First photographs of Grayson Perry
and FAT's house for Alain de Botton


News: structural work has completed on A House for Essex, the holiday home designed by British artist Grayson Perry and London architecture firm FAT for Alain de Botton's Living Architecture project.

Plans for A House for Essex, which sits on a plot surrounded by meadows on the east coast of England, were first unveiled in 2012.

A House for Essex by Garyson Perry and Fat for Living Architecture

Scaffolding has now come down to reveal a house with a facade clad in ceramic tiles and a four-part roof topped with large cast-aluminium sculptures by Perry and FAT.

More than 2,000 bespoke tiles were cast from originals by Perry for the outside of the building by specialist firm Shaws of Darwen. Copper alloy panels were used to create the standing seam roof.

"The exterior of the house responds to this contemporary romantic landscape, forming something that is both ancient and modern, archetypal and imbued with narrative," said architect Charles Holland of FAT when the plans were unveiled. "It is a hybrid building, part house and part gallery."

A House for Essex by Garyson Perry and Fat for Living Architecture

The design for the building, which overlooks the Stour Estuary in Essex, was inspired by eccentric houses across England, as well as fairytales and pilgrimage chapels.

"The idea behind this project relates to buildings put up as memorials to loved ones, to follies, to eccentric home-built structures, to shrines, lighthouses and fairytales," explained Perry. "There are much loved buildings all over the county and the country built in the same spirit."

A House for Essex by Garyson Perry and Fat for Living Architecture

Inside, two bedrooms on the first floor will have balconies overlooking a double height living room, and a bath suspended over the entrance.

Work on the interior, which will also feature tapestries, mosaic floors and ornamental pots created by Perry, is still ongoing and the house is due to be completed later this year.

A House for Essex by Garyson Perry and Fat for Living Architecture

The house was created for Living Architecture, the holiday rentals organisation created by philosopher and critic Alain de Botton to commission celebrated architects to design contemporary houses for the UK, and will be available for bookings from Spring 2015.

It will be the last project to be completed by FAT, the London Postmodernist architecture firm run by Sam Jacob, Sean Griffiths and Charles Holland. The partners announced plans to split in December last year after 23 years.

A House for Essex by Garyson Perry and Fat for Living Architecture
Long section – click for larger image

"We think this is really the completion of the FAT project which began many years ago, with no intention that we were starting an architecture office and the 'glittering careers' we would have," said Jacob, who is also a columnist for Dezeen.

Other projects in the Living Architecture series include a house that cantilevers over the edge of a hill and a boat-like structure on the roof of London’s Southbank Centre.

  • Wow!

    Wonderfully crazy!

  • Guest

    Pawson and Zumthor must be sick with envy.

  • Tutu

    Sign me up for some of that! Fantastic!

  • Matt

    Looks better in person. Their best yet.

  • James Briano

    I’ll make a pilgrimage to see this in person. Wonderful!

  • Carrie Behar

    Reminds me of St Basil’s in Moscow’s Red Square!

  • Juan

    Ugliest house ever.

    • Jimmy

      No shit Sherlock.

  • Hugo Hardy

    So glad this was built. I hope the people who opposed this can now appreciate this lovely eccentric building and support good design over the drab status quo.

  • John

    Perfect swan song!

  • davvid

    Pretty incredible. Ugly in a way too. But I admire how daring and well executed it is.

  • GG

    Russian Dolls meet Covent Garden.

  • georgia abraham

    I want one! Love it.

  • Carlb

    Mauvais gout at its highest. England wins!

  • Michael Swanson

    SOMEONE isn’t afraid of ornament.

  • Nicolás Ortiz

    Yeah, why not?

  • Love it or hate, Postmodernism is revived with British eccentricity. I just wish they used a fancier cladding. They could’ve afforded it as they splurged on the roof. But it’s still adorable.

  • James Burt

    Looks fantastic. Can’t wait to see it in the flesh.

  • Iikka Keränen

    So delightfully ugly, I love it! They’re shamelessly thumbing their noses at architectural fads and mainstream curators of taste.

    • Guest

      But for what cause?

  • oldschool

    Wow. Looks like the car Homer Simpson designed. That is not a good thing.

  • Olly B-B

    Utterly bonkers! But I love it.

  • Concerned Citizen

    One can only hope for a sinkhole under the house. Looks like Gehry and Hadid got married.

  • ThomasV

    About the same level as his book on architecture, which is total rubbish. It’s about time Mr. de Botton finds himself a new hobby. Funny to see that if there are a couple of high-profile names involved, people here start to applaud people like this.

  • Mr Walnut Grey


  • spadestick

    Illuminati eyesore special. Most councils would definitely approve of this on paper, which only proves one thing… With such stunning ornamentation we can finally get rid of the nimbyism of councils. Submit in hot pink!

  • Kate Kincaid

    Love it! Just as well as we live next to it, and just to put the record straight the villagers, on the whole, feel quite proud to have this unique building in the parish. I just hope not too many will come and visit as its down a narrow lane with NO PARKING at the bottom, unless you care to park in our garden – NCP rates and clamps will apply!

  • Kay

    Good God, could this have been any uglier.

  • eipertti

    I was wondering what kind of house de Botton would commission ever since I saw his programmes about architecture. He has championed both traditional religious architecture and modernism, while condemning the inappropriate use of some historical styles in residential architecture, the hideous pseudo-Edwardian residential areas of Britain, for example.

    Apparently this peculiar design, which looks part Orthodox church, part New Age spiritual headquarters, is supposed to represent an amalgamation of his tastes for the historical and the modern. It’s a bold concept but I find the results disappointing.

    I also don’t agree with de Botton’s ideas about religious architecture because the same basic elements in religious buildings which he deems important have been used in all sorts of large-scale public buildings for centuries. It seems that he wants to drag religion into the picture just to be provocative as an atheist who sees positive aspects in religion, but his argument ends up being quite superficial and inconsistent with architectural history.

  • TravelOrr

    I love the Honda Cub over the living room!!

  • Andrea

    My first impression is of the “Its A Small World ” ride at Disney Land.
    I sort of like the form, can’t find any appreciation for the cladding of shiny contrasty tiles. But I do support the idea that especially for smaller structures, people should be able to have more freedom in what they choose to build.