Owner: Shanghai book, Sinan Books Branch
Developer: Shanghai Zhuzong Group Construction Development
Architectural design: Wutopia Lab
Interior design: Yuchen GUO
Furnishings: Shanghai shebao furniture
Photo credits: CreatAR Images
Building 25 is one of the many colonial buildings created in the 1920s and 1930s in the former French concession of Shanghai, in what was once called Rue Massenet. Until 1943 it was under the sovereignty of France and then the subject of a controversial initial building boom, the entire area has been redeveloped in recent years and now brings to mind the vaguely European atmosphere characterised by its elegant villas, small buildings in dark brick and by its tree-lined thoroughfares. Upon the invitation of Shanghai Century Publishing Group and Yongye Group, Wutopia Lab has transformed one of these buildings into a place of culture with unpredictable interiors.
More easily imagined only if associated with the strongly artistic approach that Wutopia Lab usually uses to spice up the architectural practice with the development of new worlds and of multi-coloured, symbolic, evocative magical realities. Thus, animated by the rhythm of curved lines and shapes, by cylindrical corridors, a chromatic scheme that ranges from forest green to the shades of salmon and by the textures of the parquet floors, Sinan Books has been designed as a guiding light along people’s learning path. Inspired by the body and mind of an individual, the space measuring 460 square metres – distributed on four levels that ideally correspond with the subconscious, the heart, the eyes and ears and higher than that, with the brain – is articulated like a human’s system of acquisition of knowledge while discovering the self and the world. Colour, closely related to emotions and feelings, will be perceived and experienced depending on the light of the day and the mental state of the user at a given time.
The entrance, located on the second floor, chromatically connects the exterior and interior through a red tunnel that, in the symbolic and expressive alphabet, leads to an attitude of openness. On this level there is a café, an area dedicated to literature books and a public, but quiet, living room. Various shades of green characterise the exposition spaces on the third floor, conveying tranquillity and a spirit of reflection, while the golden and shiny surfaces that introduce the reading room, transmitting a feeling of optimism and liveliness, are surprising. On the fourth floor the “writer’s studio” represents the “thoughts” of the bookstore and is conceived as a place of conversation and debate: the spaces in white and black should therefore be conducive to the exchange of thoughts and ideas. On the terrace, white marble creates a light and ethereal surface under which textures of history and layers of knowledge rest. The basement level, conceived as the subconscious of the bookstore, contains the volumes of history and philosophy organised in a labyrinth of shelves that are positioned to offer the public secluded corners for reading. On the western side of the maze there is a special selection of the London Review of Books, Sinan Books’ sister bookstore, while on the eastern side a large study room hosts a central table that displays design objects. Finally, two very intimate reading rooms have been created in the spaces underneath the two staircases.