In an article for The Guardian, Turner Prize winning ceramic artist Grayson Perry has written for the first time about his “plans for a Taj Mahal in Essex.” The designs for the House for Essex, which have been realised over the last three years by FAT and led by Charles Holland, are of a “secular chapel” in the heart of the southern English countryside. The building was commissioned by the Living Architecture Project, which is headed by Alain de Botton and are the proprietors of property designed by the likes of Peter Zumthor, MVRDV, and David Kohn. This, their fifth foray into experimental collaborative architecture between architects and artists, is set to open its doors for holiday letting this year.
The scaffolding has come down, revealing the first glimpse of FAT‘s extraordinary A House For Essex. Designed in collaboration with British ceramic artist Grayson Perry and commissioned by Alain de Botton’s alternative holiday rental project Living Architecture, the house will be the final built work that FAT complete. The bejewelled two bedroom dwelling, topped with a shimmering golden copper alloy roof and clad in glinting green and white tiles, sits in the rolling landscape of Essex – Charles Holland (FAT) and Perry’s home county. Adorned with sculptures integrated into a wider narrative that spatially recounts the life of a fictional character called Julie, the barn-like shape, bold colours and decoration has not simply garnered widespread attention but has also captured people’s curiosity.
Find out more about the project in an interview with the architect after the break.
Better known for his books and television documentaries, which address the importance of philosophy in our daily lives, Alain de Botton is founder of “Living Architecture,” a company which rents holiday homes designed by renowned architectural practices like: MVRDV, NORD, Jarmund/Vigsnaes, David Kohn Architects and Peter Zumthor. It was while writing the book “The Architecture of Happiness” that the Swiss/British philosopher had this idea. He has also been designated honorary fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects, in acknowledgement of his services to architecture.
Hugo Oliveira: Architects like Alison and Peter Smithson believed that they could transform people’s lives for the better through architecture. Is this sort of innocence important?
Alain de Botton: The Smithson’s ambition is terrific. The problem is that architects can’t change the world until they become developers. At the moment, the best of our architects are merely hired jesters designed to enliven the egos and bank balances of large property developers.
We’ve been bringing you coverage of the Living Architecture’s vacation houses and now we’re excited to share news that Living Architecture and Artangel are organizing a competition to build a new, temporary, one-bedroom structure on the Queen Elizabeth Hall on the Southbank Centre in London. The Room will allow up to two guests at a time a chance to spend a unique night in an exemplary architectural landmark overlooking London and will be available for the duration of the Olympic Year, 2012. The competition is open to any architect or architect teamed up with an artist/engineer or designer from across the world. Design proposals are expected to be bold, ingenious and intelligent, for residents and London alike. The deadline is November 30, and the shortlist announcement will be December 10.
More details here.
Set for completion this October, NORD Architecture’s Shingle House will be part of the Living Architecture vacation houses, a project aimed to enhance the public’s appreciation of architecture. For their project, the young practice responded to the site’s strong winds and incorporated a modern take on the typical shingle homes that are scattered across the area.
More images and more about the home after the break.
Although Peter Zumthor’s success is undisputed in the architecture world, it was interesting he would tackle a residence for Living Architecture as his past works have gracefully unfolded after years of development. For Zumthor’s project, entitled A Secular Retreat, the architect employs his signature strategy of using nature as a source of relaxation. The hill-top retreat is a quiet and passive design, truly taking the backseat to the surroundings. The home is designed to exploit the beauty of its location, capitalizing on views and providing perfect places for reflection. The home, Zumthor’s first project in the UK, is the perfect residence of the Living Architecture projects to visit for some peaceful downtime.
More images after the break.
As promised, we are starting our coverage of the Living Architecture houses beginning with MVRDV’s Balancing Barn. We first shared this project awhile back on AD, and now, since the home’s completion, we have new interior shots of the rent-able residence.
More about the home and more interior images after the break.
With all the projects we feature, it becomes second nature to envision yourself occupying that space if not only to critique its success, but also to merely imagine what it would be like to live there. But, what if, instead of just daydreaming about living in a certain residence designed by your favorite architect, you could actually spend a week or two in a house designed by Peter Zumthor, or JVA, or even MVRDV? Living Architecture, a new not-for-profit organization, offers the chance to rent houses in different areas of Britain for a vacation starting at £20 per person per night. ”We are dedicated to introducing you to the best of contemporary architecture, as well as to curating unique and enjoyable holidays,” explained the organization.
More about Living Architecture after the break.
Our friends from MVRDV sent us their latest project with Living Architecture, the Balancing Barn, a cantilevered holiday home near the village of Thorington in Suffolk, England. Living Architecture, a British organization devoted to architecture as experience, has commissioned a series of outstanding holiday homes in the UK. MVRDV and co-architect Mole Architects from Cambridge will create a house sympathetic in spirit and materials to the exceptional natural site, which will be available for holiday rental from 2010.
More images and architect’s description, after the break.