Once a small village of 10,000, Shenzhen was designated as China’s first special economic zone (SEZ) in 1979. That business-friendly status helped supercharge the area’s economy, and its population has skyrocketed to nearly 11 million.
In keeping with its burgeoning size, Shenzhen recently became home to the 800,000-square-foot Book Experience Mall, which occupies roughly two city blocks. That complex was designed by the Shanghai office of Seattle-based Callison, which describes the project as the world’s largest retail center dedicated exclusively to books, music and art.
“Book Experience is part of Shenzhen’s transformation from a small border town to a world-class cultural metropolis,” says Yan Yang, principal and general manager of Callison’s China practice. “Its unique merchandising and entertainment concept, along with its central location in the city’s cultural district, provides book and music lovers with a destination to shop and socialize in one location.”
To fulfill those dual missions, designers gave the center a circular layout with retail and entertainment “zones” surrounding a central main bookstore, and provided spaces for lectures, book signings, author readings and performances adjacent to the selling areas.
To help integrate the mall with the surrounding cultural district, it is connected to adjoining buildings by a series of roof-top garden walkways.
Client: Shenzhen Publication & Distribution (Group) Co., Shenzhen, China
Design: Callison, Shanghai – Yan Yang, principal and general manager; Martin Anderson, principal; Paul Makowicki, principal; Trent Fleming, associate principal; Saijun Xue, associate; Tony Yang, associate; Jennifer Carlisle, associate; June Whipple, associate
Photography: Courtesy of Callison, Seattle