The eighteenth-century English water gardens were often designed with playful intent. Picnicking visitors would be surprised as fountains spouted without notice and perplexed as they stumbled upon mysteriously evocative structures like gazebos and banquet halls. At Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Park in Yorkshire, home to one of the world’s best-preserved water gardens, these historic botanic and architectural follies—or, impractical, playful forms—were once abundant. Today, they’re being reinterpreted through equally whimsical contemporary art installations.
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.