Interior image of the part submerged bookstore

MUDA Architects completes bookshop in Chengdu with roof shaped like "a flipped book"

Chinese studio MUDA Architects has designed a lakeside bookshop in Chengdu featuring a roof that resembles an upturned book and windows that extend below the water level.

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

Aerial image of the Xinglong Lake Citic Bookstore
The Xinglong Lake Citic Bookstore was designed by MUDA Architects

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

Extending along the edge of the lake in the south of Chengdu, the rectangular structure's swooping roof echoes the outline of a nearby grassy slope and appears to float above the water.

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

"The curved roof surface is formed in shape of a flipped book, which reinterprets the pitched roof of Chengdu vernacular architecture," explained MUDA Architects.

"It also cooperates with the water ripples to extend the lake and blend in with the natural context."

The dramatic roof is covered with titanium-zinc panels that were chosen to create a texture reminiscent of fish scales shimmering in the sunlight.

Image of the corner of Xinglong Lake Citic Bookstore
Part of the building is submerged beneath water

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

Its structural steel frame is concealed within the walls to create a simple and open sequence of spaces that look out across the lake through full-height windows.

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

The lower section of the glass curtain wall is partially submerged below the level of the lake, enhancing the lightweight appearance of the curving 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 facade was designed to withstand water levels during the flood season and comprises four layers of tempered glass to achieve a high level of pressure and impact resistance.

A row of cafe tables and chairs positioned along the glass curtain wall creates a waterfront reading area and cafe, where visitors can relax with a book or drink while looking out onto the ever-changing natural scenery.

Interior image of the Xinglong Lake Citic Bookstore
The interior features a sweeping ceiling. Photo is by HereSpace

The primary entrance at one end of the building opens into a reception area and gallery space that connects with the central hall. A small theatre and service areas are located on the opposite 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 punctured by a horizontal opening at eye level.

Image of a seating area beside a glazed wall that is part submerged at Xinglong Lake Citic Bookstore
Glass extends beneath the waterline. Photo is by HereSpace

"By the application of both transparent glass walls and solid walls, the architecture introduces the natural elements into the interior space to correspond to the theme of 'reading in nature'," the studio said.

The bookshop's curving ceiling comprises an evenly spaced array of aluminium sections that are clad in wood veneer to maintain the interior's organic aesthetic.

Image of light dappling across the wooden walls of the book shop
The walls and ceilings are clad in wood veneer-lined aluminium. Photo is by HereSpace

To ensure the building achieved its objectives in a unified and consistent way, MUDA Architects oversaw every aspect of the project, including the architecture, landscaping, interior design and decoration.

In Shanghai, musical instruments informed the vertical lighting and bookshelves of this cinema lobby and bookshop that was created by Hong Kong-based Pulse.

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

Photography is by Arch-Exist unless stated otherwise.

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More images and plans

Ground floor plan of bookstore in Chengdu with roof shaped like "a flipped book"
Ground floor plan
Section drawings of bookstore in Chengdu with roof shaped like "a flipped book"
Section drawings
MUDA Architects completes bookstore in Chengdu with roof shaped like "a flipped book"
Photo is by Arch-Exist
MUDA Architects completes bookstore in Chengdu with roof shaped like "a flipped book"
Photo is by Lu Yun
MUDA Architects completes bookstore in Chengdu with roof shaped like "a flipped book"
Photo is by Lu Yun
MUDA Architects completes bookstore in Chengdu with roof shaped like "a flipped book"
Photo is by Lu Yun
MUDA Architects completes bookstore in Chengdu with roof shaped like "a flipped book"
Photo is by HereSpace
MUDA Architects completes bookstore in Chengdu with roof shaped like "a flipped book"
Photo is by HereSpace
MUDA Architects completes bookstore in Chengdu with roof shaped like "a flipped book"
Photo is by HereSpace
MUDA Architects completes bookstore in Chengdu with roof shaped like "a flipped book"
Photo is by HereSpace
MUDA Architects completes bookstore in Chengdu with roof shaped like "a flipped book"
Photo is by HereSpace
MUDA Architects completes bookstore in Chengdu with roof shaped like "a flipped book"
Photo is by Arch-Exist
MUDA Architects completes bookstore in Chengdu with roof shaped like "a flipped book"
Photo is by HereSpace
MUDA Architects completes bookstore in Chengdu with roof shaped like "a flipped book"
Photo is by HereSpace