Foreign Language Bookstore

Recreating a landmark bookstore as a urban hub in Wuhan

28 February 2020

With a concept based on the use of symbolism in architecture, Wutopia Lab has recently completed the renovation of the Hubei Foreign Language Bookstore in Wuhan.
In business for more than 40 years, the bookstore offers a variety of spaces, including libraries, galleries and reading rooms, incorporating the notion of symbols to re-establish a relationship between the architecture and local residents. 

The Hubei Foreign Language Bookstore was once a cultural symbol. These prompted Wutopia Lab to remold the building with a positive and understandable symbolism, to re-establish a cultural and memory relationship with Wuhan people.

Traditional Chinese architecture is a collection of signs filled with symbols, metaphors, prophecies, fables, legends, myths and charms. Different Chinese people use diverse signs to understand architecture, thus establishing the relationship and significance of selves, buildings and sites in space, time, memory and history. However, since modern architecture became mainstream, signs have become insubstantial, the relationships between people and architecture gradually becomes alienated.

“Our team decided to use a perforated aluminum plate to create the atmosphere of layers of green hills, act as the background of the street trees and symbolize the new life of Hubei Foreign Language Bookstore,” explains Wutopia Lab. The new façade of the bookstore is also a manifesto, the abstract green hills open a window on the increasingly crowded Zhongnan Road and link the numb daily life to a whole new world.

The bookstore has a total of 10,000 square meters, with one basement level and seven floors above ground. The light cone is the center and it is surrounded by book world. Around the light cone is the core of the bookstore. From the first floor, there are urban art living room, 24h. study room, children's library, humanity reading room and silk road reading room, art reading room and the future reading room, and the bookstore on the roof displaying rare books. On both sides of the core area are life-related spaces derived from bookstores. Starting from the basement are creative cuisine, cultural and creative area, coffee, living technology area, fast food, picture book museum, talent training center, teahouse, miniature art gallery, exhibition, classical furniture, photo gallery. Bookstore is a complex system that are constantly growing and updating. Therefore, Hubei Foreign Language Bookstore is not only a bookstore, but also a cultural and creative combination of lifestyle and aesthetics.

The reborn Hubei Foreign Language Bookstore does not seem to follow any old appearance or any forms, it is a brand-new image formed entirely from the basic structure of the old site. It needs to be pointed out that everything new is not all worse than the old one. It inherits the spirit of the site. It awakens memories and becomes the cultural lighthouse of Wuhan again.

"Every book is a world." Enter the Hubei Foreign Language Bookstore and explore the world in the books. Everything has a gap, that's where the light comes in. There are always deadlocks in life, but we have a gorgeous tool that can create wonders. It is architecture.


Photo: CreatAR Images