A House for Essex

A House for Essex in Wrabness, Essex is the most recent project by Living Architecture, Alain de Botton’s holiday home company that aims to make world-class architecture accessible to all. Created by sculptor Grayson Perry and Ordinary Architecture’s Charles Holland, (onetime partner in the legendary FAT), A House for Essex is part way house, part secular chapel and part living narrative. If that sounds extraordinary, that’s because it is: a highly ornate ‘pop’ building with plenty of spatial ambiguity. The building is dedicated to the life of ‘Julie Cope’, a character created by Perry to throw light on the stereotypes of Essex. Holland describes the concept as, “a robust everyday life made into a heroic story”. The exterior is clad in exquisite handmade tiles created by Shaws of Darwen from Perry’s originals. The roof and windows are of brass alloy and feature three roof sculptures including a pregnant, naked Julie. Inside the series of highly decorated rooms lead towards the sitting room which also a kind of chapel with a huge altarpiece at one end with a statue of Julie in centre stage, a motorbike chandelier and one of Perry’s trademark pots. There are three tapestries – two in the main room, one in the bedroom – which reveal further scenes from Julie’s life.

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