Home Bookstore MUDA Architects designs a bookstore with a roof in the shape of an “upturned book”

MUDA Architects designs a bookstore with a roof in the shape of an “upturned book”


Chinese studio MUDA Architects has designed a lakeside bookstore in Chengdu with a roof that looks like an upturned book and windows that extend below water level.

The architecture of Xinglong Lake Citic Bookstore aims to embody MUDA Architects‘ concept of the building as a visual representation of a book fallen from the sky.

Xinglong Lake Citic Bookstore was designed by MUDA Architects

The eye-catching design was shortlisted in the commercial building category at the 2022 Dezeen Awards, alongside projects including a giant greenhouse added to the roof of a farmers’ market in Belgium.

Stretching along the edge of the lake south of Chengdu, the rectangular structure’s sloping roof echoes the outline of a nearby grassy slope and appears to float above the water.

Image of Xinglong Lake Citic Bookstore reflecting in nearby lake
The building has a curved roof

“The curved surface of the roof has the shape of an upturned book, which reinterprets the pitched roof of Chengdu’s vernacular architecture,” explained MUDA Architects.

“It also cooperates with the ripples of the water to extend the lake and blend into the natural context.”

The dramatic roof is clad in titanium-zinc panels that have been chosen to create a texture reminiscent of fish scales glistening in the sun.

Corner image of Xinglong Lake Citic Bookstore
Part of the building is submerged under water

The interior of the building aims to immerse visitors in a tranquil environment that feels directly connected to the natural surroundings.

Its steel frame is concealed within the walls to create a simple, open sequence of spaces that overlook the lake through floor-to-ceiling windows.

Image of Xinglong Lake Citic bookstore curved profile
Floor-to-ceiling glazing surrounds the sides of the building facing the lake

The lower section of the glass curtain wall is partially submerged below lake level, enhancing the lightweight appearance of the curved roof plane.

During the day, natural light permeates the water and enters the interior, creating what the architects described as “an ambience of serenity.”

The underwater section of the façade has been designed to withstand water levels during the flood season and incorporates four layers of tempered glass to achieve a high level of pressure and impact resistance.

A row of cafe tables and chairs placed along the glass curtain wall create a reading space and waterside cafe, where visitors can relax with a book or drink while admiring the scenery ever-changing nature.

Interior image of Xinglong Lake Citic Bookstore
The interior has a majestic ceiling. Photo is by HereSpace

The main entrance at one end of the building opens into a reception area and gallery space which communicates with the central hall. A small theater and service areas are located on the other side of the main space.

Visitors can sit on large steps at either end of the reading room with a book. A narrow meditation area on one side of the room is concealed behind a freestanding wall with a horizontal opening at eye level.

Image of a seating area next to a partially sunken glass wall at Xinglong Lake Citic Bookstore
The glass extends below the waterline. Photo is by HereSpace

“Through the application of transparent glass walls and solid walls, the architecture introduces natural elements into the interior space to correspond to the theme of ‘reading in nature,'” the studio said.

The bookstore’s curved ceiling features a set of evenly spaced aluminum sections that are clad in wood veneer to maintain the interior’s organic aesthetic.

Image of dappled light on wooden walls in bookstore
Walls and ceilings are clad in aluminum clad with wood veneer. Photo is by HereSpace

To ensure that the building achieves its objectives in a unified and cohesive manner, MUDA Architects oversaw all aspects of the project, including architecture, landscaping, interior design and decoration.

In Shanghai, musical instruments lit overhead lighting and shelves in this cinema lobby and bookstore created by Hong Kong-based Pulse.

Danish studio Norm Architects has designed a flagship bookstore that incorporates stone plinths and pivoting wooden walls.

The photograph is from Arch Exist unless otherwise stated.