|Project Name||Fangsuo Bookstore||Posted in||Retail||Location||
8 Middle Section of Shamaojie, Chunxi Road
Jingjiang DistrictChengdu Sichuan Sheng
|Architecture Practice||Chu Chih-Kang Space Design||Area (sqm)||5508||Completed||2015|
Fangsuo Bookstore in Chengdu, Sichuan, is not just a bookstore. Designed by Taiwanese designer Chu Chih-Kang, it is also as a community meeting place and a temple-like space of contemplation. With these functions in mind, the store’s design was inspired by Buddhist temples and the scripture libraries that were once housed inside or underneath many of them, and which relate to the Mandarin Chinese concept of stored wisdom. For designer Chu, for whom the written word represents the collection of shared knowledge, a bookstore should not only be a gateway to this knowledge but a separate cosmos to house it. The store is thus located in the basement level of the site, completely shut off from the outside world. It is a cosmos of its own that the visitor is urged to explore.
The heart of the bookstore, a cavernous, double-height underground space is punctured with faceted, large concrete columns that mushroom towards the top, giving the impression of an underground quarry: a place to discover/extract knowledge. This impression is further enhanced by the lighting that is concentrated on the books both on the tables in the middle of the space and the bookcases along the perimeter. The result is glowing troves of books, and other artefacts, under a hovering shaded roof. The books themselves become the “buried treasure” that the visitor, who descended into this underground knowledge bunker, is looking for.
To enhance the idea of otherworldliness and the quest for wisdom, the store is entered through an escalator-cum-tunnel that transports the visitor from the openness of the ground level, through a sculpted meteorite-like enclosure, down to the store’s basement level; an almost claustrophobic experience that aims at cleansing the visitor’s visual as well as emotional palette enabling the space to be entered with an open mind.
The children’s book section, located in a secondary space, eschews the cave-like aesthetics found in the bookstore’s main hall through the use of an illuminated, white barrel roof. Although the concept of separation from the outside is maintained, this section is more playful and airy. With its porthole faux-windows, the airplane-like roof also alludes to the concept of exploration and discovery albeit from a different perspective.