First Sight Bookstore of Pingjiang Wonder / Shanghai Tianhua Architectural Design

The Curtain Wall Reflecting the Sunlight. Image © Jianghe Zeng The Curtain Wall Reflecting the Sunlight. Image © Jianghe Zeng
  • Architects: Shanghai Tianhua Architectural Design
  • Location: 777 Liansheng Rd, Gusu Dist., Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, China
  • Architect In Charge: Rudan Ye, Jing Zhang, Hucheng Yuan
  • Design Team: Jinshan Chen, Tianyu Jin, Xin Wang, Peng Liu, Guangyuan Zhu
  • Area: 1800.0 m2
  • Project Year: 2018
  • Photographs: Jianghe Zeng
  • Drawings: Huazao Architectural Design
  • Landscape Design: Lucas Design Group
  • Interior Design: Ricky Wong Designers
  • Curtain Wall Consultant: Suming Decoration
  • Lighting Consultant: LDPi
  • Client: Southern Jiangsu Firm, Yango Group Co. Ltd
Exterior. Image © Jianghe Zeng Exterior. Image © Jianghe Zeng

THE NEGATION OF NEGATION
According to the law of “the negation of negation” in Hegel’s Science of Logic, the result of self-sublation is never nothing, but is characterized by new contents and forms. Such dialectic speculation forms the basic design logic for this building.

The very first building of the whole city complex. Image Courtesy of Shanghai Tianhua Architectural Design Co., Ltd The very first building of the whole city complex. Image Courtesy of Shanghai Tianhua Architectural Design Co., Ltd

The building sits in the core area of the flourishing new town of Pingjiang, Suzhou. For the city, the building will be an exclusive experience center and a remarkable bookstore. But to the architects, being both a splendid city landmark and modest humanistic site has characterized the building to be the carrier of conflicts and contradictions.

A Piece of Delicately-Cut Crystal. Image © Jianghe Zeng A Piece of Delicately-Cut Crystal. Image © Jianghe Zeng

HIGHLIGHT AND HIDE
To hide it into the 500,000 square meters of a titanic city complex, or to highlight its independent characteristics within the tiny 1800 square meters? That is the first speculation we have.

The lower part of the transparent building. Image © Jianghe Zeng The lower part of the transparent building. Image © Jianghe Zeng

As the first building amid the city complex turned from obsolete houses and farmlands, we expect it to stand out in the mess and pioneer in the new town. After the completion of the entire city complex project, we hope it can remain culturally unique and serve for the local community. But how to define it properly? An icy cluster of metal or a soothing piece of jade?

Interior. Image © Jianghe Zeng Interior. Image © Jianghe Zeng

Rounds of negations directed us to shape it like a delicately-cut crystal, which is solid, soothing and strong. Dividing the building horizontally into 2 parts, we faceted the upper part and battered the sliced facades by a vertical angle of 4-6 degrees toward the sky, while we make the lower part open and transparent and fit it into human scale for better integration into the streets. Thus, both parts can naturally merge into the different stages of development of the new town.

Interior. Image © Jianghe Zeng Interior. Image © Jianghe Zeng

EFFICIENT AND EXQUISITE
Carlo Scarpa treated seriously even the smallest detail of his Castelvecchio Museum in Vicenza. A building is perceived through the quality of its details. But when limited by time and cost, how to guarantee a precise and detailed exterior design is another speculation we have.

Analysis diagram Analysis diagram

Although modernistic aesthetics favors complete glass curtain walls, wouldn’t it be a lot more breathtaking if tints and shades of light flow above the surface of the building? The Rose Cut, one of the diamond faceting method in the Renaissance, inspired the combinations of inlaid triangles. The apexes of each triangle glass are tilted in with a specific angle, forming the slight ups and downs on the exterior and reflecting the daily and seasonal variations of the sunlight.

First Sight Bookstore of Pingjiang Wonder_Exterior. Image © Jianghe Zeng First Sight Bookstore of Pingjiang Wonder_Exterior. Image © Jianghe Zeng

However, challenges arose during the construction of this specially designed curtain wall, for example, the stress problem of the apexes that increases the fragility of the glass, and the flattening of the large glass panels sized 5m*1.8m. After systematic research and close collaboration, the unique diamond-like exterior took shape eventually.

Daily and Seasonal Reflection of the Sunlight. Image Courtesy of Shanghai Tianhua Architectural Design Co., Ltd Daily and Seasonal Reflection of the Sunlight. Image Courtesy of Shanghai Tianhua Architectural Design Co., Ltd
Analysis diagram of light and shadow Analysis diagram of light and shadow

EPILOGUE
The building has been completed, but it is far beyond the building itself. To the architects, nothing is more precious than the design process full of contradictions, speculations and negations.

Exterior. Image © Jianghe Zeng Exterior. Image © Jianghe Zeng