Dream La Miro Bookstore by Wutopia Lab Epitomises a Fairytale Themed Space of Spatial Wonder in Jiangsu, China

Inspired by Neverland from Peter Pan, Wutopia Lab transports one on a journey of fantasy and discovery

So come with me, where dreams are born, and time is never planned. Just think of happy things, and your heart will fly on wings, forever, in Never-never Land!

- J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

Wutopia Lab’s founder and chief architect, Yu Ting shares that when he first received the brief, he initially didn’t want to take it (design a bookstore because he didn’t want to be labelled). However, when the client showed him the IP they had introduced - namely the three animated films created by Italian artist Cristina Làstrego: Mirò the Cat, The Circus, and The Creation - Yu was moved by the magnificent scenes and the imagination created by the artist. He says, “I thought it would be possible to create a fairy tale bookstore like never before, using the origin of life as a base inspiration combined with elements from the other two animations.” Yu continues, “I was tempted to make a blue whale as an entrance in the streets of a European-style town. Eventually, I decided to hide the most dramatic design in the back. I chose the ark as the theme, with the yellow outside and red inside sailing ship docked in the harbour of the book sea. All the fairy tales about the Miro store of Duoyun Bookstore start from here.”

During the site surveys, Wutopia Lab persuaded the client to include the octagonal tower, which was not originally included in the design. By the time they had followed the idea of the ark, the symbolism of this tower stood out. It is the lighthouse that stands in the harbour. Says Yu, “I designed the lighthouse as a library-like book tower. When I was a child, I always thought that behind the bookshelves there was a world like Narnia. At the centre of the tower is a red spiral staircase that connects the two stories of the white book tower. As readers slowly walk up to the first floor and look up to the centre of the sloping roof, they will notice the sun squeezing into the roof. Everything in the room starts with the sun.”

Stepping out of the white Skylight Book Tower is an abstract black forest. A sparse arrangement of black metal rods supports the partially hollowed-out dark metal roof. When the sun shines directly, light weaves through the green gaps and the black ground emerges in shimmering patches of light, as if in a forest. This is the semi-outdoor forest corridor that leads to the main space of Duoyun Bookstore. At the end of the corridor is a cloud gate, a symbol identified at the Huangshan store of Duoyun Bookstore. Looking in through the Cloud Gate, a new world is beckoning. Meanwhile, visitors will also catch the vision of the moon in the cloud gate, and looking back down the path, it's as if a curved moon in the forest is smiling. It corresponds to the very sun at the top of the Skylight Book Tower.

The main part of the Miro store of Duoyun Bookstore is the drawing library on the first floor. Since Yu is particularly fascinated by the idea of separating contiguous rooms within each other to form a type of house within a house under a complete large space, he divided the picture books into four groups according to theme into different individual huts. Inspired by Miro's IP The Creation, he then used different levels of blue to turn the whole drawing library into an ocean. Four of the animals from The Creation, sea creatures, amphibians, birds, and mammals, were selected and abstracted to form the animal-shaped entrances of the huts. The different holes combined with the different coloured perforated aluminium panels form the different facades of the huts, while the inside of the huts is uniformly white. After all, no matter how noisy it is, reading needs to remain quiet. The whole drawing library is a tribute and a spatial interpretation of The Creation.

There is a striking red perforated aluminium panel tent on the terrace outside the drawing library - visitors can notice the flaming tent as they enter from the town square. The tent comes from two sources, The Circus of the Miro's IP and the red flying house on the roof of the Anaya children's restaurant designed by Wutopia Lab several years ago. The carousel in the tent is the recurring symbol of Wutopia Lab's designs about children and dreams, representing a kind of adult childlike spirit that Wutopia lab insists on preserving. The red tent stands quietly on the fluorite floor and when night comes, the fluorite, which absorbs daylight, shines like a starry sky. We call this the Star Garden. The tent on the stars is a child's declaration, "I always want to be a little boy and to have fun."

Wutopia Lab also created rolling 'mountains' with gold perforated aluminium panels on the roof of the drawing library, and a glass house with a wave-tossed ceiling hidden inside the gold mountain. This multi-purpose hall, named the Aozora Lecture Hall, can be used for exhibitions, roadshows, book signings, dinners, and parties. However, Yu reveals what he really wants is someone to contemplate unattached in a plain box inside the brilliant gold - that moment would be his Eden. Also wanting to break through the adult stereotype, Yu reveals he didn’t want to simply design an interior. Fairytales were what gave him ample reason - the tent, ark, mountain, and forest all became means by which he tried to break out of the European style façade. But that wasn't enough. He took a part of a separate hut through the wall and turned it into a balcony on the façade, its hole being the silhouette of the head of Miro cat. The reader in the cat's head seems to have been transformed into a fairy at some point. And the original European-style façade thus looks unreal but real - this becomes the fairy tale.

Further inspired by his daughter’s words in 2015, when she murmured to herself, "I really love this happy world”, Yu shares this ultimately gave him a sense of responsibility and courage to break through the various stereotypes in his design. In many cases, children are our teachers. A bookshop can be an attitude and a declaration of the way we face life. There is no such word as easy in the adult world. But we can do our best to create beauty and keep our innocence. And this is the true meaning of Dream La Miro of Duoyun Bookstore.

Words: Emily Leung & Nikey Cheng
Photos: CreatAR Images
Published on June 08, 2023