Isis Davis-Marks in Smithsonian:
Recently opened bookstore in southwest China looks like it came straight out of one of Dutch artist M.C. Escher’s fever dreams. Located west of Chengdu in the Sichuan province, Dujiangyan Zhongshuge boasts spiraling staircases, curved archways and strategically placed mirrors; these architectural features work in tandem to create the illusion of an impossible space similar to the one depicted in Escher’s gravity-defying Relativity (1953). Architect Li Xiang, founder of Shanghai-based firm X+Living, designed the roughly 10,500-square-foot bookshop, which draws inspiration from the Unesco World Heritage–listed Dujiangyan irrigation system. Certain architectural elements resemble water, nodding to the many rivers that flow through the city. “We moved the local landscape into the indoor space,” Li tells Architectural Digest’s Elizabeth Stamp. “The project is located in Dujiangyan, which is a city with a long history of water conservancy development, so in the main area, you [can] see the construction of the dam integrated into the bookshelves.”
According to a statement, the Dujiangyan store—much like Zhongshuge’s other locations—uses a mirrored ceiling to simulate a sense of limitless openness. Book-laden, ceiling-high shelves echo the curves of nature, while glossy, black-tile flooring makes reading tables scattered across the space resemble boats moored on a lake.