Incredible, futuristic-looking libraries have been taking root across China, including in one of the country’s most famous ancient cities, Xi’an. Once the capital for thirteen dynasties, the Shaanxi Province city is now home to the curvaceous, all-white Zhongshu bookstore, which has a design that looks like something straight out of a science-fiction film. Crafted by Shanghai-based Wutopia Lab, the bookstore was constructed from 300 tons of steel and 30,000 meters of light strips.


view of the children's library

library interior

Located on the fourth floor of a commercial center, the Zhongshu bookstore welcomes visitors with a “glittering entrance” that connects the adjacent cinema to an all-white space with swooping curvilinear lines that draw the eye up towards the ceiling and over to a sinuous staircase. The pillar-free interior is supported with a hidden steel frame tucked behind the foundation. Books are set on over 3,000 meters of steel-plated curved bookshelves that appear to float thanks to their thin, cantilevered profiles just five millimeters thick.

interior bookstore

view of ceiling

“I hope my architectural practices reiterate our everyday life through immense imaginations and dramatic artistic expressions,” explains the firm in a project statement. “I also hope that it transforms reality into a ‘magic reality’ and creates an illusion that uncovers bits of truths in our life. The design and construction of Zhongshu Bookstore which lasted 600 days is not only the transcendence of Zhongshu Bookstore itself, but also represents the great urban revival that Xi’an is currently experiencing.”

Round window

arches inside bookstore

Related: China’s new futuristic library is unlike any we’ve seen before

The sinuous forms of the Zhongshu bookstore were achieved using computer 3D modeling, while the steel-plate bookshelves were cut with CNC machines and then assembled on site. The rounded computer-aided design ensures that there are no sharp corners in the store, which the architects liken to a cloud-like environment. The airy and bright atmosphere is reinforced with translucent materials including glass surfaces and translucent acrylic.

+ Wutopia Lab

Images by CreatAR Images