Arctic architects - Rintala Eggertsson

Norway-based Scandinavian architects Rintala Eggertsson are creating a book tower for 1:1 Architects build Small Spaces at the V&A in June

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Video Transcript

Rintala Eggertsson started two and a half years ago in Norway. I think there is a Scandinavian element in our work definitely. We conceive our ideas from our existence. 

Bodø  the main town North of Norway is far above the Arctic Circle so there is no sunlight for two months but it’s very close to nature and it’s really a fantastic place to visit and an inspiration. 

It’s the book store and the library on the second floor, so we wanted to connect those two parts of the museum with a book tower so that you could read the continuity from the stored books to the books that are sold and become eventually a part of every people’s life out there. 

The tower is a bookcase in itself, the first thing you meet is the white backside of the books and they don’t reveal themselves until you get to the inside where you get the spine of the book. I think it is important for us to show that architecture is not a mystical thing. It’s about putting one stick on top of the other like every small child does in the beginning of their life.

The group we have assembled now is highly skilled architects but they have a lot of training with construction. One of them is actually a trained carpenter, so we benefit a lot from that. We have done this for many years. Ever since our studies we have been building structures like this. We hired a workshop in Kent and pre-fabricated all the materials there and transported them to the museum. We have done everything ourselves, from the smallest bit to the largest pieces. It has taken us one week to reach this stage.

The wood is very nice material in that respect. It’s a precise material but at the same time it’s a soft material you can format the way you want and add the pieces together as you want so you can use the resources very nicely.

We wanted books about nature and biology and the things that maybe were the origin of this idea, to take you back to a refuge that was maybe more natural in its’ materiality than the museum is here.

We would try to be very selective in the beginning, but it proved to be quite complicated because we had to source about six thousand titles for this. Some of us were joking about this yesterday, that this was a gigantic Ikea bookcase, probably the worst Ikea furniture that has ever been made. (laughs).


The V&A staged a contemporary architecture exhibition which opened on 15th June 2010, exploring the power of small spaces. From a shortlist of nineteen, seven international architects were selected to design structures which explore notions of refuge and retreat. These buildings which examine themes such as play, work, performance and study will be built at full-scale in various spaces within the V&A. 

The V&A has commissioned seven short films which look at  the architects and their projects. These combine filmed interviews with the architects about their design philosophy and their retreat concept for the V&A with self-shot video footage.

In this film Dagur Eggertsson talks about the background to his architectural partnership and his plans for a striking book tower. The principals of Rintala Eggertsson come from different parts of Scandinavia and are now based in Norway. This film draws on interviews shot when Rintala Eggertsson visited the museum last year and also includes self-shot footage of places in Norway which inspire the practice.