Old antiquarian store turned into modern Coffee-house/Bookshop
In our technology-driven age, people’s reading habits, and thus their relationship with printed material have changed a lot. As a consequence, traditional bookstores find themselves in a situation when they are no longer able to serve the transformed needs of their customers. This is especially true for speciality shops dealing with antiquities, paintings, calligraphic publications, and ancient books. Their profile needs to be adjusted in order to keep the audience’s attention and to tickle their fancy to visit their outlet.
This much-needed profile-shift came to effect in the Rong Bao Zhai bookshop in Beijing. Set on the popular street Liulichang, the store has been selling antiquarian prints since the ‘80s. The space was built in a pseudo-classical style that was typical of the age and was due to government unifications for such constructions. In the recent years it became obvious that the characterless space is no longer inspiring for the 21st century customer. Therefore, the bookstore left vintage prints behind and took up a coffee house service beside the contemporary book offerings.
The change in merchandise was of course accompanied with a careful reconstruction of the store interior. Local ARCHSTUDIO designed a clear,and modern space that operates with clean geometrical lines and lots of natural and artificial light. Leaving behind the heavy, crowded, dark layout typical of ancient bookstores, they included custom-built iron bookcases that, in spite of the powerful character of the material, is a light and airy construction. As a nice touch, a great number of the shelves were designed not to hold books, but plants. The abundance of herbs and climbing shrubs adjust the microclimate of the shop and invite customers for relaxation. The coffee-house addition only strengthens this ambiance created for community meetings or private meditation. The 3-level, roughly 300 sqm space is fully capable of housing a coffee corner, and this service is the plus that makes customers return to Rong Bao Zhai time after time.
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