Traditional made-to-order timber sliding sash windows, casements and French doorsets from the Conservation™ range have been specified in A House for Essex as part of Alain de Botton’s series of rentable holiday homes. In this daring and provocative collaboration between FAT Architecture, the award-wining practice with an international reputation for delivering outstanding projects, and leading contemporary artist Chelmsford-born Grayson Perry, this iconic building has been described by some as a ceramic-clad gingerbread temple in Essex. Indeed, a cross between a Thai wat and an Essex barn, A House for Essex has delivered its promise as one of the most intricately layered concoctions the practice has produced.
The design of the property, located in Wrabness close to the Essex coast, relates to a number of influences including Stave churches, arts and crafts houses, and English baroque architecture. It embraces decoration, ornament and symbolism in order to tell a rich and complex story.
The interior features a number of Perry’s handmade ceramic pots and tapestries that depict the fictional life of Julie which he describes as an ‘Essex Everywoman’. Visitors pass through a series of unfolding spaces before entering the chapel which is concealed behind two ‘hidden’ doors. Indeed the chapel itself is organised around a striking decorative object, part medieval rood screen, part baroque façade, that frames a ceramic statue of Julie. Upstairs the two bedrooms, with views to east and west, have walk-through cupboards that lead to internal balconies overlooking the chapel space. The exterior is clad in more than 1900 green and white ceramic tiles cast from originals made by Perry.
The made-to-order timber Conservation™ products feature Victorian-style sash windows, with spring balance operation, which are adorned with fixed curved semi-circular fanlights to emphasise height and magnitude. Coordinating Conservation™ casement windows and doors feature a contemporary-style moulding. All products have been finished in purple red, RAL 3004, with a single doorset supplied in yellow. Triangular casements were also designed and manufactured by Mumford & Wood. Finally, the sliding sash windows are positioned in the gold roof, in pairs of diminishing size, running from front to back of the house.