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See a Stunningly Surreal Bookstore in China

beijingwalker

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See a Stunningly Surreal Bookstore in China
Dujiangyan Zhongshu features gravity-defying staircases and infinite bookshelves
By Isis Davis-Marks

A recently opened bookstore in southwest China looks like it came straight out of one of Dutch artist M.C. Escher’s fever dreams.

Located west of Chengdu in the Sichuan province, Dujiangyan Zhongshuge boasts spiraling staircases, curved archways and strategically placed mirrors; these architectural features work in tandem to create the illusion of an impossible space similar to the one depicted in Escher’s gravity-defying Relativity (1953).

Architect Li Xiang, founder of Shanghai-based firm X+Living, designed the roughly 10,500-square-foot bookshop, which draws inspiration from the Unesco World Heritage–listed Dujiangyan irrigation system. Certain architectural elements resemble water, nodding to the many rivers that flow through the city.

“We moved the local landscape into the indoor space,” Li tells Architectural Digest’s Elizabeth Stamp. “The project is located in Dujiangyan, which is a city with a long history of water conservancy development, so in the main area, you [can] see the construction of the dam integrated into the bookshelves.”

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View of spiral staircases (X+Living)
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View of mirrored ceiling (X+Living)


According to a statement, the Dujiangyan store—much like Zhongshuge’s other locations—uses a mirrored ceiling to simulate a sense of limitless openness. Book-laden, ceiling-high shelves echo the curves of nature, while glossy, black-tile flooring makes reading tables scattered across the space resemble boats moored on a lake.

Visitors walking through the labyrinth-like store will find areas designed to fulfill different purposes. The children’s reading room, for instance, is replete with panda posters, bamboo bookshelves and colorful cushions.


As Li notes on Instagram, the tomes placed on the bookshelves’ highest levels are purely decorative. But all books within readers’ reach—some 80,000 volumes spanning more than 20,000 categories—are “readable,” she adds.

This isn’t X+Living’s first foray into the book world: The firm has previously created Zhongshuge branches in Guangzhou, Yangzhou, Minhang and Chongqing, among other locations across China.

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Cliftonite

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Impressive.

There's a 19th century theatre turned into a library in Buenos Aires. This is giving me those vibes.
 

FCPX

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Probably the most amazing bookstore i've ever seen. Stunning!
 

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