Vibrant Timber Windows in ‘A House For Essex’

Traditional timber sliding sash windows, casements and French doorsets from the Conservation™ range by Mumford & Wood 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.  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.  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.  The sliding sash windows are positioned in the gold roof, in pairs of diminishing size, running from front to back of the house.

Conservation™ windows and doors are made from engineered timber, that provides exceptional strength and stability, to the exacting requirements of the British Woodworking Federation’s Wood Window Alliance standards and are A+ BRE rated.  Double glazed and fully factory-finished they offer the highest levels of thermal and acoustic performance and many products are Secured by Design accredited.  Products carry the BSI Kitemark and are Energy Saving Trust listed.  Mumford & Wood’s Conservation™ products are delivered to site with three-coats of high quality micro-porous paint or stain as standard.

“These windows and doors are truly glorious but confess we were surprised when the contractor, Rose Builders, showed us the drawings,” says Frank Buckley, managing director, Mumford & Wood Limited.  “Not that design of a bespoke nature is anything new to us, this is where our technical design and manufacturing methods excel; it was more the unexpected colours of purple red and yellow which was colour matched to Little Green Trumpet.  This project makes a grand and striking statement and makes an unusual alternative to today’s trend of white, off-white and heritage colours such as pale grey and duck egg blue and natural stain finishes.  This property is rather like a fairy story, a true work of fiction.”

A House for Essex will be available to rent on a short-term holiday basis and can sleep up to four people in two bedrooms.  Slots are allocated by public ballot which opened in May ’15.

Rose Builders Limited is a traditional family run firm of builders and contractors established around 1896.  Based in Manningtree, Essex, Rose Builders is one of the leading construction companies in East Anglia with a reputation for quality building.  Mumford & Wood is a regular supplier to the company.

For technical support and advice please contact Mumford & Wood on 01621 818155 to arrange an appointment to meet at the company’s permanent display at The Building Centre, London or the new showroom in Tiptree, Essex where a factory tour is also available.  Here significant recent investment coupled with time-served craftsmanship ensures that products deliver maximum performance and superb aesthetics with service-excellence support.

Images © Jack Hobhouse