Damien Hirst is perhaps best known as an extraordinarily provocative, sometimes playful artist who makes an incredible amount of money from his conceptual art — in a surprising shift, he now aims to channel some of that wealth into a new role as a pioneer in eco-housing development. Hirst, who is purported to have a horror of “anonymous, lifeless buildings,” has unveiled plans to construct over 500 eco-homes in an effort to revitalize his adopted hometown of Ifracombe in Devon, UK. The proposed homes include renewable energy solutions such as concealed wind turbines in their roofs and photovoltaic solar panels.
Hirst owns 40% of the land included in the proposal, which would develop three farms including Winsham farm, which Hirst purchased 10 years ago. Hirst’s representative for the project, architect Mike Rundell of MRJ Rundell Associates stressed that Hirst hopes for the homes to be modern in design and technology, while incorporating decorative features appropriate to the historic area, including pitched roofs and bay windows. He added that each home should be “practical, make the most of natural light, and be big enough to live in.”
Ilfracombe, a former seaside resort and mining town of 11,000 is in the midst of plans to attract new growth and investment. While Hirst aims to create a pioneering blueprint for eco-home development in the UK, Rundell cautioned against any expectations of an altruistic non-profit affordable housing project in the style of Brad Pitt. Rundell stated “if the [local city] council insists on a very high level of affordable housing… the overall quality of the homes will drop,” adding “it’s our ambition to make them affordable, but houses like these are much more expensive than ordinary houses.”
Describing Damien Hirst as a man who gets things done, Rundell expressed that Hirst is “very excited” about the project.
Lead image via Wikimedia Commons