Livraria da Vila


3 of 5 stars
What’s this?

This astonishing example of retail architecture in Sao Paolo, Brazil — designed by local architect Isay Weinfeld — is probably the most visually stunning commercial space I’ve ever seen, and certainly the most impressive book selling environment. If it’s real, that is. The pictures make it seem ingenious, futuristic and ideal, which makes me wonder how (and whether) it really works in practice as a bookstore. Still, there’s no denying: the pictures are beautiful.

Livraria da Vila


  1. Indeed, it is real. The bookshelves you can see they turn around 90░ in order to make for the store’s entrance. In the picture above, the store was closed. Usually I don’t like this sort of architecture, but this one really pops up into my eyes whenever I stroll in front of it here in Sсo Paulo.

  2. I wish that my city (Bath, UK) would realise that it needs to live in the future and not in the past and embrace new architecture like this, it’s wicked! Cheers Matt.

  3. Sorry folks, I didn’t mean to imply that it’s not real. Of course it’s real. What I meant was that I wonder if it works as well as the photographs advertise. I’m generally suspicious of architecture that looks so inventively cool at first glance, for fear that it won’t really bear out in actual use. I mean, it’s neat that the front doors are bookshelves that swing open — but is it practical? What happens when it rains?

  4. Good question. I’ll try to check that. If it rains and the doors are closed, of course, no problem, because they’re protected by glass, but when they’re open… I never noticed if the other side is somehow also protected. As for the concept, seems to work for what I could see when I went there a few times. Actually, that model is based on a few bookstores that opened in Sсo Paulo over the past decade or so, they just stretched it to include the architecture, much the way Livraria Cultura did when it was remodeled in Conjunto Nacional, even though they were less “adventurous” than Livraria da Vila.

  5. The bookshop is gorgeous. Although I admit that in these pictures it acquires a dramatic, almost unreal, character. But that is true of almost all great architecture.

  6. @Mat Clarke

    Bath is an absolutely stunning place architecturally. The buildings are a beautiful and Bath itself has to be amongst the most beautiful places in England. I have to say it was a pleasure to have spent my years at university studying in that fine city.

    Don’t forget that they have a long cultural and archtechtural heritage to protect in Bath and rightly so. I live in Cheltenham near Gloucester and apparently long before i had lived there Gloucester was a beautiful town with cobbled streets and an appearance akin to that of York. It was decide sometime in the 70’s that all the cobbled streets should be ripped out in an effort to modernise, the place looks horriffic and dated, what a terrible shame.

    That said I think Bath would embrace some modern architecture but only if its sympathtic to the existing buildings and local area.

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