Lonely Planet Writer

Step inside a real-life Escher piece at this amazing bookstore in China

Bookstores can be magical places, offering education, relaxation, tranquillity, and a space to connect with friends. And while there are countless unique places around the world to get lost in a book, one shop in China has gone above and beyond to create an intriguing experience for visitors, having recently unveiled an M.C Escher-style bookshelf staircase that winds its way around the tall room in a unique blend of form and function.

Chongqing Zhongshuge Bookstore in Chongqing City.
Chongqing Zhongshuge Bookstore in Chongqing City. Image by X+living

Designed by Shanghai-based architectural firm X+living, the 1300-square-foot Chongqing Zhongshuge Bookstore is located on the third and fourth Floors of Zodi Plaza, Yangjiaping in Chongqing City, China. Guests are first greeted by a simple glass façade covered with text, and once inside, there are scattered lampshade-shaped bookshelves that weave their way throughout a dark brown lobby. On one corner of the lobby is a quiet reading corridor with bookshelves extending down the hallway, while on the other corner of the lobby is a children’s reading room, finished in a colourful design with drawings of Chongqing’s landscape, buildings and transportation.

Inside the children's reading room.
Inside the children’s reading room. Image by X+living

Further down the corridor, the children’s reading room is the main study – a ladder hall where the staircase doubles as bookshelves and a mirrored ceiling overhead doubles the size of the room and creates a stunning visual illusion similar to an Escher illustration. The space also allows visitors to rest on the shelved steps as they look through the books.

Lampshade-shaped bookshelves greet visitors inside the store.
Lampshade-shaped bookshelves greet visitors inside the store. Image by X+living

“We utilised the mirror ceiling in order to make the space seem bigger. It is definitely a fantastic real-life experience that pictures simply cannot not offer. It has attracted a huge amount of visitors to the bookshop, nearly 200,000 people have visited the bookshop within the first 15 days of opening. Such big crowds even forced the operator to limit the number of visitors in a day,” a representative of X+living told Lonely Planet Travel News.

Chongqing Zhongshuge Bookstore in Chongqing City
The main room features a mirrored ceiling and winding staircases that double as a bookshelves. Image by X+living

The bookstore also includes a leisure area, where visitors can have coffee and tea.