The Catalan firm of architects RCR Arquitectes is faced with the challenge of realising the desire of the award-winning writer Javier Cercas, to give it shape and transform it into a wooden object.
When asked what the object of his dreams was, Javier Cercas´ first reaction was to feel privileged; this is not the sort of question people are asked every day. His second reaction was to lament the fact that his wife Merce wasn´t present at the meeting, as according to the writer himself, “she knows what I want better than I do myself”. Nevertheless, he then decided that his dream was to have a comfortable armchair in which to conduct the two activities that take up most of his time: reading and writing.
Based on this first conversation, RCR came up with a solution which goes beyond a simple armchair: this is an object which enables one to move seamlessly between different activities such as relaxing, meditating, reading and thinking. This interpretation enables Cercas to forget what is happening around him and to create the ideal atmosphere to inspire him and in which to write.
RCR Arquitectes are focusing on two key elements: on the one hand, nature, which will provide inspiration, representing the form and the bearer of beauty and symbolism; and on the other, anthropometry (the scientific study of the measurements and proportions of the human body), as the dimensions and proportions of Javier Cercas´ body will define the object.
RCR arquitectes are convinced that the material is crucial to the design and, by means of a combination of manual and technological making techniques; it will result in a piece which is not just visually pleasing, but one which can be experienced with all the senses.
Doctor in philology, Javier Cercas has worked as a professor of Spanish literature, first at the University of Illinois and then in the University of Girona, a career he has combined for years with his vocation as a novelist.
In 2001 he published Salamin Soldiers, which was a runaway success inside and outside of Spain, garnering glowing praise from personalities such as Mario Vargas Llosa, George Steiner, J.M. Coetzee and Susan Sontag. Since then, he has been dedicated exclusively to writing; he occupies a leading position in the Spanish narrative and intervenes strongly in the cultural and political debates in the country through his articles in the press, avidly followed by a broad swath of readers (he is a regular contributor to the newspaper El Pais).
Author of international renown, the work of Cercas is characterised by the bold exploration of the boundaries between reality and fiction (he himself has defined some of his novels as “real stories”); always with a view to scrutinise of the present day and its key themes.
Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem and Ramon Vilalta have been architects since 1987 and in 1988 they founded RCR ARQUITECTES in their hometown, Olot. They are winner National Prize of Culture in Architecture from the Generalitat de Catalunya 2005, Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres de la République Française 2008, honorary members of the American Institute of Architecture (AIA) 2010, honorary members of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) 2012 and Gold Medalists from l’Académie d’Architecture Française 2015.
From 1989 they have held an advisory role as architects at the Natural Park of the Volcanic Area of La Garrotxa and they have been teaching Urbanism and Landscape Architecture (1989- 2001, Vilalta) and Architectural Projects (1992-2004, Pigem), having written several essays about architecture and landscape.
They have won various international competitions, including El Estudio and Mas Miró in Mont-Roig del Camp, the Park of the Camino Condal in Barcelona, the Media Library of Waalsekrook in Belgium, the Soulages Museum in France, the Crematorium of Hofheide in Belgium and The Edge Bussiness Bay in Dubai. They have also been awarded distinctions for some of their works, including the International Spanish Architecture Award 2015 for the Soulages Museum, the International Award of the Belgian Building Awards 2011, nine FAD Awards (Foment de les Arts Decoratives) and three shortlisted works at the Mies Van der Rohe European Union Architecture Awards.