Shanghai-based Wutopia Lab brings the spirit of Neverland to the Duoyun bookshop in Yancheng, Jiangsu, China, a fairytale space where adults and children alike can escape. The design is inspired by Mirò the Cat, The Circus and Creation, three animated films by Italian illustrator Cristina Làstrego, known for her whimsical depiction of characters and settings.
Incorporating playful and dramatic architectural elements, this 1,700 m² structure in Jiangsu, China, enjoys a fresh palette of colors and materials, and a plethora of symbolic references. Specifically, the thematic thread woven through Duoyun celebrates the soft lines and vivid tones used in picture books to describe the world around us. To begin with, the Wutopia Lab team imagines the façade of the main building as a seascape, with a red boat moored in the harbor and a yellow background recalling the movement of waves. At the rear, a red octagonal book tower, resembling a lighthouse standing in the harbor, is accessed by a rust-toned central staircase, which leads visitors to a bewitching display of white shelves spread over two levels. Arriving on the second floor, they are invited to contemplate the sloping roof and marvel at its hypnotic, sun-like design. Exiting the tower, they enter the “Black Forest” corridor, where an abstract scattering of black metal poles recalls a bouquet of trees. At night, dotted lights on the floor come to life like sparks, evoking the enchanted woods described in fairy tales. Complementing this semi-outdoor “forest” is a cloud-themed café at ground level, with gradations of white perforated metal and brushed stainless steel panels, giving the impression of floating in the sky. Another library area is located just above the café. Here, illustrated books are divided into four colorful sections; each is built with an animal-shaped entrance. In contrast to the perforated metal exterior, the interior of each room is clad entirely in white to eliminate distractions while reading. Finally, the café’s outdoor terrace reveals a vibrant red tent with carousel horses at its center. The flame-like structure has the same perforated skin as the Duoyun bookshop, letting daylight filter through to create playful patterns of light and shadow. In this way, the design spatially transcends users into the land of fantasy, mystery and magic.