Alt-Life bookstore, an architectural masterpiece in China


Signed by the Kokaistudios agency, Alt-Life, a high-profile project located in the Ningbo region of China, has caused a sensation since its inauguration. Located in the basement of 1844 He Yi Plaza, along the south bank of the Yuyao River, it is a cultural space with fluid and organic geometries.

Subtle, original and sublime realization of Kokaistudios, designed for people to linger, read, participate in workshops or events. Spanning nearly 2,400 m², in Ningbo, China, it is divided into two floors, organized into three areas: a bookstore, a space dedicated to new technologies and catering and another audience. The building captivates from the main entrance: a large staircase, designed as a spiral library, connects it to the mezzanine and the central floor, encompassing the resting and reading areas. During the day, natural light floods the interiors through a glass pavilion, softened by translucent acrylic panels integrated into the library modules. Conversely, at night, artificial light makes the pavilion sparkle. Four further staircases provide additional vertical connections between the two floors. Around the perimeter, the walls are lined with full-height shelving, unrolling like a ribbon along all surfaces, separating or connecting the different areas. Inspired by Michelangelo Pistoletto’s maze games of the 1960s, a modular system of transparent shelves and counters occupies the bookstore, dividing the space into smaller rooms. Materials and textures are soft and warm hues, inspired by various grades of paper and materials traditionally linked to books.

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