The latest project from U.K.-based Living Architecture, an organization founded by writer Alain de Botton that commissions leading architects to design out-of-the-ordinary holiday rentals in the U.K., is the House for Essex, a collaboration between FAT Architecture and award-winning, cross-dressing English artist Grayson Perry.
The mission of Living Architecture is to give the general public the chance to sleep, eat, and briefly live in spaces designed by professionals whose efforts are usually reserved for large public spaces and high-end residential projects, expanding general appreciation of architecture at an accessible price point that starts at 20 pounds ($31) per person per night.
Located in Wrabness near the Essex coast, the House for Essex is inspired by medieval Stave churches, arts and crafts houses, and English baroque architecture.
Designed to be a landmark in the tradition of a pilgrimage chapel, the structure is dedicated to a fictional, secular saint named Julie Cope, described by the artist as an “Essex Everywoman.”
A House for Essex is both a vacation rental and a permanent gallery for a series of specially commissioned works by Perry, including handmade ceramic pots and tapestries depicting Cope’s imagined life.
The building’s exterior is clad in more than 1,900 hand-cast tiles that the designers say depict Julie as mother and icon.
She appears again on the roof in the form of a giant beacon and weather vane.
Charles Holland of FAT said in a press release that the house is “like a richly encrusted and highly decorated barn, with a healthy dose of Essex bling thrown in.”
Perry described the project as “a golden chance to realise a long held ambition to build a secular chapel,” calling the design “bonkers yet dignified” and “a total art work, a fiction in which you can live, a digital age shrine” as well as an homage to his and Holland’s home county.
“I hope the people who stay in the House for Essex find it playful yet monumental, cosy and maybe slightly disturbing,” he said. “It is a three dimensional musing on religion, local history, feminism, happiness and death.”
The two-bedroom house sleeps up to four. For stays in June, July, and August, a prospective guest must enter a ballot by midnight British time on May 26 and keep her fingers crossed that her ticket is picked.