Kokaistudios designed the beautiful Alt-Life Bookstore located in Ningbo. It celebrates space fluidity and variety, organic geometries and the notion of circulation as a journey, the ultimate ‘people mover’, the drive capable, through curiosity, to spark and sustain life in public spaces as well as in commercial venues. Take a look at the complete story below.
From the architect: A goal we shared with our client since the project’s inception was to design ‘a place for people to linger and spend time in’, where the core function of books’ appreciation was to be complemented and integrated by a wide variety of activities, enabling customers to sit and read, to study, to take part in workshops or live events. A thorough experience, in other words, aspirational and transcending the simple selling of products; a new lifestyle destination for Ningbo and the region.
A double height small auditorium and event space and a section dedicated to children were part of the program together with a teahouse, a juice bar, a coffee shop, and a bakery. Complicating the task was the fact that some of these areas were to be operated independently by third party tenants (as yet mostly un-confirmed) thus our design had to guarantee flexibility of use and capacity to adapt to multiple programs and brand identities while still being coherent and consistent design wise with the overall concept.
The bookstore is located in the basement of 1844 He Yi Plaza, along the South bank of Yuyaoriver, in the city center of Ningbo. It occupies a L shaped lot entirely underground. The program is articulated on two floors, the existing B2 (1600m2) and a newly added B1 mezzanine (800m2) for a resulting total gross floor area of near 2400m2 and is organized into three different main areas: the bookstore itself, an area dedicated to new technologies, food and beverage and a flexible public space located at the intersections between the two.
Geometries are fluid and organic. Material and textures are soft and warm in color, inspired to different qualities of paper, material historically and quintessentially related to the essence of books.