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Yangzhou Shi, China

The Yangzhou Zhongshuge

Mirrored floors and arched shelves create the illusion of an infinite tunnel of books. 

A bookstore and library in Yangzhou, China has created a bibliophile’s dream. Black mirrored floors shimmer beneath arched shelves that stretch to the ceiling, creating the illusion of a never-ending tunnel of books.

A zig-zagging gap prevents the top of the shelves from touching. When reflected on the floor below, the lighting bolt shape, which represents a river, acts as a pathway to entice visitors to drift deeper within the building.

People who pass through the tunnel can pause to pluck books from the shelves. Those who carry on trekking through the trippy optical illusion will find additional architectural gems at the end.

The tunnel leads to a children’s reading room. Here, a series of LED lights turns the ceiling into night sky freckled with stars that twinkle above bright, whimsical shelves. There’s also an adult reading room full of curvy architecture and, of course, more books to browse.

The Shenghai-based architectural studio XL-Muse designed the tunnel, which was completed in 2016. They drew their inspiration from the city’s closeness to the Yangtze River and its abundance of arched bridges.