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White Cube architects planning 500-home Damien Hirst eco-town

MRJ Rundell + Associates is poised to submit an outline application for 500 new homes as part of an ‘eco-estate’ for artist Damien Hirst in Ilfracombe, North Devon

The Kentish Town-based practice, which designed the White Cube Gallery, declined to discuss this project. However, reports in the local press say the firm recently presented plans to the public for the ‘ambitious’ proposal which could start next year.

Hirst, who is famous for exhibiting a Shark pickled in formaldehyde, owns a number of properties in the seaside district including Winsham Farm where the homes would be built.

According to The North Devon Journal, Mike Rundell of MRJ Rundell + Associates told the meeting: ‘I’m a representative of Damien Hirst. He owns 40 per cent of the land we are talking about.

‘As you know, he is a very successful artist and has very high ambitions for this project. He has a horror of building anonymous, lifeless buildings. He wants these houses to be the kind of homes he would want to live in.

‘Damien is a local developer. He lives locally, shops locally, owns local businesses and his children go to local schools. He cares about Ilfracombe and wants this project to have a positive effect on the town.

‘He wants these buildings to be landmarks that will stand the test of time and create a blueprint for quality, environmentally sustainable developments across the country.

‘Ilfracombe will be a pioneer and Damien is incredibly excited about it.’

He added: ‘If the council insists on a very high level of affordable housing within the development, the overall quality of the homes will drop.

‘We believe that if you bring wealth, energy and business to a town like Ilfracombe, it will have far wider social benefits than simply, say, introducing a youth club.

‘You have to ask yourself the question do you want cheap housing or do you want to attract business and money to allow the town to grow?’

The practice designed Jay Jopling’s White Cube Gallery at Mason’s Yard in London and the 2011 RIBA Award-winning West Buckland School near Barnstaple.

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