Wutopia Lab Transforms an Abandoned Orthodox Church Into a Stunning Book Store

In an effort to preserve and transform Shanghai heritage architecture Wutopia Lab has revamped an abandoned church into a poetry book store.
Sinan Poetry Books Store exterior

Shanghai-based architecture firm has revamped the St. Nicholas Church site into a cutting-edge poetry book store. Built in 1932 the building was a Russian Orthodox Church located in the former French Concession of Shanghai. The store will display the biggest collection of poetry books in the city with a collection of 1880 books including 600 foreign languages volumes. Wutopia Lab detailed its vision: “A continuation of Wutopia Lab’s design style, magical realism based on antithesis, perforated steel plates, translucent, uncertain light, color and dramatic poetry can be found in the poetry store,”

Sinan Poetry Books Store interior

In order for the project to start the design firm had to ask for a special authorization from the Shanghai Historic Building Protection Affairs Center. The heritage building now has become the perfect embodiment of merging the past with the present, displaying a beautiful contemporary twist on a historical site. The exterior of the building kept its original splendor, however, the interior saw dramatic changes with a 42-tons steel framework shaped into a church. A church into a church, the inception of a church so to say was one of the main design ideas behind the concept: a place of rest for the sake of the “holy” spirit of poetry to develop your creativity.

Sinan Poetry Books Store interior

The real challenge of such a project is to respect the original structure and transform it into something modern. The design firm had to thoroughly study the site to understand its edge and imagine how a new texture could reshape its design. Wutopia Lab Yu Ting commented: “The first time when I stood at the site, it seemed like a maze of ruins. But after getting accustomed to the darkness, I could identify the historic traces of construction that have been there since its beginning. We have tried to integrate these existing decorations along with modern additions, as one complete entity,”

Sinan Poetry Books Store interior
Sinan Poetry Books Store interior
The transformation process of the building

Shanghai explosive economic growth started in the 80s has reshaped various areas of the city, luckily several heritage sites survived the transformation. Shanghai is showing once more its ability to reinvent itself with new iconic architecture piece. The Sinan Books Poetry Store is a beautiful testimony of the city’s efforts to save its legacy architecture and push the boundaries of contemporary architecture.

Sinan Poetry Books Store side cut
Time for some lecture

If you need a peaceful sanctuary at the heart of the city to read some poetry, this might be the place to be!

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