Studio MK27's "21st century bookstore" was designed as a meeting place
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Studio MK27's "bookstore of the 21st century" was designed as a social meeting place

The vast open-plan interior of this São Paulo bookshop by Studio MK27 was designed to encourage shoppers to stay and read the books they've purchased or to simply hang out with friends (+ movie).

Livraria Cultura by Studio MK27

The Livraria Cultura, which translates as Culture Bookshop, occupies a 2,500-metre multi-level space in the Iguatemi São Paulo shopping centre and was designed by Studio MK27 founder Marcio Kogan to be a "bookstore of the 21st century".

Livraria Cultura by Studio MK27

"More than just merely a place to shop, the store is inviting to stay and hang out," said the team, whose completed projects also include a concrete photography studio and a house with a cantilevered swimming pool.

Livraria Cultura by Studio MK27

"Thus, we sought for visitors to not only find a book that they might be looking for, but rather that they remain there," they said.

Livraria Cultura by Studio MK27

The interior is laid out over four levels, with spaces including a grand double-height room that could be used to host lectures and events, a "geek mezzanine" offering comic books and toys, and a garden cafe.

Livraria Cultura by Studio MK27

The bookshop entrance is an eight-metre-wide expanse of glazing, with recessed aluminium frames designed to make the shop feel as open and welcoming as possible.

Livraria Cultura by Studio MK27

Once inside, customers can either walk through to the garden cafe at the back, or ascend upstairs via a pair of central escalators.

Livraria Cultura by Studio MK27

After passing by the comics and toys on the intermediate level, customers arrive at the grand upper floor where bookshelves line the perimeter walls – a space the designers describe as "a cube internally clad with books".

Livraria Cultura by Studio MK27

"The architectural journey begins in a cozy space then arrives at a monumental living area, where most of the products and visitors can interact with one another, where one can take a book and read a chapter even before purchasing it, where one can simply rest and watch the movement," said the team.

Livraria Cultura by Studio MK27

Bleachers span the 21-metre width of the space, leading up to a high-level walkway that circles the room. This means customers can reach books on higher shelves without assistance.

Cultura-Bookstore-by-Studio-MK27_dezeen_468_18

Two rows of tables offer additional display space. Between them, tables surrounded by George Nelson's iconic 1955 Coconut Chairs offer spaces for reading or conversation.

Livraria Cultura by Studio MK27

Bookshelves feature built-in LED lighting, while wooden pendants hanging from the ceiling offer additional low-level illumination.

Livraria Cultura by Studio MK27

Timber covers the floors and ceilings. "The floor and the lining as well as the display tables are also of wood. The other planes use white laminates and distinguish the side walls from the rest," said the designers.

Livraria Cultura by Studio MK27

"Glass hand-rails minimise the visual interference of these elements in the space, disappearing in the entire layout," they added.

Livraria Cultura by Studio MK27

Other spaces at the rear of the bookshop include a small exhibition gallery, a children's book area, a classroom and a conference area with a cafe kitchen on one side.

Livraria Cultura by Studio MK27

Livraria Cultura was the winning project in the retail category at the Inside Awards earlier this month. The overall winner was a Hong Kong restaurant that combines colonial-style furnishings with an industrial warehouse aesthetic.

Livraria Cultura by Studio MK27

Photography is by Fernando Guerra.


Project credits:

Architecture: Studio MK27
Architect: Marcio Kogan
Co-architects: Diana Radomysler, Luciana Antunes, Marcio Tanaka, Mariana Ruzante
Project team: Carlos Costa, Eline Ostyn, Laura Guedes, Maria Cristina Motta, Mariana Simas, Regiane Leão
Contractor: Valor

Livraria Cultura by Studio MK27
Lower level floor plan – click for larger image
Livraria Cultura by Studio MK27
Mezzanine floor plan – click for larger image
Livraria Cultura by Studio MK27
Upper level floor plan – click for larger image
Livraria Cultura by Studio MK27
Walkway floor plan – click for larger image
Livraria Cultura by Studio MK27
Section – click for larger image