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A House for Essex is designed to evoke a tradition of wayside and pilgrimage chapels in the landscape. It is a singular building, appearing as a small, beautifully crafted object amongst the trees and fields.
The house does not attempt to mimic the appearance or materials of existing buildings in the local village of Wrabness. Instead, it offers a unique addition. Its materials and forms are sympathetic to the site and the area’s sense of remoteness. For example, hand-made tiles relate tonally to the landscape while the building’s simple pitched roof forms echo simple agricultural buildings and farmhouses.
The form of the house is solid and barn-like. A series of simple, house forms step up in scale from the entrance to the main living room space. Each of these spaces is expressed externally as a volume in its own right. The building gets higher as it steps down the hill with the tallest volume at the lowest point. It therefore presents two different faces, a modestly scaled entrance porch to the south and a taller more formal frontage to the north.
Visitors entering the house from the south pass through a series of spaces that become increasingly formal, culminating in a double-height living room lined with decorative timber panelling and Grayson Perry´s richly coloured tapestries. Upstairs there are two bedrooms which have views across the landscape to the east and west.
The stepping up of the volumes creates a series of interlocking spaces on the inside where each pushes into the other. The first floor bedrooms, for instance, will also have balconies that look into the living room space and the bath offers an unusual location from which to observe visitors in the hallway.
The interior of the house contains a number of specially commissioned art works by Grayson Perry including beautiful tapestries, pots, decorative timberwork and mosaic floors, celebrating the history and psyche of Essex.
You can view a video tour of the house filmed by BBC News. And hear Grayson Perry being interviewed by Will Gompertz on Radio 4's Today Programme (starts at 02:22:38). Read about the project in the Evening Standard, The Observer and The Guardian.
Grayson Perry is one of the UK’s leading contemporary artists. He won the Turner Prize in 2003 and has gone on to achieve enormous critical and popular acclaim. As well as making ceramic pots, tapestries and sculptures, Perry has curated a number of high-profile exhibitions. His 2006 exhibition The Charms of Lincolnshire mixed historical artefacts with his own works to reflect on the county’s culture. His recent exhibition The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman at the British Museum also used objects from the museum’s own collection mixed with specially commissioned new works. A recent Channel 4 television series, All In The Best Possible Taste, followed Perry as he produced a series of artworks based around the issue of contemporary taste, and helped secure his reputation as one of the UK’s best loved artists.
FAT has been one of the most provocative and challenging voices in UK architecture for the past twenty years. Their previous projects include the BBC’s new production village in Cardiff, a civic centre and parkin Hooglvliet, Holland and Islington Square housing in Manchester. FAT’s designs have embraced decoration, ornament and explicit communication to create popular and enjoyable buildings. They have won numerous awards and their work has been exhibited and published worldwide. In December 2013 the practice, led by Sean Griffiths, Charles Holland and Sam Jacob, announced they were disbanding with their final two projects being the British Pavilion at the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale and A House For Essex. Following this, the completion of A House for Essex has been overseen by Charles Holland and Ordinary Architecture Ltd.
- Architect: FAT Architecture
- Artist: Grayson Perry
- Structural Engineer: Jane Wernick Associates
- Quantity Surveyor: KM Dimensions
- Environmental Design Engineer: Atelier Ten
- Landscape Design and Consultant: Deakinlock
- Main Contractor: Rose Builders