Chinese bibliophiles have been flocking to a new bookstore in China that claims to be the most beautiful in the world.
Photos of the new Zhongsuhge-Hangzhou store have gone viral on Chinese social media in the past few days, reported Shanghaiist. It has been compared to Shanghai’s most popular library, Zhong Shu Ge.
Designed by acclaimed Shanghai design studio XL-Muse, the Zhongsuhge-Hangzhou bookstore is located within the commercial center of Star Avenue, Binjiang District, which is adjacent to the Qiantang River.
With its transparent glass walls and circular bookshelf pillars, the store’s architecture and interior design combine the aesthetics of both old and modern. According to Tencent, the mirrored glass ceiling is an optical delight for visitors.
Children are also welcome to play in the children’s pavilion, a portion of the store where the bookshelves are shaped like a playground. The shelves are shaped in the form of a merry-go-round, a roller coaster, hot air balloons and pirate ships.
A statement from the studio XL-Muse website revealed the motivation behind the construction of the building. It read:
“After years of growth, Hangzhou Zhongshuge is always adhering to its initial desire to emerge as the most beautiful bookstore for readers, and constantly strives to work on the most culturally artistic bookstore, from learning how to walk, to live, to brave and to persevere.”
Despite its many admirers, the store has been received less enthusiastically by some. One netizen wrote:
“This is where rich and pretentious people go, can the poor students come here?”
” Only go to the bookstore now for air conditioning,”
Others have also pointed out the irony of building a beautiful place to house books, yet actively censoring citizens’ freedom of speech. One person wrote:
“What’s the point of books in a country without freedom of thought.”
Another netizen echoed a similar sentiment:
“Nice place, but all it will sell are autobiographies of famous wealthy Chinese politicians, bizarre self improvement books, and a couple of Jane Austen novels.”