Liberated Reading Cube

Liberated Reading Cube

Cliffs Impasse

Antonin Ziegler builds an extension into freedom for literature enthusiasts.

Extensions are a sensitive matter. On the one hand, they should go well with the existing building, on the other, when you are already building an extension anyway, you want something new and modern. The fine art of designing an extension, of course, is to combine the two with each other. So you either approach the existing building formally and with new materials or there is a material approach with a new form. Remarkably, Antonin Ziegler goes neither way with his “Cliffs Impasse” project but creates something entirely different.

The reason for this might be that the clients were not exactly happy with their existing building. For, although their small country house was already situated at the “end of the world”, meaning almost on the edge of a cliff, they did not feel isolated enough. At the same time, these enthusiasts of the written word felt cramped by books piling up all around them. Hence, they desired a place where they could read, write and dream in peace.

Total Break

If constriction was the essence of the wish to expand, the extension appears like a true liberation, for it is a total break with the architecture of the existing building in all respects. Formally, it is a one-storeyed cube that is accessed via a small flight of stairs from the country house. The actual desired room (a library) is situated on the upper floor which corresponds with approximately two thirds of the extension’s height. Below, there is a garage.

Everything is made of timber, inside and outside. The outer cladding, however, is blackened – the only element, by the way, that somehow refers to the existing building with the slate roof showing a similar colour. Two rows of bookshelves fill the interior from the wall facing the house. Apart from that, the interior is mostly dominated by partaking in the outdoor area through gigantic openings in the façade: the east wall is one single window followed by a row of windows along the north side and another very large window to the west.


Considering this reading retreat showing an almost unmatched openness, one wonders how the initial desire of isolation should be understood. Maybe the total break with the existing building will give us a clue. It is as if it was not about the isolation from physical things such as noise or seeing and being seen, but rather from the physical reality itself. The extension thus appears like a door from this reality to literature. A “fantasy place” that breaks in every respect with the conventional to provide a smooth transition into the literary world.


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