“Necessary isolation” – can I write here please?

As more and more hours and days pass by, as time evaporates in an instant, disappearing in the blink of an eye…I realise I need to get writing…writing more of my PhD in order to finish by next Summer. I need solid, concrete periods of time rather than the current routine PhD Wednesday spent in a Shanghai cafe, to really get to grips with the seven chapters I have ahead of me. Hopefully if I am successful with getting some final year funding, I can make this happen…but where is the question? I found a few minimal spaces over the past couple of weeks that would be perfect to give me the “necessary isolation”, room to breathe, consider, plan, academicise, theorise, re-interpret, visualise, read, write, and complete the 80,000 word feat…though about 10,000 words are already down (yes!). I think it’s amazing how spaces can really positively change the way you produce, feel and experience creatively. Imagine writing a PhD from here? I already am…views are important to me…seeing the possibility of the unknown and the impossibility of grasping infinite space that is so far away.

The first is a “cube on a hill”, the home office of Peter Frazier from UI Architects, overlooking Chuckanut Bay in Bellingham, Washington. This small construct delivers amazing views of the adjacent land and bay, with glass on three sides and a deck that cantilevers over the slope and forest below. Frazier states ‘I designed my office to be as unobtrusive as possible, to be an uncluttered work space, a guest house that keeps ’em coming back, and an inspired meditation room. It has a green roof so when we see the structure from the house it fits into the forest. When I started as a graphic designer back in the early 90s, the equipment we used necessitated a much larger space. The first system for the business was a Mac Ci, then it was one tower after another, light tables, laser printers, scanners, backup drives, and all that. A few years ago I realized that my laptop and iPhone were all I really needed to run my end of our customer experience consultancy. I could give up my big office and work within a small cube…a cube with a view.’ Frazier is right…right in the respect that all you need now is your laptop and iPhone (a very sad thought in my mind), though I think I’d need my camera, external hard drive, oversized notepad and fountain pen too…I have to be able to write by hand…write with ink. My one problematic with this space is the interior…I’m trying to work out what on earth is going on with the shelving(?). Perhaps this is something that has changed over time…not comfortable in my mind. You can see more photos on his Flickr account here.

Image courtesy of Peter Frazier
Image courtesy of Peter Frazier
Image courtesy of Peter Frazier

The second (set of) spaces I came across were on the architecture-design-photography blog ‘Hovercraftdoggy’…the ‘Treehotel’ located in Harads, near the Lule river in Sweden. These architectural concepts absolutely blew my mind. They are imaginary dream-like, fairytale constructions that I just can’t quite get my head around. Beautiful. Created by a team of Scandinavia’s top architects, the ‘Treehotel’ is called a uniquely designed housing experience where people are given the opportunity to experience nature amongst the tree-tops as all rooms (the cabin, the mirrorcube, the bird’s nest, the blue cone and the UFO) are suspended 4-6 meters above ground. A very important part of the concept was to consider ecological values and make minimal environmental impact, which I feel they successfully achieved. The ‘Treehotel’ was inspired by the film ‘The Tree Lover’ by Jonas Selberg Augustsen…a tale of three men from the city who want to go back to their roots by building a tree house together. It is a philosophic story about the significance of trees for us human beings and how important it is for each one of us to create a place for ourselves where we can feel at home. I constantly feel as though I’m trying to do this, wherever I am in the world. The world can be a place of many homes though right? If I had the money, I’d definitely go and spend my final PhD days here…it’s getting added to my life list NOW.

The final find was the suburban floating tea house built in the backyard of a suburban home in Bethesda, Maryland. Designed by architect David Jameson it is made from bronze and glass. The structure is meant to invoke the image of a hanging Japanese lantern, floating a foot or so off the ground, suspended from steel beams above…it acts as a tea house, a room for meditation, and a stage for family musical recitals. The visitor is meant to ‘occupy the structure as a performer with a sense of otherworldliness mediation’. This space would be perfect for tea obsessed Rachel (further encouraged by the amazing teas in China might I add, not just because I’m British)…perfect for thinking and daydreaming, oh and of course PhD writing. I hope I get the opportunity to spend some of my PhD days in a space like these…also I realised during my 30th year which is unfolding to be quite a story already…one exciting international creative story.

Image courtesy of David Jameson
Image courtesy of David Jameson
Image courtesy of David Jameson


  1. Reblogged this on Monya Neba and commented:
    Yes! I need one of these architectural gems, a place of refuge so I can be inspired by nature. How stunning!

  2. This was fun to read. I’ve become really interested in writing spaces and rituals. I imagined myself writing in some beautiful spaces, and I certainly had access to a ton of them – but it turned out that I was my most productive and focused when working at home in my messy office/study. I started out writing in my university’s beautiful library hall with its gorgeous high ceilings and light streaming in from 30ft windows, but mostly due to having my laptop conk out on me, I ended up having to sit at home at a desktop for what would become Thesis Saturdays. I did it for 2 years, and now that I’ve finished, I find myself still wandering in there on Saturdays not sure what to do with myself. I’ll have to come up with a new ritual…

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