The Chinese city of Xi'an is continuing its emergence as a center of architecture and design with the YJY Maike Centre Flagship by Japanese designer Tomoko Ikegai of IKG Inc. This bookstore and commercial center has a warm, modern feel that places books and learning at the center. Wishing to evoke the feelings of a library and gallery, Ikegai marries both concepts across two levels and nearly 50,000 square feet (4,500 square meters) of space.
Looking to create an ambiance where people, cultures, and books from around the world could mingle, a literary theme runs throughout the interior. Visitors are instantly brought into the concept as they are welcomed by a 33-foot-tall bookcase just inside the entryway—a bold statement that immediately establishes the function of the building. This is carried through to the delightful lighting above the open spiral staircase, which mimics floating pieces of paper just waiting to be filled with words.
“Libraries are spaces for learning and valuing independent time, while galleries serve as intellectual spaces for displaying culture,” IKG Inc writes. “The design blends elements of both and also incorporates features of palace architecture in order to encourage visitors and the store to collaboratively exchange and develop creative ideas.”
Ikegai also took cues from Japanese and Chinese palaces by playing with the scale of the space and the arrangement of interconnected rooms. Intimate seating areas and rich wood tones keep the interior cozy, providing balance to the grand scale of the architecture.
The second floor of the YJY Maike Centre Flagship acts as a lobby for the Grand Hyatt, which runs on the upper floors. In keeping with the idea of hospitality, there is also a coffee bar to encourage socializing. This level plays to the Ikegai's gallery concept. Low ceilings, dark flooring, and display boxes set into a 165-foot-long “Book Street” all help evoke the atmosphere of a gallery while tying into the bookstore below. Specially commissioned artwork reflecting themes appropriate to the location and Xi'an's rich history round out the experience.