• Shanghai Expat Assoc

Books Above The Clouds


Shanghai Tower, tallest building in Shanghai, 3rd tallest building in Asia

By Karen Collias

If you want to spend an interesting afternoon with family and friends, visit the Duoyun Bookstore, "Books above the Clouds," on the 52nd floor of Pudong's Shanghai Tower, the city's tallest building. I recently visited the bookstore, and there I saw the end result of a design project spearheaded by Shanghai-based Wutopia Labs.


Whimsical cloud art throughout the space

This cultural space has a bookstore with lots of nooks for reading, a lecture room, and exhibition space. It dazzles the visitor with a maze of mountains and valleys of translucent bookshelves interrupted by a ‘Tiffany’ blue and a pink dessert house, connected at either end to glass viewing spaces to view the vast skyline of Shanghai.


Buying coffee and tea in the Tiffany blue-themed cafe

Wutopia Labs, which finds its inspiration in “magical realism,” aims “to create miracles in daily life based on GLOCALIZATION.” Native Shanghainese and main architect, Yu Ting, adheres to the philosophy that “all design comes from love of life.”

Since founding Wutopia Labs in 2013, Yu and his colleagues have based their projects on that philosophy plus a bit of whimsy. You can make your imagination come true,” he says.


Spend time expanding your mind and imagination

Imagination is certainly on display in the 284foot (239 meters) space. China’s highest bookstore boasts more than 60,000 books resting on two thousand tons of sleek shelving.


I spent some time in the space and can attest to its comfort and beauty. The book collection is massive, with tomes from Japanese anime to classical Greek philosophy. While there are the requisite titles by past and present PRC leaders, the range of books would impress any reader. Perusing various parts of the library, you find art, literature, history, and politics – from Caravaggio to Jane Austen, to Thomas Jefferson andto Nelson Mandela.

The Chinese appear to be avid readers. Toddlers, curious kids, teenagers, and adults browse the mountains and valleys where they find lots of cozy places to sit or stand to read. They migrate to the viewing area where they can admire Shanghai’s impressive skyline. They drink coffee or tea at strategically placed cafes.


Everyone can find a space...

A couple of Germans and I appeared to be the only westerners exploring the store on a sunny Saturday afternoon. I guess we added to the Glocalization sought by the designers. That was okay. It gave me plenty of time to people-watch, choose some books, and watch the Chinese take selfies and group photos, which seems to be a favorite thing to do.


This is a perfect place to spend some time with family and friends, especially with the approaching holidays.It’s a creative and well-designed space that can make your imagination come true.

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The Shanghai Tower is located at 501 Yincheng Rd (M) in Pudong. Use metro line 2 to Lujiazui station. Take exit 6 and walk 500 meters south. Alternatively,, take bus 583, 799 or 939 or Lujiazui Financial City Loop line 2 to Lujiazui Huanlu Dongtailu station and walk there. Or, go by the Dongjin or Dongfu ferry lines to Dongchang Rd and walk to the skyscraper.

Photos ©KarenCollias


About the Author:

Karen Collias is an international educational consultant who concentrates on creative solutions to challenging global issues such as equal access to education and social mobility. She currently lives in Shanghai with her husband, discovering China and Asia through travel and study. Karen is the founder of Knowledge Without Borders™, a website that explores ideas and innovations in human creativity to enhance educational experiences in the United States and throughout the world. Visit us at http://www.knowwithoutborders.org



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