The Diary: Peter Zumthor; Marcus Foster; Pleasance theatre; Nick McCarthy; Edinburgh Fringe

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The Independent Culture

Arthouse retreats

Peter Zumthor's new Serpentine Pavilion is all well and good for sitting down and looking at flowers for an hour but bedding down for the night is likely to be frowned upon. No matter, from next year, fans of the renowned Swiss architect can enjoy a mini-break at his new holiday home, The Secular Retreat. The glass/ concrete bungalow, Zumthor's first permanent project in the UK, has just been granted planning permission and will nestle among a clump of trees on top of a hill, somewhere between Salcombe and Hallsands in South Devon. "It's very rural. He wanted it to be quite separate," I'm told. "It's got a monastic feel. Like the Pavilion, it looks quite stark from the exterior but inside is a cool haven." The latest in the Living Architecture series, Alain de Botton's brainchild allowing holiday-makers to rent one-off statement homes at an affordable price, Zumthor's design will join MVRDV's silver-tiled Balancing Barn in Aldeburgh and NORD's black beach hut near Romney Marsh, among others. Prices start from £20 per person per night (or £750 for a long weekend) up to £3,000 for a week in peak season.

Fangs for the music

Marcus Foster was studying for his MA in Sculpture when he was spotted by Charles Saatchi. The collector snapped up his Royal College of Art degree show, exhibiting his blue steel hot air balloon in Newspeak: British Art Now. If Saatchi wants to buy his next work, though, he'll only need to fork out £8.99. In September, Foster releases his debut album, Nameless Path on Communion, the label owned by Mumford & Sons' Ben Lovett. "I've spent the last six years doing art," says Foster. "Music is something I've always wanted to do and this was the right time. I'm just trying to get some money together so I can buy a studio and continue my art." Brought up on a diet of Tom Waits, Foster has always been musical and two years ago wrote a song which a school friend poached for his new film. That friend was Robert Pattinson and the film was Twilight; with "Let Me Sign", Foster had his calling card. "I wrote it with my flatmate as a joke, just a clapping song. We didn't intend it to be anything and then Rob came in and turned it serious. It was strange but natural. We always used to sing each other's songs." Find Foster at a summer festival near you soon.

Fringe venues at the centre of culture

The Pleasance has launched a campaign to raise £4.5m to refurbish its London theatre and 21 venues at the Edinburgh Fringe, and set up an emerging talent fund, having already launched the careers of Mitchell & Webb, Stewart Lee and The League of Gentlemen among others. David Mitchell and Bafta-winner Daniel Rigby kicked off the fundraising alongside David Seidler, the Oscar-winning writer of The King's Speech. He premiered the play in the 50-seat studio and said that the film would never have happened without the Pleasance. "Anthony [Alderson, Director] said, 'Look, we've got the space, let's do a staged reading.' So we gathered together a cast, no pay but lunch and a cup of coffee. We videotaped it and it became a sales tool. Producers could look at it and say, 'It works. It actually works.'" It does, indeed.

Dream rock

From Franz Ferdinand to Ferdinand, prince of Naples. Nick McCarthy, guitarist with the Scottish rockers, will appear at Wilton's Music Hall in September, providing live music for a one-man puppet version of The Tempest. McCarthy, classically trained at the Munich Conservatory, has written the score for Philipp Plessmann's show. Fans might recognise parts from Franz Ferdinand's album Tonight, including "Dream Again", based on Caliban's "The isle is full of noises" speech.

Talent spotting

August marks 20 years since the first Best Newcomer Award was presented at the Edinburgh Fringe. "It was created on the hoof for Harry Hill," says Nica Burns, director of the Edinburgh Comedy Award. "We realised that here was someone brilliant but his show wasn't quite there." Since then the award has spotted the potential of The Mighty Boosh, Sarah Millican and Tim Minchin, winner in 2005. "I remember asking him on the day he won, 'what is your dream?'" says Burns. "He said, 'To have my own musical playing in the West End within five years.' Well, he's only a year out." Minchin's rapturously received Matilda will transfer from the RSC to London's Cambridge Theatre in October.