The city of Xi’an was once known as Chang’anthe seat of several important dynasties in ancient China; today, it is home to the Xi’an Hi-tech Industries Development Zone, a leading center of technological development. This project involved the design of the YJY Maike Centre Flagship (Store), a bookstore and commercial complex occupying 4,500 m2 on the first and second floors of an elegant building in the Development Zone. The goal of the design was to create a place for encounters between people, cultures, and books from around the world by building on three remarkable features of the site: its location in an ancient city that boasts the extraordinary World Heritage Terracotta Army as well as the origin of the Silk Road; its luxurious surroundings, including a Grand Hyatt on the upper floors; and the elegant lines of the twin building.
The overall concept for the project was “Library & Gallery.” Libraries are spaces for learning and valuing independent time, while galleries serve as intellectual spaces for displaying culture. The design blends elements of both and also incorporates features of palace architecture in order to encourage visitors and the store to collaboratively exchange and develop creative ideas. The layout resembles a Japanese or Chinese palace in its human scale and arrangement of interlinked rooms, while also evoking the universal concept of a house through its expression of the intimate connections between people, books, and the space itself.
Books play an integral role in the design of the first floor, with a 10-meter-high bookshelf just inside the entryway viscerally conveying the store’s identity the instant visitors step inside. The area around the open spiral staircase functions like a courtyard, with a bright floor and mirrors on the ceiling to distinguish it from other areas. The void above the staircase is illuminated by lights that resemble fluttering sheets of paper, while the stage at its base features an inlaid stone map of Xi’an and its surroundings, offering a gorgeous space for events.
The second floor does double duty as a hotel lounge, with a counter bar where office workers can socialize. On the 50-meter-long “Book Street,” a low ceiling, dark colors for the floor and ceiling, and display boxes set in bookshelves come together to create a subdued gallery-like atmosphere. The distinctive artwork incorporated throughout the store is all original, commissioned to reflect themes appropriate to the location. The overall effect is a tasteful, classic environment that reflects China’s long and proud history, where visitors can relax, unwind, learn, think, enjoy life, and embark on a creative journey that transcends space and time.