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First images of Grayson Perry and FAT home in Essex


FAT and Living Architecture have released the first images of the completed exterior of their collaboration with Grayson Perry in Essex

The two-bedroom holiday home, A House for Essex, overlooks the Stour estuary and is FAT’s last completed project in Britain.

The building is designed as a ‘secular chapel’, and like many projects by Perry – the cross-dressing ceramicist – it explores British mythology and folklore. The house’s design reflects a narrative about an Essex ‘everywoman’ named Julie, according to the architect.

‘It’s an amazing project because it comes out of somewhere which most projects don’t come out of,’ said FAT co-founder Sam Jacob. ‘Grayson was thinking about how his kind of ideas might be scaled up to a building. It is his tribute to the muddy flats of Essex. This is referenced all over the building – from its tiles on the outside to its weather vane and the furniture inside. It’s all telling a story. It’s a sort of imaginative context rather than a literal one.’

FAT director Charles Holland – now of Ordinary Architecture – said that the building, along with the practice’s British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale this year, were a ‘very fitting’ conclusion to the practice’s work.

He said: ‘The British Pavilion was about an attitude to recent British Modernism - a big part of FAT’s approach. This project seemed to be, on a professional level, the maximum version of what we’ve pursued in terms of decoration and symbolism. A return to the importance of that.

‘As a final piece of architecture, which looks at the role of an explicit narrative, it seems hugely fitting. And on a personal level it’s very moving that it is in Essex, the landscape I grew up in. It’s a very nice personal narrative for me as well.

‘I think the building is an incredibly rich mix of art and architecture and it’s difficult to think of comparable recent examples. It’s all been conceived as both an artistic narrative and a practical part of the house, from door handles to roof sculptures.

‘New buildings in the countryside often try to hide away. It makes a joyous statement about buildings in the landscape and a history of follies, chapels and landmarks.’

The building’s main structural elements were finished earlier this year, with its tiling completed over the summer. Perry will now oversee the installation of artworks in the building’s interior. The holiday home will be available for rent from early next year.

The building’s story will be explored in a Channel 4 series to be broadcast early in 2015.


Project data

Location: Wrabness, Essex
Type Of Project: A House for Essex
Client: Living Architecture 
Architects: FAT
Landscape Design: Deakin Lock
Structural Engineers: Jane Wernick Associates
M&E consultant: Atelier Ten
Quantity surveyor: Puneet Dhawan, KMdimensions Ltd
Main contractor: Rose Builders 
Selected subcontractors and suppliers: Millimetre (interior joinery); Shaws of Darwen (tiles); Szerelmey (cladding subcontractor); FMJ(roof)
Funding: Private 
Tender date: May 2013 
Start on site date: August 2013
Completion date: January 2015
Contract duration: 1
6 months 
Gross internal floor area: 190m² 
Form of contract and/or procurement:
 Standard JCT
Total cost: Confidential 
Specific environmental targets: CSH level 3

A House for Essex - North Elevation



Readers' comments (3)

  • To my mind it shows a complete lack of vision and real imagination and is probably not that nice to be inside of with regard to light, windows and views.

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  • it looks like a structure that would appear in cbeebies 'in the night garden'

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  • I think it looks great. Well done Grayson. I don't like everything he does, but I think this is a nice, imaginative, entertaining building.I do wonder a bit about how the interior space works and how functional it is, but for looks, a lot of architects could learn from it. It reminds me of the Christian churches in Kerala (India) which are structurally similar to our own, but made colourful and decorative...like religion could be fun. Architecture could be a lot more interesting if today's architects had some idea of decoration as a virtue!

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