The words "vacation home" and "social enterprise" were rarely used in the same context – until Living Architecture came around. A collaboration between author Alain de Botton and some of the world's finest architects, Living Architecture rents out daring, modern holiday homes for approximately $32/person/night, in the hope of getting people "desperately excited by the possibilities opened up by great architecture" …
In an interview with Vogue Living Australia (March/April 2011), architecture-enthusiast and Living Architecture Creative Director de Botton goes on to say, "I want people to think more about what buildings do to us, to be more demanding of what property developers build. I want, in a small way, for them to become ambassadors for progressive, good design."
I love, love, love this concept, the idea that spending a holiday in a beautiful home can change us, change our ideas of what the world can be like. First of all, everyone needs a vacation. Spending a few days somewhere different, relaxing, exploring, experiencing new & wondrous things – I think it makes us better people. But many of us simply can't afford a getaway, especially a stay in a lovely and fascinating place. By democratizing vacation homes, so many more people will get to experience a true holiday.
Second, there's the idea of "what buildings do to us". I know that the times I stayed at the Ace Hotel (twice), I went out into the city each morning calm, relaxed, forgiving, and patient. The space soothed me, and the care that went into each detail made me feel like there was hope for the world. On the other hand, when my building's lock is broken (again), and the stairs are filthy (again), and the cheapest-possible cupboards break (again), I feel stressed, rattled, on edge, and I take that energy with me out into the world. I think many of us, at least those that can't afford nicer places, take those kinds of things for granted. But de Botton is saying that we shouldn't, that everyone, no matter what rent you pay, deserves humane architecture and design. By staying in places such as these, we see what is possible and are less likely to accept poorly-designed, poorly-made buildings.
If you need me, I'll be daydreaming about futuristic vacation homes in the English countryside, and a future of beautiful homes for all of us.
Images: Living Architecture