This Otherworldly Bookstore in China Provides a Mesmerizing Atmosphere For Reading

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By Gabrielle Golenda / Published by Dwell
This bookshop in Hangzhou, China, features an interior that provides a variety of unique and immersive environments for reading and shopping.

Located within the bustling commercial center of Star Avenue in the Binjiang district, Zhongshuge-Hangzhou Bookstore is outfitted with an impressive collection of reading materials that are displayed within a set of interconnected rooms. Shanghai-based studio XL-Muse designed the space, which first opens up onto the forest-like gallery composed of a series of vertical circular shelves that hold numerous titles. Throughout the space, the ceiling is covered with mirrors that elongate the tree-like columns. These design elements express the idea that libraries represent—that is, the growing and expanding of knowledge that literature promotes. 

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At the core of the institution lies ‘Zhongshuge’ Hall, a theater-like reading area with grandiose bookshelves that encircle a cathedral-like area. This is entered through a long corridor containing light- and dark-colored wooden shelves on either sides of the walls. Exquisite vertical chandeliers float from the ceiling, where light refracts from mirrors above, creating a soft ambient interior. 

Conversely, the children’s pavilion offers an educational atmosphere. The playground for learning is equipped with a static merry-go-round, a galaxy map floor, and a roller-coaster-shaped book shelf. Together, all of these elements help teach and inspire young children in a fun and playful fashion.

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The resulting effect is quite magical. The mirrored panels that cover the ceiling and the wall lining the far side of the space create the illusion that the columns are twice their actual height. These reflections appear dense and layered, so the entire room appears much deeper than it actually is, like a vast forest of books.

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