Cross: A Multifunctional Bookstore Blending Cultures

Designed by Xixi Quan, Junming Chen and Kau Chen, Cross is a unique fusion of Chinese and Western aesthetics.

Located in Zhongshan City, China, Cross is a multifunctional bookstore that serves as a cultural hub. Its design, inspired by the concept of "ferry" and "transition" in Mahayana Buddhism, is a blend of Chinese and Western aesthetics, symbolizing the cultural blend of the city. The bookstore has been recognized for its innovative design, winning the Silver A' Interior Space, Retail and Exhibition Design Award in 2023.

The design of Cross is unique and multifaceted. It provides a comfortable space for reading and salon activities, funded by the government with a low construction budget. The aesthetics of the bookstore are a blend of Chinese and Western, modern and classical, simple and colorful. The "Moon Gate and Arch" space partition installation symbolizes the absence of cultural barriers and encourages readers to open their minds. This innovative design led to Cross being voted as the favorite bookstore of 2022 by the citizens.

The realization of the design was a challenge due to the low construction budget. To overcome this, the designers created a virtual warehouse-like space in 70% of the area to save money. The remaining 30% used the parametric plugin Grasshopper to generate numerous changing Chinese Moon Gates and Western Arches. These combine into a large space partition installation to create a solid spatial logic and visual impact. The structure of perforated aluminum panels was prefabricated at the factory to shorten the project time and simplify the site construction craft.

The design area of Cross is about 780 square meters, with the installation covering approximately 245 square meters. It has 48 moon gates and arches, parametrically generated according to each part of space's areas, spans, and functions. The installation frameworks were steel, and the interfaces were made of perforated aluminum plates. The LED light strips embedded in the framework render hard material as soft as gauze.

The colorful "Moon Gate and Arch" define different functional spaces and guide people to find where the desired product or book is located quickly. Color corresponds to a spatial function, and this rule strengthens the reader's memory of the spatial logic, making it difficult to get lost. The rainbow-like gradient color gives a soft and clean visual enjoyment.

The project started in March 2021 and finished in July 2021. The bookstore officially opened in August 2021. The design of Cross was based on extensive research, including the history and culture of the city where the bookstore is located, interviews with target groups, and data analysis of user needs. The data from the analysis was used as the parametric design variables to generate the “Moon Gate and Arch” space partition installation.

The design of Cross faced several challenges, including finding the deep connection between the abstract cultural symbols of Zhongshan City and the connotation of the Cross brand, and solving the contradiction between the low-cost budget and the realization of creative ideas. However, the design team managed to overcome these challenges and create a space that not only provides the public with space for social interaction, reading, activities, coffee, and exhibition in the city but also serves as the medium and contact point for disseminating urban cultural impression.

Project Details and Credits

Project Designers: Xixi Quan, Junming Chen and Kau Chan
Image Credits: Xixi Quan, Junming Chen and Kau Chan
Project Team Members: Xixi Quan Junming Chen KaU Chen
Project Name: Parametric Cross
Project Client: Xixi Quan, Junming Chen and Kau Chan

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