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Living Architecture commissions carefully designed and thought-provoking domestic houses, to be rented by the public over a period of days and nights. It aims to promote, educate and influence discussion about modern architecture, and provide an immersive holiday experience, created by some of the most relevant architects and artists working today.

Living Architecture was founded by Alain de Botton in 2006, with the wish to enhance the appreciation of modern architecture, whilst providing the opportunity for an exceptional holiday experience, in a space designed by an outstanding architectural practice.

Director - Mark Robinson has been with the company since the beginning, working alongside our architects and construction teams to ensure we can bring our guests the best in contemporary architecture. 

Operations Director - Judith Simo, leads a dedicated team of house managers and head office staff to ensure our guests have a wonderful holiday, and (hopefully) take away some design inspiration from each of the houses.

With our most recent house opening, Secular Retreat designed by Peter Zumthor, we continue in our mission to bring the latest in contemporary domestic architecture to both our loyal following and to a future new audience.  

About the Architects

John Pawson

John Pawson

Life House@johnpawsonnews

John Pawson is a British architectural designer whose work is known for its minimalist aesthetic. Pawson’s work focuses on ways of approaching the fundamental problems of space, proportion, light and materials.



Balancing Barn@MVRDV

The architecture practice MVRDV was set up in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, in 1993 by Winy Maas, Jacob van Rijs and Nathalie de Vries. Working in close collaboration, the three principal architects produce designs for cities, individual buildings and landscapes. Early projects, such as the headquarters for VPRO and the WoZoCo Housing Complex for the elderly in Amsterdam, brought MVRDV to the attention of a wide field of clients and gained the firm international acclaim. MVRDV has an interest in simple, down-to-earth solutions, that nevertheless have a great sense of humour and humanity about them.

Peter Zumthor

Atelier Peter Zumthor

Secular Retreat@peterzumthor

Peter Zumthor is best known for the following projects: Kunsthaus Bregenz  in Austria (1997); the cave-like thermal baths in Vals, Switzerland (1999); the Swiss Pavilion for Expo 2000 in Hannover; the Kolumba Diocesan Museum (2007), in Cologne; and the Bruder Klaus Field Chapel, on a farm near Wachendorf.

The practice was founded in 1979, and is based in Haldenstein, near the city of Chur in Switzerland. Peter works with a dedicated team of around 30 employees.

FAT Architects

FAT Architects

House For Essex@FATArchitecture

FAT had one of the most provocative and challenging voices in UK architecture for over twenty years. Their previous projects included the BBC’s new production village in Cardiff, a civic centre and park in 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 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 Project continued to be overseen by Charles Holland.

Hopkins Architects

Hopkins Architects

Long House

Hopkins Architects have been at the forefront of British architecture since the practice was established in 1976. Their track record for delivering buildings of the highest architectural excellence, combining innovative design, craft, and environmental responsibility, has been the key to their continuing success. Their work has been widely acclaimed by both architects and the public alike and their projects have won most major architectural awards. Apart from their large portfolio of projects in the UK, in recent years their international work has increased with projects in Greece, Japan, Dubai, India and the USA. The firm works from a self-designed campus in Marylebone, London.

Jarmund/Vigsnęs Architects

Jarmund/Vigsnęs Architects

Dune House

JVA, established in 1996, is a young Norwegian practice responsible for building a series of highly accomplished, modestly-priced houses in Oslo and its outskirts. Past projects include working with the Norwegian Ministry of Defence in 2006, Galleri Trafo (Norway) in 2006 and the Oslo School of Architecture in 2002.

David Kohn

David Kohn Architects

Room for London@davidkohnarch

David Kohn Architects is a London-based practice established in 2007, working internationally on arts, education and residential projects.

Excellence in design is pursued through collaborating closely with clients, consultant teams, contractors and end users. Innovation is cultivated through office-based and academic research into materials, construction techniques and the cultural contexts of each project.

DKA is currently delivering major projects for the V&A, New College Oxford, and the ICA. Past projects include A Room for London in collaboration with artist Fiona Banner, the White Building in Hackney Wick and an award-winning restaurant at the Royal Academy of Arts.

Mole Architects

Mole Architects

Executive Architects@MoleArchitects ‏

Mole Architects have undertaken the role of executive architect on three Living Architecture projects; Balancing Barn, Dune House and Secular Retreat. They continue to advise Living Architecture, in addition to running a very successful practice.

Based in Cambridge and founded by Meredith Bowles in 1997, the practice has been marked out by its distinctiveness, originality and personality. Mole makes buildings described by Elle Decoration as ‘not just green but gorgeous’, expressing a commitment to cutting-edge sustainability alongside a passion for colour, form and material quality. Mole’s ethos combines innovation and common sense, and celebrates individuality.

NORD Architecture

NORD Architecture

Shingle House

NORD (Northern Office for Research & Design) was founded by Robin Lee and Alan Pert in July 2002. In 2005 NORD was included in the Architects Journal exhibition ‘40 Under 40’ at the V&A, which showcased the pick of the UK’s young practices. NORD are currently working on projects varying in scale and budget across a range of sectors that include residential, commercial, domestic, retail and leisure, as well as interior and exhibition design.

Design Team

Structural Engineer

Jane Wernick Associates (all houses)

Cost Consultant

Boydens Group (Balancing Barn, Long House, Shingle House, Dune House)

KM Dimensions (A House for Essex, Life House, Secular Retreat)

Environmental Design

Atelier Ten (A House for Essex, Life House)

Transsolar, Integration UK (Secular Retreat)

ZEF Ltd (Long House, Shingle House)

Landscape Design

Jonathan Bell (Life House)

Rathbone Partnership (Secular Retreat)

Deakin Lock (A House for Essex)

Interior Design

Studio Makkink & Bey (Balancing Barn)

Main Contractor

Seamans (Balancing Barn, Long House)

Willow Builders (Dune House)

Rose Builders (A House for Essex)

Ecolibrium Solutions (Shingle House)

J A Morgan (Life House)

Woodmace Concrete Structures (Concrete Frame – Secular Retreat)

Simon Cannon Ltd (Construction Management – Secular Retreat)

Specialist Fabricator

Millimetre (A House for Essex, A Room for London)

Darwen Terracotta, Szerelmey (A House for Essex)

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