Author Studio

This small, 300 square-foot backyard shed was at one time a pre-war chicken coop in this dense Cambridge neighborhood. The owner of the house, a prominent author and professor, commissioned the design of a writing studio and office reusing as much of the existing structure as possible. Further, Cambridge zoning authorities required maintaining the exact exterior footprint and roof height/slope. To accommodate these criteria, we lifted the building up ten feet in the air, poured new foundation walls and added a small vault for mechanical equipment below. Once the building was back in place, we poured a radiant concrete slab for heat and organized the primary writing space around the movement of natural light through the new clerestory glass windows. Also provided is a small bathroom, kitchenette and storage area.

The new writing studio is located in a small but beautifully landscaped backyard and patio, so privacy and views were important to maintain. The building is conceived as a larger painted volume that is materially similar to the main house, but the entry sequence and writing spaces are signified by a natural wood exterior with mahogany windows and roof overhang. High clerestory windows facing the main house to the west maintain privacy.

Services provided included visioning, site study, programming, planning, concept design, schematic design, construction documentation and construction administration.

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Architect of record:
Maryann Thompson Architects (MTA)

Evan’s role:
Project Designer/Manager at MTA

Date completed:

300 sq ft

Peyton Knisley