A Rentable Timber-Framed Folly Rises In The English Countryside

Like Airbnb for architecture fans, Living Architecture rents remarkable buildings to tourists. The group recently announced its seventh addition to the roster.

Living Architecture, the UK company that commissions homes from famous architects and rents them to vacationers, has revealed plans for its seventh home. House in Essex promises to be very different from the other six homes the nonprofit offers to architecture fans, playing off the vernacular charm of rural England and the lush visual language of its creator, the much-lauded potter and transvestite Grayson Perry.


Perry worked with London architecture office FAT on the project, which was rejected by Essex’s town council before being granted approval on a second attempt. The two-story timber cabin will be covered in Perry’s work, including murals, tapestries, timberwork, and mosaic floors, all depicting the life and times of a fictional 59-year-old woman named Julie. “The idea behind the project relates to buildings put up as memorials to loved ones,” Perry writes, “to follies, to eccentric home-built structures, to shrines, lighthouses and fairytales.”

The 2003 Turner Prize-winner frequently goes as his alter-ego, Claire, through whom he articulates the strife of his early childhood and adolescence. It seems that “Julie” might be a similar proxy for Perry, especially given that he’s only seven years younger than his fictional subject. He also explains that the home will touch upon the “psyche” of Essex, where he was born and raised. If you’re not familiar with Perry, you should definitely check out his work, which brings together hyper-contemporary pop culture and 300-year-old handicraft in pieces like this incredible tapestry. It’s hard to imagine staying in a home covered in his dense, emotionally raw work. Indeed, FAT’s Charles Holland calls it “part house and part gallery.”

As architecture, House in Essex draws on the English tradition of timber frame houses–with a heavy dose of spatial experimentation. The rooms are framed beneath four gabled roofs. You enter into a small foyer, leading into the three increasingly formal spaces, culminating in a two-story atrium. On the second floor, the two bedrooms have balconies that look out on the atrium, and intriguingly, a bathtub suspended over the entranceway.

Unlike Living Architecture’s other offerings–the Balancing Barn by MVRDV, for example–House in Essex promises to be rooted in a deeply personal place Which seems appropriate, given the ideas put forth by Living Architecture’s founder, Alain de Botton, in his book The Architecture of Happiness. “What we seek, at the deepest level,” he writes, “is inwardly to resemble, rather than physically to possess, the objects and places that touch us through their beauty.”

They expect to open to visitors in 2014, and rates will likely run around $375/night.

[H/t Dezeen]

About the author

Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan is Co.Design's deputy editor.