The Mysterious Bookstore

The Chongqing Zhongshuge bookstore in China designed by Li Xiang of X+Living takes the readers on an immersive experience with books and mirrored ceilings.

Just when we had decided that bookstores and libraries were becoming redundant there comes this enormous bookstore in Chongquing, China that seems to celebrate books from every nook and corner. The design of the bookstore takes us to the age-old libraries that have staircases to maneuver making the store a mysterious place, waiting to be discovered.

Chongqing Zhongshuge Bookstore

Books are reflected from the mirrored ceilings making the place look much bigger than it is.

Design team creates most astonishing bookstore in Chongqing

The quiet reading corner in the bookstore.

The Chongqing Zhongshuge bookstore is designed by the firm X+Living founded by Li Xiang in 2011. Alongside their interior design projects for stores, bookshops and hotels, the consultancy has a strong architectural portfolio and Li has also designed numerous collections of furniture under the Xiang Casa brand.

Li Xiang

Li Xiang, Founder of X+Living

Across disciplines, Li’s style ranges from the playful to the organic, to formal and often quite monumental. There is a definite love of mirrors, which have been used to in several of the bookstores that the architecture firm has designed. Mirrored ceilings and reflective floors, play with the interior architecture of the space, increasing the perceived volume, of both the stores and the number of products on display.

Explaining the design of this bookstore, the spokesperson of the firm says, “As one of the world’s largest inland city of mountains and rivers, Chongqing is a city full of surprises and wonderful and charming corners. Since ancient times, its landscape and historical sites have attracted many ancient writers and calligraphers. Until today, Chongqing is an attraction for tourists visiting China.”

Li explains her design approach, “’I tried to create a space where the readers could feel like they are within the terrains of the charming Chongqing city. So, I integrated the staircases and bookshelves to create ladders in the room, which perfectly reflects the terrain features of Chongqing. And I utilized the mirrored ceiling in order to make the space seem more spacious. The visually stunning bookstore enables the readers to feel the magnificence of the cityscape in a closed and confined space, which is definitely a fantastic real-life experience that the internet simply cannot offer.”

The architect’s intention, was to make the bookstore, a visually stunning piece of work that anyone would want to come and spend time here.

China has Escher styled crazy steps

The Escher-styled steps that is a pure delight to the senses.

Located on the 3rd and 4th Floor of Zodi Plaza, Yangjiaping, the Chongqing Zhongshuge greets visitors with a simple glass facade covered with text. Once inside, scattered “lampshade-shaped bookshelves” are found throughout the dark brown lobby. Visitors can feel as if they were in a bright and warm private study when they read in the warm light projected from within the lampshades.


On one corner of the lampshade-shaped lobby is a quiet reading corridor, with bookshelves extending down the hallway. The bookshelves reflect on the ground and form a tunnel of books that beckons visitors to follow it deeper into the space and knowledge. On the other corner of the lobby is the children’s reading room, where the bookshelves are colorful with Chongqing’s landscape, buildings, and transportation depicted on the walls. Children may feel like they are outside, basking in the wonders of their charming city, Chongqing while reading in this room.

Inside the children’s reading room.


Further down the corridor and the children’s reading room is the main study, a “ladder hall” where the stairs double as bookshelves and the mirrored ceiling overhead doubles the size of the already astonishing room. The space allows visitors to rest on the shelved steps and be immersed in books and thoughts.

Lampshade-shaped bookshelves greet visitors inside the store

Lampshade-shaped bookshelves and counters greet visitors inside the store.

Up to the 4th floor from the“ladder hall” is a leisure area, where visitors can enjoy the aroma of coffee or a taste of good tea and immerse themselves into a tranquil world of different stories by reading. The “lampshade-shaped bookshelves” around create scattered booths at this area, in which visitors may gather with friends to have fun reading and enjoy their leisure time. Connected to the leisure area is the extensive reading hall, where works of great minds are listed and visitors are able to broaden their eyes and enrich their spiritual world.

Zhongshuge Bookstore is a good place to read books, understand one’s life and meet others. It is hoped that visitors to it can not only read good and new books but also meet friends of the same interests.

Project name: Chongqing Zhongshuge Bookstore

Location: 3F-4F, Zodi Plaza, Yangjiaping District, Chongqing, China

Project area: 1300㎡

Completion time: 2019.1

Client: Shanghai Zhongshu Industrial Ltd

Design Company: X+LIVING

Creative Designer: LI XIANG

Project Director: LIU HUAN

Photographer: SHAO FENG