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Wutopia Lab wraps Duoyun Bookstore in perforated metal to mimic clouds


Architecture studio Wutopia Lab has used layers of perforated metal to transform two disused buildings on the banks of Taizhou’s Yongning River into a bright and modern bookshop.

Rather than demolishing the existing buildings or attempting to perform “cosmetic surgery” on their cluttered, commercial facades, the studio decided to simply wrap the structures in white aluminium panels.

Night view of illuminated Duoyin bookstore
Duoyun Bookstore’s Taizhou outpost (above) features a perforated aluminium facade (top image)

The resulting facade offers varying levels of translucency, revealing traces of the original buildings that now house Chinese retailer Duoyun Bookstore’s first outpost outside Shanghai.

“By controlling the perforation rate, the facade creates a cloud of layers hiding the bookstore,” explained Wutopia Lab founder and chief architect Yu Ting.

“The continuous white aluminium wall is used as an addition to create a serene and pleasant visual subtraction. A cloud rises over the riverside and the readers of the bookstore are in the cloud.”

Cloud-shaped cutout in perforated white aluminium facade of Huangyan shop by Wutopia Lab
Undulating cutouts in the facade suggest the shape of clouds

The original plan of the site, which Ting describes as “scattered and unfocused”, was reimagined to house a number of small gardens as well as a central courtyard to connect the buildings into a single complex.

In the process, Wutopia Lab had to work around two other, privately owned buildings on the site, using the fence between them to mark out a small front yard and entrance for the bookshop.

Courtyard with white pebbles, stone path and central tree in Duoyin bookstore
The internal courtyard is organised around a central tree

The site’s original trees and plants are left intact in the courtyard, surrounded by white pebbles that reference the work of Ming dynasty artist Qiu Ying.

Places for rest are provided by two “cloud stools”, one white and one blue, made from recycled marine plastic.

Courtyard with white pebbles surrounded by perforated white aluminium facade by Wutopia Lab
The floor outdoors is lined in white pebbles

Inside, the Duoyun Bookstore is split across two levels and five different colour-coded zones.

The first floor is home to a pink and purple exhibition space and a red stepped lecture theatre as well as a neutral-toned meeting room, all connected to each other via different terraces.

These accommodate a children’s play platform, a discussion terrace with a fire pit and a labyrinthian terrace that serves as an outdoor cafe.

Here, the architects installed a blue glasshouse made from a special glass that was developed locally for use in the automotive industry. At the touch of a button, it becomes colourless to reveal views of the Yongning River beyond.

Circular orange seating booths in cafe of Duoyin bookstore
Circular orange booths feature in the cafe on the ground floor

On the ground floor, customers can find a section dedicated to lifestyle books, displayed on a triangular orange stand.

This pays homage to a 1967 installation by South African artist Roelof Louw, in which 6,000 oranges were stacked into a towering pyramid.

Dark petrol blue pyramid display stand in Duoyin bookstore
Books are displayed on pyramid-shaped stands

The same vibrant orange is also picked up in the children’s play area upstairs and in the circular booths of the coffee pavilion, which sits further east near the water.

Following the path through the store on the ground floor, visitors are guided to a cultural and creative zone. This is identified by the petrol-blue colour palette applied to shelving and display fixtures, including a second pyramid-shaped display unit.

Bookshop by Wutopia Lab with petrol blue display stands and corrugated aluminium ceiling
Corrugated aluminium panels the ceiling in Duoyun Bookstore’s main retail area

This area also houses two different reading rooms as well as the shop’s main retail area with a triangular, translucent acrylic cashier counter.

A luminous canopy of corrugated aluminium panels is installed on ceilings throughout this section to recall the surface of the river outside.

Wood-panelled staircase with book displays designed by Wutopia Lab
Reproductions of rare books are displayed in a wood-panelled stairwell

The first floor can be accessed from the cafe via an orange spiral staircase or a wood-panelled stairwell with an integrated display area for reproductions of rare books.

Wutopia Lab has designed a number of unusual bookstores in recent years, including one that maps out the human psyche and another with a triangular lightwell that pierces through six stories.

Photography is by CreatAR Images.


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