The heart of Chengdu’s cultural life beats inside venues whose sweeping architecture enhances the activities within. From books to music and contemporary art, the city’s most interesting players have created spaces where spending time and exploring feels natural. Many of the city’s neighbourhoods are increasingly becoming home to cultural players that are bringing new sparks of creativity into the community – here are three cases in point. Be it because of innovative models or dedication to bringing China’s cultural highlights to the world, some have attracted interest and attention from beyond the country’s borders.
This enormous bookshop inside the shopping area of Taikoo Li is a benchmark for how to do publishing retail well. Award-winning Fang Suo Commune operates several beautiful outposts across China but Chengdu’s has to be among its most impressive: hop on the escalator inside this two-storey structure and you’ll descend into an awe-inspiring, copper-hued basement propped up by imposing concrete columns. While the walls are lined with thousands of titles from China and beyond, on the floor you’ll find displays of plants, fashion, homeware and international magazines. There’s a café to encourage lingering and a space for exhibitions and talks. Last year the chain also opened Fang Ting Commune, a smaller address in the Jinniu district – an inviting place that is open until 22.00.
Many concert halls are feats of architecture and engineering, and Chengdu’s is no less. Comprising a large auditorium, opera hall, theatre and smaller concert stage, the structure was completed in 2019 and was designed to host all kinds of performances, from classical music to pop. Bonn-based organ-maker Klais supplied the metallic centrepiece for the hall and the acoustics are perfect.
Across the 1,000 sq m making up commercial gallery 1,000 Plateaus, you’ll find exhibition halls and a screening room, which house the various mediums chosen by its represented artists. Founded in 2007 by Liu Jie, the gallery deliberately focuses on discovering and fostering emerging artists from China, which is why it engages in art education courses and publishing projects, and participates in a number of international art fairs, including Art Basel in Hong Kong and Liste in Basel. Here you’ll find paintings by Yang Shu, photographs by Chengdu-based Feng Li and more.