Design Director: Li Xiang Design Company: X+Living (www.xl-muse.com) Photography: Shao Feng
At Zhongshuge, a bookstore and library in Yangzhou, China, the books go on forever. Or, at least, that’s what it looks like, thanks to some incredible architecture and optical-illusion wizardry. When you walk into Zhongshuge, you’re surrounded on all sides by an infinite tunnel of books. They fill the ceiling, walls, and floor, some even appearing to defy gravity. For book lovers, it’s a paradise like no other. (This Welsh town with more books than people might give it a run for its money, though.)
So how does this magical bookshop do it? Well, an architectural studio called X+Living designed the interior of Zhongshuge. The shelves are arranged in arc shapes, to create the tunnel-like appearance. The floor is covered with black mirrors, reflecting the shelves above and creating the illusion that the bookshelves continue down past the floor you’re standing on. And there you have it: the dizzying (yet awesome) illusion that the rows of books never end.
As it turns out, the store’s design has more significance than just a fun illusion. X+Living wanted to pay homage to the literary history of the city of Yangzhou. Yangzhou is full of canals and rivers, and many of China’s literary greats drew inspiration from the flowing water. (Speaking of canals, get a look at this amazing town where the streets are made of water.) X+Living, therefore, embraced this concept with Zhongshuge, and tried to create the feel of being immersed in a “river” of books. They accentuated that feeling with the zigzag shape on the ceiling, which, reflected on the floor, “flows” throughout the store like a river. (You think that‘s cool? This French store floor looks riddled with craters—but it’s completely flat.)
Once you’ve picked out a book from the seemingly infinite number, head into the equally beautiful reading room. It boasts enormous, spacious arched ceilings and many cozy places to sit and crack a book. Literary fanatics, are you ready to move in yet?
As if all that weren’t enough, Zhongshuge has an amazing space for children’s books as well. The children’s section is inviting and colorful, with a ceiling full of tiny lights just like stars. The bookshelves are shaped like houses, clouds, and even a hot air balloon.
And these three rooms are just scratching the surface of X+Living’s awesome bookstore designs. Zhongshuge has two sister stores, also designed by X+Living: one in Shanghai and one in Hangzhou. Here’s a sneak peek of the Hangzhou store, which is equally amazing.
Book your flight to China to experience these mind-boggling book-scapes in person! Or, if you’d rather stick around stateside, visit some of America’s most beautiful libraries.