Although Shanghai doesn’t have the historic cachet that Beijing does, the ultra-modern Pearl of the Orient has its fair share of adaptive reuse projects. Case in point is the recent transformation of an old mansion into a modern bookstore in the city’s Huangpu District. The multi-story Sinan Bookshop, designed by local architecture firm WUtopia Lab, combines multiple functions with an artistic and contemporary design that’s rich in a variety of hues and textures.

Continue reading below
Our Featured Videos

Sinan bookstore exterior

aerial view

Commissioned by the Shanghai Century Publishing Group and the Yongye Group, the new Sinan Bookshop is housed in Building 25, one of the Sinan Mansions built in the 1920s and 1930s for the city’s elite. Today, the Sinan Mansions are undergoing massive redevelopment in a somewhat controversial process. Many of the historic buildings will be knocked down and rebuilt with faux-renovations for high-end retail or apartments that cater almost exclusively to the rich. However, the Sinan Bookshop — which the architects say is housed in the original building — is thankfully accessible to all and will offer educational spaces for the general public.

entrance of bookstore

Bookshelves on second floor

“The goal was to provide a space for learning and thinking for the general public living in the city,” the architecture firm wrote. “Considering one’s mind, thoughts, perception and sub-consciousness, Sinan books is seen as a person with a system of acquiring knowledge while discovering oneself and the surrounding.”

herringbone pattern floors

Related: Architects squeeze an ethereal art gallery into a narrow Shanghai alleyway

The bookshop is entered through the second floor, which also houses a cafe, cashier and books on literature and Shanghai. The first floor contains books on history and philosophy, as well as an outpost of the London Review Bookshop. An exhibition hall and books on art can be found on the third floor. A multipurpose events space is located on the fourth floor and is designed to host cultural saloons or debates. A rich mixture of colors and textures — from herringbone parquet floors to forest-green hues to shades of salmon — is woven throughout each floor.

+ WUtopia Lab

Images by CreatAR Images