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Architects Paws for Pooch Projects

Friday, January 31, 2014

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If cats can command Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired cribs, then surely dogs, too, deserve designer digs.

And although communicating preferred finishes and building materials may prove difficult, a few architects around the globe may have a knack for fulfilling the four-legged clients’ greatest needs.

Projects like Bow-Wowhaus and Architecture for Dogs have fetched our attention when it comes to designs fit for man’s best friend.


In Asheville, NC, Bow-Wowhaus—a project to create one-of-a-kind dog houses—involved a dozen American Institute of Architects Asheville chapter members and other area professionals.

The creations were displayed and auctioned off to benefit a local animal rescue and an art museum in November, according to AIA Asheville.

Asheville Bow-Wowhaus
AIA Asheville

Architect Nicole Szlatenyi, Assoc. AIA, and partners Square Peg Construction and Hops and Vine specialty beverages accented Asheville's beer craze by roofing "The Hangover" in crushed beer-can shingles. Other bar by-product building materials included wine bottles, corks and a whiskey barrel.

From a home appropriate for a teacup Chihuahua to one fit for a Rhodesian Ridgeback, the houses varied in size and utility, the organizers said.

Many of the architects collaborated with businesses and craftsmen, including carpenters, interior designers, a metal worker, a faux finisher, a technology expert, and a jewelry designer.

AIA Asheville Bow-Wowhaus
AIA Asheville

Architects collaborated with businesses and craftsmen, including carpenters, interior and jewelry designers, a metal worker, a faux finisher, and a technology expert.

Building materials used in the dog houses included recycled cherry slats, stucco, MDF, Plexiglas, beer cans, and an old surfboard.

Inspiration for Project

The project was said to be inspired by Romanza, a documentary film about Frank Lloyd Wright’s California portfolio. The film, by Michael Miner, traces the architect’s work throughout the state, including the smallest design—a doghouse for Eddie Berger.

Asheville Bow-Wowhaus
AIA Asheville

The AIA Asheville Bow-Wowhaus project benefited two local non-profits, the Brother Wolf Animal Rescue and the Asheville Art Museum.

In June 1956, the 12-year-old son of a client reportedly wrote Wright: “I would appreciate it if you would design me a doghouse, which would be easy to build, but would go with our house...(My dog) is two and a half feet high and three feet long. The reasons I would like this doghouse is for the winters mainly."

Berger noted that he could pay for the design with his paper-route money. Now 68, Berger rebuilt the dog house with his brother using the original plans, according to AIA Asheville.

Architecture for Dogs

Another pooch-related project that inspired inventive design was Architecture for Dogs, a project that matched star designers such as Toyo Ito and Reiser +Umemoto to particular dog breeds. Kenya Hara, a Japanese graphic designer and curator, came up with the pet project.

Shibi Inu
Roberto Vasarri / Wikimedia Commons

Architect Toyo Ito designed a mobile home fit for a Shiba Inu as part of the Architecture for Dogs project.

The designers worked to create a collection of 13 stylish dog houses that were displayed at Design Miami in December 2012.

The designs included a cloud house for a Chihauhua and a fuzzy escape for a Bichon Frise.

Ito, the 2013 Pritzker Architecture Prize winner, designed a mobile home for his Shiba Inu as part of the project.

The blueprints for each of the designer dog houses are available for free on the project website, allowing anyone to replicate the structures for a four-legged friend.


Tagged categories: Aesthetics; American Institute of Architects (AIA); Architects; Building materials; Color; Color + Design; Design; Designers; Frank Lloyd Wright; Project Photos

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