Architectural firm Wutopia Lab opens the doors to a space which embodies a magic realism

FEB 27, 2019 | By Meenakshi Shankar
CLOCKWISE, FROM LEFT The free-flowing bookshelf outlined by a curve has a total of 10 levels; A pillarless white curvy staircase, highlighted by a spiral white panel, surrounded by custom made white acrylic walls, encourages the reader to enter the bookstore created in a surreal design.

Shanghai based Wutopia Lab’s latest design for a bookstore in Xi’an, one of the most ancient cities of China, holds the promise of unleashing an unparalleled space. Founder and architect, YU Ting, says, “My architectural practice reiterates our everyday life through immense imagination and dramatic artistic expressions. Transforming reality into ‘magic reality’ and creating an illusion that uncovers bits of truths in our life, the Zhongshu Bookstore pays tribute and performs a white Divine Comedy to the capital of thirteen dynasties — Xi’an.” The basic space of the bookstore consists of popular book recommendation and public reading areas. However, moving away from the ordinary, the idea to create a reading paradise over the ‘clouds’ where light and free space are show stopping elements, started to take shape. Challenging the use of traditional materials, the design firm brought in 5 mm thick steel plates to customize curved bookshelves.Digital concepts and cutting edge technology came into play to craft a canvas where each steel plate was optimized through programming, processed by CNC machine tools, and then assembled on site according to the numbering. The architect adds, “Moving away from a design which allowed for direct entry into the bookstore, a glittering entrance was created in the commercial space.” The futuristic design element of a pillarless, white, curvy staircase creates a surreal effect akin to floating in a cloud. The Zhongshu Bookstore represents the great urban revival that Xi’an is currently experiencing.