Most writers need a quiet space to gather their thoughts and work. Tapping into this need for solitude, Oslo-based Rintala Eggertsson Architects designed ‘In Praise of Shadows,’ a minimalist writer’s studio built primarily of timber and suspended in the air on the grounds of the Maison de l’Écriture, a literature institute in Montricher, Switzerland. The compact timber cabin takes inspiration from the cross in the Swiss coat of arms for its geometric form and is lifted into the air beneath a curvaceous and porous roof.
The In Praise of Shadows cabin was developed as part of the Maison de l’Écriture’s writer’s residency program. Rintala Eggertsson Architects was invited — along with 16 other architecture practices — to take part in an international design competition; a total of six designs were chosen. Rintala Eggertsson Architects’ studio was built with a structural steel frame fitted with three layers of insulation to ensure energy efficiency. The cladding and the interior walls were made entirely from lightweight timber.
“Shaping a space for a writer is a demanding task, as it has to stimulate the creative process on one hand and represent a firm framework for the physical needs on the other,” Rintala Eggertsson Architects said. “These seemingly distant opposites don’t need to out-compete each other, but rather enter into a dialogue where the shift from black to white is a journey in itself. In our design proposal, we tried to emphasize this connection between the bodily functions of the inhabitant and the mental tasks he or she will take on.”
The interior is split into four half-levels with floor space varying from 86 square feet to 183 square feet. The service areas, which include the water and heating equipment, are located on the lowest level. The toilet and kitchen are placed on the next half-level near the entrance, while the living room is just above. The writer’s room can be found on the top-most floor. The cabin’s windows were carefully oriented to allow natural light and views while preserving privacy.
Images by Valentin Jeck