Icon 145: Leisure 03.06.15

Written by 
  • House for Essex by FAT Architecture and Grayson Perry

  • King s Cross Pond Club by Ooze Architects

  • The surprising origins of Center Parcs

  • A specially commissioned photo essay inspired by Cedric Price s Fun Palace

Our new issue (out on 4 June) celebrates the arrival of summer, with FAT and Grayson Perry’s House for Essex, Ooze Architects’ King’s Cross swimming pond, the surprising modernist history of Center Parcs and Bruno Drummond’s Cedric Price-inspired photo essay

When friends tell me that they are considering a stay at Center Parcs, or social media presents me with post-facto evidence of the event, I suppress a guilty shudder. There is something unseemly about writers scrambling to claim some malaise as peculiar to their era, but perhaps we can be forgiven for suggesting that attitudes to leisure have changed in the digital age.

We’re increasingly aware of the infinite variety of available activities, of our inevitable failure to pursue even a minor fraction, and of our own insidious judgmentalism about how others spend their spare time. Yet, in the hands of talented practitioners, projects associated with leisure can still bring real joy, and sometimes even enlightenment.

Ooze Architects, with a natural bathing pool at King’s Cross; Snøhetta, with its vertical playground near Innsbruck; Herzog & de Meuron, with a stadium for FC Girondins in Bordeaux, have all pushed at the edges of typologies to maximise their potential – and, in the case of the King’s Cross pool, may even be pointing towards a possible solution to one pressing urban predicament.

More poignantly, Grayson Perry and FAT Architecture have adapted the holiday cottage model to create a memorial in Wrabness to the fictional Julie Cope – an archetypal “Essex woman” who incorporates elements of Perry’s own mother. In keeping with Perry’s earlier explorations concerning the merits of “taste”, his House for Essex is a reminder to value each life equally, and to reject snobbery, even when it has been ingrained in us from an early age.

Perhaps the time has come to place my own prejudices to one side. Having learned of the unexpected origins of Center Parcs – a strange coupling of the humane modernism of architect Jaap Bakema of Team X, and the conservative beliefs of its founder, Piet Derksen – I find that there is far more to this particular middle-class institution than meets the eye. An intriguing holiday beckons ...



John Jervis


Cover image

Bruno Drummond



quotes story

The King’s Cross pool may point towards a possible solution to one pressing urban predicament



A House for Essex FAT realises Grayson Perry’s shrine to a fictional Essex woman for Living Architecture’s latest cottage

See Grayson Perry's sketches of the House for Essex

King’s Cross Pond Club We talk to Ooze Architects about their outdoor swimming pool hidden in London’s biggest building site

Woodland retreat A family favourite for half a century, Center Parcs’ origins combine modernist ambition and social conservatism

Fun Palace Photographer Bruno Drummond explores the precarious relationship between architecture and pleasure


The Nouveau Stade Bordeaux by Herzog & de Meuron, Snøhetta’s vertical playground, Pablo Bronstein at Chatsworth, the rise of Technology Will Save Us, Brandlhuber breaks down the villa, a preview of New Designers 2015, catching up with Nendo in Milan, plus our roundup of lighting, furniture and more at this year’s Salone

Rethink Penguin Composition Rules
Icon of the Month The Camper Van
Five Most Wanted Rolf Sachs’s dream shopping list
Crimes Against Design Miniature chairs

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