Architecture designed especially for dogs brings happiness to pets ... and their owners.
By J. M. Towers
The exhibition Architecture for Dogs, an innovative project created by 12 world-renowned designers and architects, is on view at Tokyo’s Toto Gallery until December 21. The original idea is the brainchild of Japanese graphic designer Kenya Hara, professor at Musashino Art University in the Japanese capital and the show's curator.
Hara made a casting call to the top names in world architecture and design: he asked them to think for a moment as if they were members of a dog breed in order to understand them better, and to create interior spaces that would take into account the size and personality of each dog. "Humans have always built their environment according to their own scale. The idea of human engineering is based on setting up an environment to fit the human body,” says Hara. "However, the small dogs that always accompany us can offer new possibilities for architecture."
The architects and designers Kazuyo Sejima, Konstantin Grcic and Haruka Misawa, among others, had to study each of the dog breeds chosen for their different projects, because the needs of a bichon frisé, a chihuahua or a beagle are not the same, and neither are their movements, level excitement or reaction to objects.
Many of the artists did not submit dwellings as such. Rather, it seems they have used art as a source and means of expression. Deceuninck Elien and Mick van Gemert of Rotterdam’s MVRDV studio, in the Netherlands, presented an interactive home for a beagle, which transforms the typical “dog house” into a stylish and fun shelter. The curvature of the structure invites the animal to enter or exit and provides an enjoyable sense of movement, something essential for a dog as playful and cheerful as the beagle.
The architect Kazuyo Sejima, winner of the 2010 Pritzker Prize, presented her Architecture for the bichon frisé. Taking into account the white, soft and fluffy coat of this playful breed, Sejima used medium density fiberboard (MDF) to create an oval structure that can be adapted to the size of the pet like a belt. A small hole in the back allows the animal to enter and exit the structure, lined with knit fabric for a fluffy look. The interior is so comfortable that the bichon frisé will feel it as if it is an extension of itself.
The rest of the participants took a similar approach. An example is the work of German designer Konstantin Grcic, who created a vanity to match the glamour of the poodle. According to the designer, who is a graduate of the Royal College of Art in London: "Most owners say their poodles react positively to mirrors and show unmistakable signs of self-awareness. If this is true, it validates two attributes of poodles: they are notoriously fussy about their appearance and very smart. "
The creator and curator of the exhibition, Kenya Hara, tried to adapt the size of the human world to dogs with his project D-Tunnel. The dogs climb the stairs, and when they reach the last step, pet and owner come face to face and can look directly at each other.
Another very interesting and peculiar design, Pointed T, is a house without walls suspended from the ceiling by a thin thread, designed for the Japanese terrier by Haruka Misawa, member of Hara Design Center.
The spirit of understanding between dog and protector highlights the rest of the ideas. To complement the exhibition, those who want to experience and play at home with these designs can download the plans of the various creations from the website www.architecturefordogs.com. ■
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