Lexus recommends: Living Architecture

Have you ever looked at some of the amazing houses on Kevin McCloud’s Grand Designs TV show and wished you could go on holiday there?

If so, the Living Architecture organisation could provide the answer, writes Guy Bird

Take your pick from these three acclaimed structures for starters: A silver-clad cantilevered barn that seems to float above the green Suffolk countryside (above); an ultra modern take on the traditional beach house with uninterrupted sea views in desolately beautiful Dungeness (below); or an old-style ‘holiday boat’ that appears to have washed up on top of the Queen Elizabeth Hall at London’s Southbank Centre.

All are part of the roster of incredible buildings and locations available to rent through Living Architecture (and despite their description and appearance, all are perfectly safe to visit!)

The organisation – of which writer Alain de Botton is creative director – describes itself as ‘a social enterprise dedicated to the promotion and enjoyment of world-class modern architecture’ and over the last few years it has asked a selection of the world’s greatest architects to design houses around Britain and then make them available to rent for holidays all year round.

The costs are reasonable too. The idea behind the project is to make great architecture accessible, not elitist.

So for instance, the amazing Balancing Barn in Suffolk by Dutch architects MVRDV – which extends out from its natural setting with half of its structure suspended in fresh air – houses up to eight people for four nights for £759, or the equivalent of £24 per night per person. It even features a swing under the suspended end to reinforce its floating credentials.

Similarly striking buildings with innovative interiors have landed in Norfolk (The Long House), Kent (The Shingle House) and London (the aforementioned boat, pictured above, co-designed by David Kohn Architects and Damien Hirst contemporary Fiona Banner).

And more are due. Planning permission has just been granted for a pilgrimage-style building designed by the acclaimed FAT architecture practice and artist Grayson Perry for deepest Essex, and another structure is being developed by the Pritzker Prize-winning Swiss architect Peter Zumthor to become a secular retreat in the rolling hills near Salcombe in Devon.

To find out more and make a booking online – there is still a small amount of availability in 2012 but bookings are already being made well into 2013 – go to

Guy Bird is a freelance writer and editor specialising in cars, design and art for the likes of CAR magazine, Wallpaper* and Blueprint. He attends the world’s auto shows from Paris to Tokyo interviewing the world’s best designers and has road-tested the vast majority of vehicles available in the UK over the last 18 years.

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