Designboom_ In a bustling marketplace in Jiangsu, China, Huai’an Zhongshuge is a futuristic bookstore marked by a series of colossal apparatus. Designed by Li Xiang of X+Living, the interior is brought to life by a series of exaggerated three-dimensional structures that reimagine celestial instruments within the confines of indoor spaces, while shattering the monotony of the concrete cityscape. A display of intertwined star rings thus takes over the store, reminiscent of astronomical wonders. Within, black wood grain bookshelf walls and delicate marble textures create an infinite space, where irregular structures mimic the laws of celestial motion, forming precise and massive mechanical components.
Upon entering, visitors experience a profound sense of scale distortion, as if walking through the interior of celestial instruments. The room is adorned with tiny pages, each concealing a vast world within. ‘It is like astronomical instruments slowly rising from the sea of stars, releasing marvelous gravity, with swirling light strips casting ethereal shadows,’ describes the team at X+Living. Within this imagery, Huai’an Zhongshuge stands as a symbolic wormhole, the architecture of the space becoming a tangible, spiritual manifestation suspended in the urban sky.
Lead designer Li Xiang’s philosophy echoes through the design, emphasizing the city as a product of desires and architecture as the creator of dreams. In a fast-paced modern society where many have lost the ability to dream, this space offers a retreat from reality — a place to reflect, detach, and rediscover oneself. ‘Briefly escaping from reality is a genuine way to rediscover oneself,’ he notes.