Designer Dream Houses for Rent

MVRD's It's not likely that "Superman" star Tobey Maguire is going to invite you to sleep over at his new house in L.A., which is reportedly being designed by the acclaimed Swiss architect Peter Zumthor.

So if you want to know what it's like to bunk down in minimalist Zumthor splendor you'll have to book early and get yourself to the U.K. where a Zumthor-designed house -- and four others by well-known as well as up-and-comer firms -- will soon be available to ordinary mortals as vacation rentals.

Yes, it's true: Rent a house of stunning architectural beauty that you could probably never afford to own yourself, thanks to Living Architecture, an organization of design movers and shakers in the U.K. who came up with this terrific architecture-for-all project and commissioned the houses.
The idea is that while the masses are able to amble through great architecture at airports and museums and the like, few get to experience up front and personal the chance to "live, eat and sleep in a space designed by an outstanding architectural practice," the organization's website says. Weekly rental rates will be "modest," they say, to allow the most people to use them. (Thanks!)

We're not talking ramshackle bungalows or Hampton shares in cookie cutter condos. What we see on the site are strikingly thoughtful, inspiring designs in rural settings for which we'd gladly brave a trans-Atlantic journey in cattle class. The financial backers of this project -- who prefer to to remain anonymous - believe that if you spend a few nights in a well-designed house you might want one yourself. They just want to spread their "mutual love of great architecture."

Dutch firm MVRD's "Balancing Barn" in Suffolk appears to do just that, as it cantilevers over what appears to be a grassy knoll.
(See previous photo)

"The Long House," by Hopkins Architects, takes its inspiration from the simple flint walled barns of the region.

The rugged-looked "Shingle House" in Dungeness, Kent, by the young Glasgow firm NORD is a riff on traditional fisherman's huts which is "cloaked" in tarred timber cuts shingles and set in a surreal landscape of wild weather and waves.

Norwegian firm Varmund/Vigsnaes Architects came up with the "In-Between House," set in sand dunes and capped with graceful gables that appear to float.

And Herr Zumthor? As usual he's being somewhat mysterious. His creation is suitably titled "A Secular Retreat" and is described as "a hill-top retreat to which people will be able to go for periods of sustained work and reflection." Not even a rendering, but sign us up anyway.

And while we're enjoying the solitude, let's make a list of architects we'd love to see do the same thing here in the USA.
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