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.
We began by looking at all sorts of things that I liked such as Russian churches and Japanese temples and shrines. My first ideas looked a bit Hobbity, or like something from Game of Thrones: ramshackle with lots of turrets. But as time went on we began to get closer to what it would finally be. I had always wanted it to look like a chapel with bits added on to it, symmetrical and quite small, a Fabergé egg of a building. And I wanted it to be highly ornamented, so we looked at pargetting, relief plasterwork on thatched houses, usually of hunting scenes or heraldry, which you see in the quainter parts of north Essex. The green drawing shows some of these ideas, but they were eventually parked because they were impractical, and we decided on tiling the exterior, which was when all parties agreed we had got it right.