Wutopia Lab crafts bookstore at ‘the end of the earth’

Shanghai-based Wutopia Lab has recently completed Tianya Books, a bookstore in Hainan offering a unique scenic ocean view

Daytime aerial view showing the Tianya Books by Wutopia Lab in China among trees, sea view and blue cloudy skies
(Image credit: CreatAR Images)

Chinese architecture studio Wutopia Lab is a deft hand at what makes the perfect bookstore. Its latest offering, Tianya Books, is the third such project this year, located in the popular Tianya Haijiao beach in Hainan, China’s southernmost island province. The bookstore’s design is finely tuned to its site and responds to the commonly romanticised view of Tianya Haijiao beach as ‘the end of the earth’, often found in Chinese folklore. Through Tianya Books, Wutopia Lab playfully creates a striking panoramic view of that ‘edge of the world' and the South China Sea. 

The bookstore is orientated towards the sea and consists of two floors. The first floor includes a café and general reading areas, whilst the second floor encompasses a lecture hall and a children’s reading space. The upper level comprises a raised central platform that seems to float in the space, leaving visitors feeling ‘as if in the sea’, explains the team. The remaining space includes an exhibition hall, a circulation hub, retail, custom-made book displays and seats. 

Exterior of Wutopia Lab's, tall glass panels frame the window and entrance door to the building, trees in the white paved pathway, border shrubs and trees in the background, blue dusky sky

(Image credit: CreatAR Images)

Following Wutopia Lab's signature aesthetic, which encompasses flowing, seamless spaces defined by bold statements and clean shapes, structural components such as columns are strategically hidden in the bookshelves. 

Building a 400 sq m glass bookstore on sand proved to be a difficult task on the construction front. Parts of the foundation had to be replaced and boosted for extra support. Rather than build directly on the beach, the architects decided to build on a coconut grove close to it.

Meanwhile, a triangle-shaped section was carefully cut through the original floor plan in order to preserve a banyan tree and respect the existing vegetation, outlining the architects’ sensitive approach towards the surrounding nature and context. 

Since Wutopia Lab was founded in 2012, it has completed 12 bookstores and two libraries. The studio continues to be one of the leading practices in contemporary bookstore design coming out of China. Wutopia Lab’s unconventional designs elegantly balance complexity in detail and a perceived simplicity. 

Looking into the interior through framed window, white room with orange shelving around the walls, black chairs and tables, high white ceiling with suspended glass viewing area, counter worktop, planters, glass double door on the left wall

(Image credit: CreatAR Images)

White interior room with table, chairs and lounge seating, white glossed triangular units, white floor, glass framed wall, view of surrounding landscape, palm trees, trees, sea in the distance and blue sky

(Image credit: CreatAR Images)

Interior room, white floor, walls and ceiling, orange shelving units, suspended glass viewing gallery in the centre, windows to the left with a surrounding area view of trees, counter top, white triangular seating, vending machine

(Image credit: CreatAR Images)

Narrow white floor and ceiling corridors, left hand side white shelving wall to ceiling unit, white planter, glass framed wall looking out to the external landscape, right hand side a white and an orange shelving floor to ceiling unit, blue seating area with plants and windows at the end of the corridor

(Image credit: CreatAR Images)

White interior, grey gloss marble counter, seating area, planters, tables and chairs, orange shelving unit on the left hand side wall, window framed viewing wall looking out to the surrounding landscape, trees, fencing and sea view, woman sat at a table looking out of the window, blue sky

(Image credit: CreatAR Images)

External view of the Wutopia lab builidng, grass verge, tall trees surrounding landscape, glass wall looking into the building, orange shelving unit dominates the room, people sat at some of the table and chairs, dusk sky

(Image credit: CreatAR Images)



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