The Magical Land of Books Created by Xi + Living
Arched columns, winding stairways, mirrored ceilings, and books everywhere transports readers to a maze of mountains, trees, and rivers of ancient China.
Li Xiang, President/ Creative Director of X+Living Architecture seems to have an inexplicable link to bookstores. This must be the third bookstore she has designed in China and each of them seems to reflect the mysterious and magical world that books weave and her designs take off from this precedent. While the earlier bookstore, the Chongqing Zhongshuge Bookstore, had geometrically placed bookshelves, the latest bookstore in the city of Dujiangyan, in the southwest of China, the bookshelves followed an arc design.
Weaving stairways, columns, and even railings filled with books in all nooks and corners and mirrored ceilings reflecting these myriad staircases to make it all appear like a maze seem to her specialty.
The unique C-shape bookshelves with a natural walnut color follow a seemingly irregular sequence building the intimacy of the space and become a highlight in the front hall. The inspiration, according to the designer comes from the grey tiles which gives it a historical sense. The flooring is covered with reflective black tiles, making the book tables appear like floating boats on a quiet lake. The unique and lively arc shape divides the forum area. Walking through under the bookshelf is like walking alongside an outdoor eave, or stepping into a rolling mountain.
“Stepping into the reading space, one could perceive the scenery images different from traditional bookstores and the profound cultural heritage. The bookshelves extend from the space to the adjacent columns, and ingeniously catch the readers’ curiosity and guide their route,” says Li.
Walking through the winding way between the bookshelf walls, one reaches the children’s reading area where green bamboo elements are transformed into bookshelves. Decorated with panda illustrations, to generate a fun, eye-catching environment, with pandas hanging from bookshelves, it seems as if the reader is transformed into a new land where the characters of the books come alive. Colorful cushions are stacked forming small mounds to create a cozy, dreamy, reading atmosphere for the children.
The bookstore is completely filled with books, from the pillars to the supports, from the ground reaching up to the ceiling, around corners, and on walls, making the entire process within the store dream-like. And this is the USP of the architect, to create spaces that take us within its confines and pushes us onto a mystical world as the architect creates, pushing our minds to image and be a part of the space she has created.
“The whole architectural structure aims to portray the dynamic aesthetics of climate changes, whether it’s rainy, windy, or foggy. The beautiful scenery of Dujiangyan is vividly present within the bookstore creating whole indoor scenery, introducing the magnificent spirit of mountains and rivers and presenting readers with an elegant and powerful artistic landscape that expresses awe to nature through books,” explains the designer.