the ladder of wisdom
located in qianhai oct, shenzhen, china, a surreal bookstore designed by x+living invites visitors to wander through history and time. a huge spiral staircase functioning as a bookshelf takes over ‘shenzhen zhongshuge’ store. lying on its side on the ground, it runs in a curved trajectory through the entire area, connecting the entrance and exit. the design is inspired by the achievements and history of the city, and the store is designed to pay tribute to the creators of history on this land.
‘when I received the design assignment for zhongshuge in shenzhen last year, I had led the designs for several completed zhongshuge across china. in the process of researching the cultural background of this city, I realized that I could design a space which could become a symbol of shenzhen itself as an inclusive and vibrant city of migrants, paying tribute to all those who have struggled to make history in this city. thus, this retail space, which seems to have grown out of a giant art installation, was born. straddling the earth and sky, it is examined as an otherworldly presence that creates a subtle experience of unease mixed with familiarity, making the space a proposition posing silent questions to the viewers,’ li xiang, studio’s creative designer.all images courtesy of x+living
a sacred temple of knowledge
the shanghai-based architectural design firm has taken the symbolism of the ladder of wisdom and integrated the elegant bookshelves into a towering staircase, creating a sacred temple of knowledge. ‘shenzhen zhongshuge’ features a concept area, a forum, a children’s reading and a conference area. the concept area is located at the corner of the building, with a large glass façade that breaks the spatial barrier between the interior and exterior, enhancing the expansiveness of the space.
the soft lighting creates a warm atmosphere throughout the interior. the levitating tables bring the reader some fantastical imagery and feelings. the surreal character is enhanced by the flooring covered by reflective black tiles, giving the feeling that the installation floats on a peaceful lake. the warm and bright orange and the hazy and elegant blue collide and harmonize, filling the space with dreamy colors.
time seems to become tangible in x+living’s bookstore
gazing the spiral staircase from a specific perspective, the massive installation appears as a clock dial. the handrails in the form of clock hand allude to the fact that this is a ladder of history that has been built up over countless hours, conveying the sense ‘that history is being pushed through time at a rapid pace’. the space is also appropriately divided to create a more exclusive spatial pattern, providing the reader with an intimate reading experience. the spiral staircase serves as a functional bookshelf and also a huge artistic installation, neutralizing a strong commercial connotation and enhancing the charm of the place.
the large floor-to-ceiling opening allows for unobstructed views of the interior, stimulating passers-by curiosity. shenzhen zhongshuge is not only a place of tribute to the city’s pioneers but also a place of healing for learning knowledge and seeking wisdom. it is one of the countless tiny microcosms of shenzhen, housing unease and immensity. the designer fuses commerce and art avoiding conventional bookstore designs, providing customers a new shopping experience. see more mesmerizing bookstore projects by x+living in our previous articles (here and here).