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Living Architecture Under Construction

March 25, 2010
You may have already heard about Living Architecture‘s starchitect-designed rental houses on the English countryside, a concept that aims to give the “general public” the opportunity to actually live inside of world-class residential architecture. Chaired by Dickon Robinson (former Director of Development of the Peabody Trust and commissioner of the BedZED eco-housing development), directed by Mark Robinson (project manager of the Serpentine Gallery Pavilions from 2000 to 2006), and advised by Alain de Botton, among others, the Living Architecture team commissioned five houses to five leading architecture firms. Now well under construction, we can track the evolution of these stellar houses…and only wonder what the rental price will be. Sigh.

1.  MVRDV | Balancing Barn, Suffolk.

Gizmodo wondered how its 15-meter cantilevered half wouldn’t tip over and squash the girl and idling sheep nearby, but structural engineer (for all 5 projects) Jane Wernick assures that “To stop the building from tipping over the cantilever is counter-balanced with the additional weight of a 400mm thick reinforced concrete slab and a footing.”

MVRDV house

final frame  with designed elements resizedFINAL Elevation  of Structure image Rev B resized

Balancing Barn  Christmas 2009 resized


2. Hopkins Architects | The Long House, North Norfolk.

The leading British firm was inspired by the classic, flint walled barns of North Norfolk. “We hope to achieve a house that is of it’s region, in terms of form and materials, built to the best sustainable practice.” Im guessing (hoping) they only partly demolished what looks like an existing one?

Hopkins house

Long house,  part demolished

3.  NORD | Shingle House, Dungeness, Kent.

Basically a replica of the local vernacular style, the timber and concrete house can be sealed with shutters from the fierce winds, while the prefab base anchors it to the unstable shingle bed.

Shingle House  01 re-sized
Front -  resized

The existing house was taken apart to recycle and re-use the materials.

kitchen interior (resized)


4. Jarmund and Vigsnæs Architects | In-Between House, Suffolk.

Characterized by its complicated roof structure, the concrete, glass and aluminum ground floor relates to the masses of the ground, and the dark stained wooden-clad upper floor reflects the existing gables and sheds common to this seaside area.

e JVA House

Panorama 2 - resized


5. Peter Zumthor | Secular Retreat, Chivelstone, Devon.

For the revered Pritzker-prize-winner, this will be his first project in the UK. Built with what looks like earth-covered, natural stone slabs, the jagged retreat looks prehistoric and timeless all at once. Wouldn’t mind doing some secular meditation there myself.


Concept model -   dining room (resized)

Only Zumthor's concept models have been revealed as of yet

The houses will supposedly be available for rental later this year. For more, visit the blog.

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