© Copyright. Shao Feng



Yangzhou Zhongshuge

Again with the X + Living design team responsible for the project, the Yangzhou Zhongshuge bookstore is an amazing succession of books and shapes that emulate the effect of river water, reflecting the ceiling on the ground along a tunnel that there seems to be no end.

Its 1,000 square meters are clearly inspired by the places and bridges that are next to the water that runs through the mythical Yangtze. Through the arch bridge concept, rivers of books seem to flow on the floor and on the ceiling. The objective? Lead readers to dig deeper and learn much more. “Be water, my friend”, as the great Bruce Lee would say.



© Copyright. Shao Feng



M.I bookstore

In the bookstore of the Plaza Jinjue shopping center, the HMA Architects & Designers team adapted natural and simple materials to achieve a warm and exceptional environment for reading.

Starting with the large central book tower, which attracts the attention of all who come, the light and shadow effects of the sun help to dazzle everyone with its steel structure, the use of wood and the choice of neutral but powerful tones and colors.



© Copyright. Eiichi Kano



Hangzhou Zhongshuge

XL-MUSE surprised the world with this amazing bookstore located in Hangzhou.

Its design totally resembles a spaceship, as if it wanted to transport readers to new worlds. But what makes it something really special is its huge ovoid reading room, lined with dark-colored shelves and mirrored ceilings.



© Copyright. Shao Feng



Which of these Chinese bookstores did you like the most? Leave us your comment…

Without a doubt, each of them are an example of how retail design can create extraordinary spaces.


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