In the Doghouse

Originally published in 

A new project by Muji mastermind Kenya Hara celebrates the relationship between humans and dogs, one downloadable blueprint at a time.

Modern wooden doghouse by MVRDV
Dutch architects MVRDV were assigned the beagle, a “curious and playful” breed the firm thought should have some power of its own. An optional cord attached to the portable birch plywood structure means Fido can use the entire thing as a pull toy. At rest, the pooch palace riffs on the traditional Snoopy-esque doghouse silhouette with its simple interior and gabled roof; at play, it becomes a see-saw reminiscent of MVRDV’s own Balancing Barn.

As creative director of Muji since 2001, retail impresario Kenya Hara is in the business of adding shibusa—the Japanese ideal of simple, unobtrusive beauty—to homes the world over. Now he’s shifting his focus to a different target: dogs. “I started with the idea of applying architectural ideals to something the average person could relate to,” says Hara, who is “very fond” of man’s best friend, though he doesn’t own one currently.

Architecture for Dogs is a project that goes way beyond the typical doghouse: Hara has engaged 11 top architects and designers to create interactive structures on a canine scale. Each designer—like architects Atelier Bow-Wow, Shigeru Ban, and industrial designer Konstantin Grcic— was paired with a particular dog breed (dachshund, papillon, and toy poodle, respectively). Hara explains, “Dogs spend most of their lives looking up at their owners, which isn’t good for their necks.” Instead, the prevalent idea is to put the owners at pet height while at the same time “changing the human’s existing built environment.”

Hara’s hallmark is mixing the accessible and the cerebral, and Architecture for Dogs is no exception. Free downloadable blueprints available on the project website allow anyone to replicate the structures. According to Hara, “We are very excited to see people put their own unique touches on each design and use whatever materials they have access to.” And for those who want the convenience of Internet-to-front-door delivery, Hara is planning to produce easy-to-assemble flat-pack versions as well.

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