From The Guardian, by golly, YES
Oh, my beloved Billy bookcases, I fear I will never look at you the same way again. I am in a free-standing, multi-storey wooden tower comprising a spiral staircase and walls composed of open shelves lined with 6,000 books. Designed and constructed by Rintala Eggertsson Architects it's called The Ark and is part of the V&A museum's 1:1 Architects Build Small Spaces exhibition. Dagur Eggertsson himself, on the video playing, likens it to "a gigantic Ikea bookcase" – but, my dears, it is so much more.
From the outside, it looks cold – the unstained wood is pale and the paper edges of the books white – but inside the books' spines turn it into a warm riot of colour.
I ascend the stairs cocooned by books. Books, books, books. Every few floors there is a little alcove seat to rest and read in. I feel like an intellectual Rapunzel ("Could you piss off, valiant Prince, until I've finished Wolf Hall?"). I am so happy. I could stay here for ever.
"I really like it – it is very cosy," agrees 20-year-old Clare McCrann, an architecture student from Manchester University. "I'd love to be able to make something like this. Especially as all my books are stacked up on my floor."
Natasha Mitchell and her partner James Broad, both 24, are equally beguiled. "It's your ideal structure, really, isn't it?" James says. "Wood and books." "I'd love one," confirms Natasha. "But it wouldn't fit."
There's the rub. It may show how much can be done in a small space. It may be an impressive feat of engineering – even if it does tend to sway a bit. And it may even, as the museum blurb says, "investigate how small spaces can focus our energies and thoughts in moments of study, meditation and self-reflection", though I can't be sure because the sentence keeps making my eyes bleed.
But to a book lover it inspires an unfulfillable yearning. Because rare is the person – especially the person who keeps converting all disposable income into hardbacks – who has the wherewithal to install a five-storey, walled spiral staircase in her house. What it needs, I realise, as I fold myself into the top floor reading nook with an Elizabeth Taylor, is to become a house itself. Quadruple the footprint, pad the seats, replace The Time Traveller's sodding Wife with a microwave, and it becomes the bibliophile's paradisaical starter home. Until then, the Billys and I will just have to make do with each other.
Rintala Eggertsson Architects - 'Ark' construction from Architects Build Small Spaces on Vimeo.