In upstate New York, on 40 Waldenesque hectares of pond and woods, stands a striking modern home. A little over 60 metres away, a smaller, secondary structure offers another kind of luxury: complete quiet. Immersed in its natural surroundings, this 51-square-metre writer’s studio is defined more by what’s not there than what is. While it is essentially a single room with a bathroom, its details set it apart – both the formal elements that introduce variations to a simple box, and the finishes that give the space its character.
Architects Cooper Joseph Studio approached the building like a single sculpture or piece of furniture, adding a few subtle gestures to bring visual interest to the large, open volume of the main interior. Each corner of this rectangular room is defined by a unique feature. For example, the entrance to the room, which passes beside the lavatory, is a massive sheet of glass, complemented by a transom, admitting light and views into the woods. And opposite, the roof cantilevers dramatically over a frameless corner window that offers a panoramic view through the woods and out over the nearby pond.
Details, too, are spare, in order to emphasize the site. For instance, in the bathroom, a custom wash basin features a recessed drain, entirely hiding the plumbing, and the rain showerhead fixed to the 3.5-metre-high ceiling is virtually unnoticeable when not in use. And, for a dose of high drama, a huge sheet-glass window amplifies a connection to the outdoors. Throughout the rest of the studio, locally sourced black slate is abundant; as a counterpoint, walnut is applied in varying finishes.
Perhaps the biggest visual gesture, a massive stone-lined fireplace anchors the end of the room. This balances the custom-made desk – a must for any writer’s studio – assembled with oblique angles to complement the orthogonal lines running throughout the rest of the structure.