Revitalizing Shanghai Book City: A Literary Oasis for All

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Project Highlights

Project Name: Renovation of Shanghai Book City
Construction Unit: Shanghai Xinhua Media Co., Ltd.
Owner Team: LI Pengcheng, YIN Yixin, XU Saigang, ZhU Qi, DONG Jie

Design Firm: Wutopia Lab
Principal Architect: YU Ting
Early Project Manager: PU Shengrui
Late Project Manager: LI Hao
Project Architects: LV Jie, LIN Chen
Design Team: LI Peng, FENG Zixiang, ZHANG Haoran, WANG Qiuyan, FENG Yanyan, ZHANG Danman, WANG Lei, XU Zijie
Design Consultation: MEEM HOUSE
Lighting Consultant: ZHANG Chenlu, WEI Shiyu
Landscape Consultant: YUAN Yuan
Material Consultant: DING Ding, SUN Jing

Construction Drawing Design: Shanghai Sanyi Architectural Design Co., Ltd.
General Project Manager: GAO Dong
Architecture: ZHU Yumei, YE Xia, ZHANG Yu
Structure: HU Wenxiao
Mechanical and Electrical: MAO Yaqian, WANG Yiqin, XU Zhifeng, LIU Ning, YE Lin, SHI Jiaying
Interior: YU Bing, SHEN Rui, ZHANG Fang, YANG Yang
Landscape Design: ZHENG Zhicheng, WANG Can, GUO Yuqi, ZHANG Jin

Facade Detailing Unit: Shanghai Jieyu Architectural Design Co., Ltd.
Facade Design: SU Xi, YE Kun
Soft Decoration Design: Jia Rui Architectural Design (Shanghai) Co., Ltd.
Soft Decoration Supplier: Suzhou Comfortable Furniture Co., Ltd.
Signage Unit: Shanghai Saichi Sign Design Engineering Co., Ltd.
Signage Supplier: Tanwai (Shanghai) Cultural Communication Co., Ltd.
Construction Unit: Shanghai Construction Fifth Building Group Co., Ltd.

Photography: CreatAR Images

Shanghai Book City, a beloved institution since 1998, faced closure rumors at the end of 2021, leading to a surge in visitors reminiscing about its past glory. However, the challenge lay not in preserving the romanticized memories but in reimagining the space for a new era. Architect Wutopia Lab embarked on a journey to revitalize the bookstore, aiming to transform it into a cultural complex that echoes the vibrant spirit of Shanghai.

Challenges and Solutions

Designing for Diversity

Addressing the decline in readership, the renovation focused on attracting non-readers. By allocating space for various applied businesses and social scenes, the new Shanghai Book City aims to engage a broader audience.

Preserving the Past, Embracing the Future

Confronting the challenge of distorted collective memory, the architect emphasized the need to evolve while preserving the bookstore’s historical essence. The vision involves transforming from a mere bookstore into a dynamic cultural hub centered around knowledge sharing.

Building a New City with Books

Upgrading Infrastructure

Navigating through regulations, the upgrade focused on fire safety measures and structural changes within a 10% limit. Commercial formats harmonizing with the bookstore were introduced, ensuring operational efficiency without compromising ambiance.

Creating a Cultural Square

Seizing the opportunity, the ground floor was transformed into a semi-open public square, reconnecting Fuzhou Road with citizens. The ‘Book Mountain’ emerged as a versatile platform for events, book launches, and cultural activities.

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Innovative Design Elements

Subheading 5: Let There Be Light

To counter the darkness on higher floors, three double-height atriums were designed, bringing natural light to the heart of the ‘Book Mountain’ and unfolding an urban space vertically.

Bookshelves as Façade

Utilizing a 10,000-meter-long bookshelf as the building’s façade, the architect created a continuous display of books along the street front. The shelves conceal ‘houses within houses’ housing various facilities and businesses.

Inclusivity and Accessibility

Everyone Deserves Respect

Prioritizing inclusivity, the architect designed ramps and escalators for people with disabilities, ensuring they can confidently explore every corner of the bookstore.

Shanghai Book City, Wrapped

Symbolic wrapping of the bookstore’s façade with perforated aluminum panels not only adhered to structural limitations but also incorporated a classic modern symbol representing Shanghai.

Visual Appeal and Scenic Beauty

Crystal Palace Effect

The use of perforated aluminum panels with internal backlit lighting created a dazzling effect, earning the bookstore the nickname ‘Crystal Palace.’ The design, meeting regulatory standards, enhances the bookstore’s allure.

Mosaic Epic

Preserving original reliefs and artifacts behind the ‘Book Mountain,’ the upgraded Shanghai Book City becomes a mosaic epic, embedded with diverse histories, memories, and the continuous evolution of the city.


In redefining Shanghai Book City, Wutopia Lab has not just renovated a bookstore but crafted a cultural haven, inviting readers and non-readers alike to immerse themselves in the vibrant mosaic of Shanghai’s literary and historical richness. The bookstore’s transformation reflects the true luxury of knowledge, transcending the illusions of consumerism. Welcome to the renewed Shanghai Book City, where every corner echoes the city’s epic tale.

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