Miguel Vieira, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Miguel Vieira, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

7 Bookstores Too Beautiful For Words

Miguel Vieira, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Miguel Vieira, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

For voracious readers, a beautiful bookstore ranks up there with ocean views and new-baby-smell in the relaxation department. In honor of National Book Lovers Day, take a look at these seven examples of paginated paradise.

1. Libreria El Ateneo Grand Splendid // Buenos Aires, Argentina

Formerly a 1920s-era performance and movie theater, the Grand Splendid was the home of tango stars like Carlos Gardel. Everything inside has been repurposed: The box seats have been converted to reading nooks, while the stage is now a cafe. Visit in the afternoons and you might get to hear someone at the piano taking advantage of the building's amazing acoustics.

2. Livraria Lello & Irmão // Porto, Portugal

Remind you of Hogwarts? You’re not alone. Former Porto resident J.K. Rowling is rumored to have been inspired by this sprawling bookstore, which features a winding, split staircase, an art gallery, and a tea room.

3. Livraria Cultura // São Paulo, Brazil


Part of a shopping plaza, Brazil’s largest bookstore features four levels, including a “geek mezzanine” for comics readers; rows of bleachers encourage idling. 

4. Selexyz Dominicanen // Maastricht, Holland

With the kind of grandeur available only to 700-year-old churches, the Selexyz is a place of book worship. Frescoes decorate the ceiling, and a cross-shaped table sits in the store’s café.

5. Atlantis Books // Oia, Santorini, Greece

Craig Walzer and Oliver Wise were touring Greece in 2002 when they decided it would be a good idea to open a bookstore in one of the famed white houses nestled in the rock cliffs of Santorini. The shop has a rotating staff that actually lives on the premises; the upper-level deck (shown above) has a terrible view, but somehow visitors get by.

6. Poplar Kid’s Republic // Beijing, China

Like cats, children enjoy stuffing themselves into tight spaces. Designers took that into account in developing the Poplar bookstore, which incorporates little circular reading spaces and bright color accents.  

7. Carturesti Carusel // Bucharest, Romania

Carturesti Carusel via Facebook


Six stories of books, books, and more books populate this 10,760 square foot establishment, which opened earlier this year. Formerly a bank building, the store appears to be a thriving business when it's not being seized by communists.

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Morfeus Arkitekter. Photo: Silja Lena Løken / Statens vegvesen
Norway Opens Another Spectacular Roadside Bathroom
Morfeus Arkitekter. Photo: Silja Lena Løken / Statens vegvesen
Morfeus Arkitekter. Photo: Silja Lena Løken / Statens vegvesen

Norway’s National Tourist Routes will change how you think about rest stops. As part of a decades-long program, the Norwegian government has been hiring architects and designers to create beautiful roadside lookouts, bathrooms, and other amenities for travelers along 18 scenic highways throughout the country. One of the latest of the projects unveiled, spotted by Dezeen, is a glitzy restroom located on the Arctic island of Andøya in northern Norway.

The facility, designed by the Oslo-based Morfeus Arkitekter, is located near a rock formation called Bukkekjerka, once used as a sacrificial site by the indigenous Sami people. The angular concrete and steel structure is designed to fit in with the jagged mountains that surround it.

The mirrored exterior wall of the bathroom serves a dual purpose. On the one hand, it reflects the scenery around the building, helping it blend into the landscape. But it also has a hidden feature. It’s a one-way mirror, allowing those inside the restroom to have a private view out over the ocean or back into the mountains while they pee.

The newly landscaped rest area near the bathroom will serve as an event space in the future. The Bukkekjerka site is already home to an annual open-air church service, and with the new construction, the space will also be used for weddings and other events. Because this is the Arctic Circle, though, the restroom is only open in the late spring and summer, closing from October to May. Check it out in the photos below.

A bathroom nestled in a hilly landscape
Morfeus Arkitekter. Photo: Hugo Fagermo / Statens vegvesen

The mirrored facade of a rest stop reflects concrete steps leading down a pathway.
Morfeus Arkitekter. Photo: Hugo Fagermo / Statens vegvesen

A person stands outside the bathroom's reflective wall.
Morfeus Arkitekter. Photo: Hugo Fagermo / Statens vegvesen

A wide view of a rest stop at the base of a coastal mountain
Morfeus Arkitekter. Photo: Trine Kanter Zerwekh / Statens vegvesen

[h/t Dezeen]

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Snøhetta
Norway's New Hotel in the Arctic Circle Will Produce More Energy Than It Uses
Snøhetta
Snøhetta

A new hotel coming to Norway’s section of the Arctic Circle will be more than just a place to stay for a stunning fjord view. The Svart hotel, which is being billed as the world’s first "energy-positive" hotel, is designed to “set a new standard in sustainable travel,” according to Robb Report.

Built by a tourism company called Arctic Adventure Norway and designed by Snøhetta, an international architecture firm headquartered in Oslo, it’s one of the first buildings created according to the standards of Powerhouse, a coalition of firms (including Snøhetta) devoted to putting up buildings that will produce more power over the course of 60 years than they take to build, run, and eventually demolish. It will be located on a fjord at the base of Svartisen, one of the largest glaciers on Norway’s mainland and part of Saltfjellet-Svartisen National Park.

A hotel stretches out above the water of a fjord.
Snøhetta

The design of the hotel is geared toward making the facility as energy-efficient as possible. The architects mapped how the Sun shines through the mountains throughout the year to come up with the circular structure. When the Sun is high in the winter, the terraces outside the rooms provide shadows that reduce the need for air conditioning, while the windows are angled to catch the low winter Sun, keeping the building warm during cold Arctic winters. In total, it is expected to use 85 percent less energy than a traditional hotel.

The sun reflects off the roof of a hotel at the base of a glacier on a sunny day.
Snøhetta

Svart will also produce its own energy through rooftop solar panels, though it won’t have excess energy on hand year-round. Since it’s located in the Arctic Circle, the hotel will have an abundance of sunlight during the summer, at which point it will sell its excess energy to the local electricity grid. In the winter, when it’s too dark for solar energy production, the hotel will buy energy back from the grid. Over the course of the year, it will still produce more energy than it uses, and over time, it will eventually produce enough excess energy to offset the energy that was used to build the structure (including the creation of the building materials).

“Building in such a precious environment comes with some clear obligations in terms of preserving the natural beauty and the fauna and flora of the site,” Snøhetta co-founder Kjetil Trædal Thorsen explains in the firm’s description of the design. “Building an energy-positive and low-impact hotel is an essential factor to create a sustainable tourist destination respecting the unique features” of the area.

Svart is set to open in 2021.

[h/t Robb Report]

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