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Hangzhou Zhongshuge Bookstore

The impressive collection of reading material is displayed within a set of rooms designed by architecture studio XL-MUSE. The ceiling uses a mirror to elongate these tree-like columns, which aim to metaphorically express the idea of knowledge, that grows and expands through literature.  The Zhongshuge-Hangzhou Bookstore opened in 2016, with an estimated 20,000 people visiting the store on opening day.

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© Shao Feng

“Zhongsuhge-Hangzhou store is located within the bustling commercial center of Star Avenue, Binjiang District, adjacent to Qiantang River. Walking from Star Avenue Phase I to the forest gallery of Phase II, you can see the wholly transparent glass curtain wall fully covered with texts. Looking through the glass curtain, a pure white space consisting of circular bookshelf pillars escape the shackles of the surrounding environment. These white pillars carrying books rise up straight to the sky. Under the reflection of ceiling mirror, they seem to have a conversation beyond time. Additionally, the wall mirror doubles the transverse dimension to enable the whole book spaces to seem unbounded as the real nature. Upon exposure to the forest of books,

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© Shao Feng

we intend to acknowledge readers the awareness of knowledge as indispensable as oxygen from trees in our lives. These tree-like pillars stand tall, and emit the light of knowledge to indulge every soul comes here. The ceiling is decorated with small lights that are dancing joyfully as the elves guarding the forest. The ground-stationed desks are mingled with the forest, flexibly as creek to allow people to read by sitting on or standing beside. Tirelessly, they help us to acquire the strength granted by the texts.” – Li Xiang / XL-MUSE

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© Shao Feng

The unique store uses clever shelving and carefully placed mirrors to create mind-bending optical illusions. Like something out of the mind of Lewis Carroll, shelves cascade into infinity, spaces are made huge and rooms appear to stretch out in absurd directions, disguising the store’s true proportions.

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© Shao Feng

The design also includes a children’s room in which shelves dip and rise like fairground rollercoasters, a peaceful reading room for respite from the reflective madness, and a forest of mirrors that makes picking up the latest John Grisham novel a stupefying challenge. Each of these rooms extend from a main hall, with entrances taking on the appearance of arcane rectangular portals to other worlds.

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© Shao Feng

Geometric seats, zig-zagging benches and sparse cushions atop shelves invite visitors to sit with a book, and lighting is mostly hidden – strip-lights tucked inside shelves – to prevent the store becoming a dazzling mess of JJ Abrams glare.

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© Shao Feng

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© Shao Feng


After years of growth, Hangzhou Zhongshuge is always adhering to its initial desire to emerge as the most beautiful bookstore for readers, and constantly strives to work on the most culturally artistic bookstore, from learning how to walk, to live, to brave and to persevere.

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© Shao Feng

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© Shao Feng

Walking on the central axis of the forest zone and walking through a doorway as guided by the lights to the border of light and shade, one transits from the lightness to the profound main hall of Zhongshuge – an oncoming quiet reading corridor.

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© Shao Feng

Here, the entire bookshelf extends endlessly to the side. The darker and lighter-coloured shelves are orderly advanced or retreated, as changing mountains or unattainable ladders or fortitude upright spines to silently convey the power of knowledge to us. The chandeliers floating in the ceiling mirror softens the entire space like a firefly. People under the lights, recollect the aromatic coffee or mediate in the world of books.

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© Shao Feng

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© Shao Feng

Cross the corridor is the stair reading area. The circular skylight pours down from the ceiling mirror, and the encircling bookshelves look like the swirling lamp belt. Here is a theatre to unfold an outstanding drama, and the characters are book lovers sitting on the soft couch or standing beside the bookshelves. In the stair study, people can read or hold the reading party for book lovers to site around.

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© Shao Feng

In the Hangzhou Zhongshuge, there is a children pavilion, which is a book playground. The designer arts bookshelves as playground facilities including merry-go-round, roller coaster, hot air balloons and pirate ships to give children a happy reading experience as if playing in the playground, while the floor of galaxy maps not only inspires the imagination of children and also interestingly educates them about the knowledge of galaxy.

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© Shao Feng

The famous British novelist Somerset Maugham once said, to acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life. Hangzhou store of Zhongshuge blends the definitions of books into every space by upholding the usual respect for books and knowledge, and infuses the minds of readers with the sacred books by way of design. In today’s distracting and harassing context, you still can find a place to rest your soul.

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© Shao Feng

Project Data:

Project name: Hangzhou Zhongshuge
Location: Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China
Coordinates: n/a
Type: Store / Shop / Showroom / Retail
Site area: n/a
Project area: 1,000 sqm
Design Period: August 2015 – October 2015
Construction Period: October 2015 – April 2016
Status: Completed
Completion: 2016


  • 2016 – Interior Design Magazine Award – Best of Year Awards – Category: Retail / Bookstore – Winner

The people:

Client / Owner / Developer: Shanghai Zhongshu Industry Company Ltd

  • XL-MUSE – Room 306, No 140 tianlin Road, SURPASS SPACE Shanghai, China

Design Director: Li Xiang

Project Team:

  • Liu Huan, Fan Chen, Zhang Xiao, Tong Nina

Text Description: © Courtesy of XL-MUSE
Images: © XL-MUSE, Shao Feng



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