The only time you'll see a cat story on Phaidon.com
Probably. Nanotecture is packed with very small houses - here are some that only the smallest can fit into
We're very proud of our forthcoming book Nanotecture, the most wide-ranging, comprehensive and inclusive book on small-scale architecture ever published which, as its subtitle Tiny Built Things suggests, is an inspiring, surprising and fun collection of 300 works of small-scale architecture.
But you know us. We're confident enough in our books not to get too precious about them (even when they contain demountable, portable, transportable and inflatable structures as well as pavilions, installations, sheds, cabins, pods, capsules and tree houses). So we thought we'd kick off our stories around this particular book, not with some steel or glass, or hyper-geometric archictectural eye candy - though Nanotecture sports many great examples of that. No, we thought we'd rely on that classic internet traffic builder - cute furry animals. So below you'll find a selection of structures built by men and women purely for the enjoyment of their loyal and much loved furry ones. But don't worry. There'll be some steel and glass from the book (and maybe even a mirrored surface or two) along soon. . .
Entitled Mount Pug, this constellation of timber struts incised with carefully matching notches forms Kengo Kuma’s design of a wooden shelter for a pug – part of the Hara Design Institute and Nippon Design Centre’s initiative of Architecture for Dogs. Assembled without nails or glue, the 74 branches of 600 mm plywood interlock to form hexagonal and triangular shapes that are self-supporting and rise to a gentle mound standing 800mm high. This shallow dome creates a semi-sheltered environment for pugs to play or sleep under and the precise notching system also allows canine toys or snacks to be suspended from the timber mesh.
The Catissa, by Russian designer, Ilshat Garipov of Mojorno, offers an alternative view on housing for cats. Instead of cluttering floor space, Catissa is a wall-hung system for cats to sleep and hide in, high above the cacophony of most domestic spaces. Enclosed by five panels of timber, each of the 500 x 500mm cubes can be stacked above each other and have cut-out windows and feline-sized gaps, providing multiple places for cats to spy from and slink through. Detachable sheepskin cushions and a diminutive cat-ladder complete the design, which is available in monochrome or colourful painted hues.
Inspired by Kenya Hara’s project ‘Architecture for Dogs’ this kennel by Productora was one of 10 homes for dogs designed by Mexican offices, each of which reinterpreted the basic animal shelter. Productora’s four-sided pyramidal home combines the practice’s interest in pure geometric forms with the necessary requirements to protect a dog from the sun and rainfall, and provide a warm bed. Made from MDF board and painted with water-resistant gold coloured polyester, the platonic-inspired doghouse not only provides a canine sanctuary but is also intended to be a sculptural form in a garden.
Made from white-coated recycled card and punched with decorative graphics and cat-sized holes, each of the playhouse elements can be simply slotted together with card tabs, which also secure the stacked blocks. The set of blocks can be flat-packed and is light enough to be carried in a large portfolio case yet strong enough to bear the weight of several cats.
Part of a benefit hosted by Architects for Animals to raise funds for LA-based cat charity, FixNation, DSH Architecture’s Cat’s Cradle was one of several designs contributed by notable local architects for bespoke feline housing. The shelter is made from five intersecting aluminium hoops that are arranged in a dynamic form – three of them provide a gravity structure while the other two are wrapped with rayon cord that creates a webbing platform and sunshade. Appropriate to the Californian climate, the project is imagined as a place for cats to perch on and observe from, its taut strings providing a playful feline diversion as well as dappled shade.
(Main image, top of page) ConCATenate is the multi-storey response by Lehrer Architects to design a cathouse for Architecture for Animals. Made for a one-off charity fundraising event for FixNation, the ConCATenate design draws on the etymology of its name: a linear processional series of elements that cats can use to ascend the 1.3 m tall structure. Made of 16 gauge sheet metal, cats can climb the right-angled shelving to reach any one of three platforms, each lined with brilliantly blue-coloured artificial grass. The cacophony of angled white planes and struts creates a kind of feline jungle gym that frames the open-air shelter and provides shade from the Californian sun.
Check out Nanotecture Tiny Built Things here along with Jutaku, which features more than 400 houses - one per page, one image per house - encompassing the sheer volume, variety and novelty of contemporary Japanese residential architecture.