Dutch architects MVRDV’s design for a cantilevered holiday home in Suffolk, UK.

We all admire heroic acts, but this is one I hadn’t expected. Author Alain de Botton (Consolations of Philosophy, The Art of Travel, among others) is commissioning architects to build purposefully experimental homes that he will make available for holiday rentals on a not-for-profit basis. His purpose is to “to help people get over the dichotomy that modernism equals awful and antiquated equals great”.

This is advocacy we need more of. The project was inspired by the Landmark Trust in England, a program that blends vacationing at a beautiful property combined with an educational experience. “You are more than just sleeping there – you are looking around and learning about modern architecture.”

The houses are designed by leading architects from various European countries and are deliberately experimental. The goal was to challenge preconceptions of what constitutes a holiday home in 21st-century Britain.

“The inspiration is the Landmark Trust [which lets interesting historical properties] – for people interested in a good holiday, but also an educational experience while they are in the property,” De Botton claims. He is calling the initiative Living Architecture.

The first group of houses are being designed by MVRDV (Danish), Nord Architecture (Scotland), Peter Zumthor (Swiss) and Sir Michael Hopkins (U.K.)

From an article in the Guardian by Robert Booth:

De Botton said he was inspired to launch the project when he was researching the Architecture of Happiness, his book and TV series which is a tour through the philosophy and psychology of architecture aiming to change the way we think about our homes. Visitors will be given an information pack about each building’s design, setting out what the architects hope to achieve, the historical precedents for the design and its influences.

“We have got a group of world-class architects to do projects that they wouldn’t normally do,” said De Botton. “These are probably the smallest and cheapest buildings they have done. They are realistic buildings, but they try to push boundaries and explore things.”

Alain de Botton’s project, Living Architecture, can be viewed in more detail here.