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Wutopia Lab's steel structure creates a bookstore in a former church

Magical realism based on antithesis, perforated steel plates, translucent, uncertain light, colour and dramatic poetry can be found in the poetry store.
– Yu Ting

Wutopia Lab have transformed a former church in China into a 388sq m (4,176sq ft) poetry bookstore by installing a large freestanding steel frame that provides shelving and creates a space within a space.

The St. Nicholas Church in Shanghai was built in 1932 and has variously been used as an office, a factory, a warehouse, a canteen, a residential space, a club and a restaurant.

Its historic status meant that no existing façade, structural system, basic floor plan or distinctive interior decoration could be altered.

Having removed unnecessary elements that they could and carried out some preservation work, Wutopia constructed the steel frame to slot within the main hall just 50cm (20in) from the walls.

Around 3,500 steel plates weighing a total of 45 tons (41 tonnes) were used, with the structure rising to 9.9m (32.5ft).

The shelving provides space for 1,000 books and still allows light from the building's windows to filter into the central space.

The space also features a retail counter and part of the building has been converted into a café for visitors.

Yu Ting, chief architect for the project at Wutopia, said: "A continuation of Wutopia Lab’s design style, magical realism based on antithesis, perforated steel plates, translucent, uncertain light, colour and dramatic poetry can be found in the poetry store."

Wutopia Lab  church  Shanghai  China  retail 
Wutopia Lab have transformed a former church in China into a 388sq m (4,176sq ft) poetry bookstore by installing a large freestanding steel frame that provides shelving and creates a space within a space. The St. Nicholas Church in Shanghai was built in 1932 and has variously been used as an office, a factory, a warehouse, a canteen, a residential space, a club and a restaurant. Its historic status meant
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Around 3,500 steel plates weighing a total of 45 tons (41 tonnes) were used / CreatAR Images
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Company profile: Robert D. Henry Architects + Interiors
Robert D Henry Architects (RDH-Architects) was founded in 1990 in New York City by Bob Henry, known as the “sensuous architect of serenity.”
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