Installation at the Nordic Pavillion
Common Ground, Architectural Biennale in Venice 2012


John Sanden
Olav Kristoffersen
Geir Brendeland

Pasi Aalto (Model builder)
Sunnset Bandsag

Between 1914 and 1950 the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889–1951) lived and worked alone for long periods of his life in a hermetic and primitive cabin in Skjolden, Norway. The Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus and other texts were written in this cabin. The cabin was removed after he died, and only the foundations are left on the site. The installation presents the idea of his room.

The external appearance of the installation is a solid wooden cube with a keyhole centered on one of its sides. The spectator is invited to put on a set of earphones and peer through the keyhole. The roughly cut exterior, treated with wood smoke, is primeval, abstract, and exotic (as experienced in Venice) and encourages feel, smell, curiosity.
Behind the keyhole is a precise scale model of a room, seemingly carved out of the massive wooden cube. The room is furnished with a simple table and a chair. One of the walls has a large window showing the view from the actual site of Wittgenstein’s cabin filmed from a fixed position, with changing skies, light, and moving trees. The room is lit only through this window.

The installation conveys ideas about solitude and exile, and correspondences and differences between center and periphery in Europe. It presents site and history as a starting point for architectural production, as well as ideas about architectural representation and scale. The installation is based on an architectural approach that we have employed in many of our built architectural works, with a sober, calm, and essential organization of interior spaces, spatial proportions, direct relations with the site, and use of basic materials with a strong presence.