Taiwanese designer Chu Chih-Kang achieved his dream by designing Chengdu's Fangsuo Bookstore
Designing a bookstore has long been a dream for Taiwanese designer Chu Chih-Kang, going back some 14 years ago when he came across some interesting bookstore designs. Viewing bookshops as more than mere retail outlets selling books, but rather, spaces where knowledge is collected and shared amid spaces for relaxation and contemplation, Chu felt that to be able to create such a place would be the ultimate achievement.
So, when the opportunity arose to partner with Fangsuo Bookstore on its latest project, there was absolutely no doubt in Chu's mind as to whether or not he would accept the opportunity. His proposal centred around the notion of secret scripture libraries, which have been found either in or under Buddhist temples for centuries — in Putonghua, their name also suggests the notion of stored wisdom.
In the beginning, there was no definitive aesthetic direction for the Cheng Du Fangsuo Bookstore, but the client was firm on one thing: the space must have Chengdu "running through its very core", according to Chu Chih-Kang, founder of Chu Chih-Kang Space Design. With this in mind, he and his team — including Jia Lu, Li He and Li Liu-Zhen — began to research the city and found significant historical connections to the site, such as its links to Daci Temple and one of the most famous Buddhist monks, Xuan Zhang, who lived during the Tang dynasty.
This research also brought to light the emotional connection that people of Sichuan have with wo (a nest, cove or home) and bai (intentional placement or design). In short, Chu envisioned a bookstore which would embody the essence of ancient scripture libraries, while also being a space that spoke to the Sichuan people and their way of life (slow-paced, relaxed, a love of socialising).
This is an excerpt from the "A Cavern of Infinite Wisdom” article from the April 2016 issue of Perspective magazine.
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