Writer and “pop” philosopher Alain de Botton has selected architect Feilden Clegg Bradley to masterplan his first foray into residential development.

Following the success of his recent book The Architecture of Happiness, de Botton decided to put his ideas into practice by establishing developer Praxis Developments. It has been working with Feilden Clegg Bradley on developing a 2 ha site near London, with the aim of building the aesthetically pleasing houses that in his book he states are so rare.

De Botton told Building: “The rumour is correct, though Feilden Clegg Bradley isn’t so much the architect as the masterplanner of the scheme. It will be helping to arrange the [architecture] competition, and will also [design] some houses.”

De Botton added that he wanted to commission five architects for the scheme following the competition.

He said the scheme would comprise 50 houses, with work starting on site in spring next year. The site that de Botton and Feilden Clegg Bradley are eyeing up is thought to already have planning permission.

Feilden Clegg Bradley, which is based in London and Bath, has been talking to de Botton about the scheme for the past few weeks and is currently drawing up the masterplan and competition brief. About 10 architects are expected to be invited to pitch in September or October.

Alain is looking at the antidote to standard developer housing

Keith Bradley, Feilden Clegg Bradley

Keith Bradley, senior partner at Feilden Clegg Bradley, said: “We have been in discussions with Alain about a possible development. He is looking at the antidote to standard developer housing – the agenda is, ‘how do you create beauty?’”

In an interview in April ahead of his book’s publication, de Botton told Building who he blamed for modern, “unbeautiful” architecture: “We do have a small elite who are governing taste. They are the leaders of the great volume housebuilders. The heads of Barratt, Wimpey …”

• Derby-based architect Lathams has been appointed to design a library for Repton, the 449-year-old private school whose alumni include the late author Roald Dahl and television presenter Jeremy Clarkson.

The school’s 800-year-old grade II-listed priory will undergo a £500,000 conversion, which is due for completion by September.