Wuhan, China – 40 years ago, China underwent revolutionary economic reform and saw the passing of transformative opening-up policies. The cultural impact was powerful: rapidly globalizing, China sharpened its focus on foreign communities and global society, and it was during this time that Wuhan’s massive Hubei Foreign Language Bookstore was built. The 9,506-sq-m, seven-storey literary mecca has now been reimagined by Wutopia Lab for a new generation.
Wutopia’s architects and designers began the project by investigating the relationship that people had with the original space. Many, they realized, described Hubei in metaphorical terms – as it being a ‘lighthouse or window’ into the ‘outside world’, according to a spokesperson. Thinking of how Chinese people once used signs and symbols to understand their connection with traditional architecture, Wutopia’s creatives challenged themselves to remould Hubei with ‘positive and understandable symbolism’. They hope that the new interiors re-establish a cultural relationship between the space and the residents of Wuhan.