A sort of futuristic floating treehouse hangs among artificial steel trees in a striking sculptural canopy at the Maison de l’Ecriture in Switzerland. Phoenix-based architecture firm Blank Studio envisions the ‘House of Writing,’ a small residence promoting and encouraging literary creativity. The dramatic structure looks out over the Alps, a lake and the surrounding countryside.
Designed in response to a competition sponsored by the Jan Michalski Foundation, a Swiss prize for literature, the writer’s studio nestles within an existing complex of steel pilots under an organically patterned canopy.
Within this canopy are scattered cabins which “‘left up their feet so as not to trample upon the garden,'” explains the architect of the Maison, Vincent Mangeat. “Writers who love solitude will find spaces for life and work. In all sorts of other places, they will find spaces for exchanges and for sharing life… with this, we believe that we have created a space that offers the ideal ‘climate for writing’ that Jan and Vera Michalski dreamed of as being central to the project.”
Blank Studio’s design includes a writer’s loft on the uppermost level to take advantage of the soaring views, and a lace-like stainless steel skin around indoor/outdoor spaces that collect and disperse the available daylight. The inside is lined with bleached birch wood and black-stained oak.
“Blank studio was invited to participate in this competition to design of a small residence or cabin to promote and encourage literary creativity. The residence is suspended high above the ground by cables from an existing, open-weave concrete canopy to afford views to the Alps, the lake, and the surrounding countryside of western Switzerland. The dwelling would be for short-term stays, anywhere from one month to one year, giving the writer full access to the large adjacent library, auditorium, exhibition areas, and communal dining. “
“The proposal is a lean, glassy structure that is divided into three levels. The lowest level is for entry, food preparation and dining, and for entertaining guests. The center of the building is an open, thoughtful space, bordered by stairs that access the sleeping area on the next level, and ascend to the uppermost level where the writer’s loft is located, affording prominent, elevated views of the countryside. Internally, the residence is lined with bleached birch wood on the walls and ceilings, and black-stained oak for the floors and stairs. To respond to the existing buildings use of white concrete, we propose wrapping the building in a satin-etched, translucent glass and satin-finished, stainless steel to softly collect and disperse the available daylight.”