Living Architecture wants anyone with enough cash for a vacation to be able to rent a wild-eyed masterpiece, from a house that looks like a uncut gemstone, to a barn whose back half hangs over a hill.
The rental scheme got started with the recognition of a problem facing contemporary architecture fans the world over: Almost no one can afford a custom home by a master architect, and residential architecture is really the most intimate way to see an architect's mind at work. So they commissioned five houses by leading architects, scattered across choice plots in the English countryside. Two of the architects are superstars of the first order: MVRDV and Peter Zumthor, winner of this year's Pritzker Prize. Another is Hopkins Architects, a leading British firm. The last two are young architects, just getting their start: Jarmund and Vigsnæs Architects out of Norway, and NORD, from Glasgow.
Similar concepts in vacation rental exist—"destination clubs" like Solstice offer high-rollers time share access to a portfolio of properties, for a yearly membership fee. But Living Architecture is perhaps the first to make starchitect-designed homes available to the general public. Rentals will begin in 2010. Here's the portfolio:
The most dramatic house is by Dutch firm MVRDV. The barn looks innocuous enough from the from side; but out back, half of its 100-foot length cantilevers over a hillock, thanks to an ultra-rigid frame and, presumably, buried counterweights. The resulting covered outdoor spaces must be one of the most terrifying in the world:
Hopkins designed a much quieter building, which attempts to meld the English country-house vernacular with a high-modernist design aesthetic:
Situated on a windy hill in Kent, the house by NORD uses the traditional, local materials: The entire exterior will be black-tarred shingles. The geometry outside is austere, but inside, they've promised a fantastical geometric composition, in timber and concrete:
Jarmund and Vigsnæs Architects love experimenting with zinc and copper. Their house has a copper roof and a painted facade. The jagged roof lines echo the surrounding houses
Peter Zumthor offers a house that seems lifted straight out of Britain's prehistoric past: A jagged hill-top retreat made of unfinished stone slabs.
[Via Living Architecture]