Architecture for Dogs (Bow) Wows Visitors

The latest exhibit at the Long Beach Museum of Art unleashes designers on canine living spaces. Everyone agrees it’s a walk in the park.

Photo courtesy of Imprint Venture Lab "Mount Pug is a mesh-shaped 'mountain' assembly of thin and long 600mm (plywood) pieces as 'branches.' Pug is clever and mischievous. It makes full use of the mesh as its nest and plaything. Toys and snacks can also be hung on the mesh," according to architect Kengo Kuma.

The term “in the doghouse” takes on a whole new meaning after a visit to the Long Beach Museum of Art’s latest exhibit, Architecture for Dogs. For the show, architects and designers from all over the world have examined the relationships between dogs and humans and built unique, breed-specific habitats for man’s best friend.

A pied-a-terre for a pug? A preening platform for a poodle? A bedroom for a bichon? Those and more are all on display, and if you really like them and want to try this at home, you can look them up online and download plans and directions.

You might want to go with a slightly more traditional design, like the rocking Beagle House that Snoopy would have loved, designed by MVRDV. Or if you’re more daring, there’s the curious Chihuahua Cloud, described as “architecture that travels with the dog, a second skin that communicates the uniqueness of any given Chihuahua’s body and temperament,” by Architect Reiser + Umemoto.

Photo courtesy of Imprint Venture Lab According to Architects Reiser + Umemoto, "The Cloud is architecture that travels with the dog, a second skin that communicates the uniqueness of any given Chihuahua’s body and temperament.  The puffed, bespoke skin of the Cloud translates the movement, speed and personality of the Chihuahua into a pattern of undulations."

There’s a hanging cone concept, known as the “Pointed T” for the Japanese terrier, simply constructed of one large sheet of heavy paper, no hammer or nails required. That one comes from Haruka Misawa.

And for the loyal Jack Russell who likes nothing better than to curl up on a pile of your clothes, there’s the Wanmock, created by Torafu architects, which consists of a T-shirt stretched over a clever wooden frame.

The conceptual exhibition, curated by Tokyo-based designer Kenya Hara, launched at Miami Art Basel in 2012, but its worldwide museum debut began at LBMA on June 30 and runs through September 1.

“Architecture for Dogs … is an extremely sincere collection of architecture and a new medium, which make dogs and their people happy,” says Hara. “By looking at the diagrams or pictures or watching the videos, people all over the world can make these themselves.” Videos, diagrams and plans for all the designs can be downloaded at ArchitectureforDogs.com.

Hara sees this as a sociological experience as well. “Dogs are people’s partners, living right beside them, but they are also animals that humans, through crossbreeding, have created in multitudes of breeds,” he notes. “Reexamining these close partners with fresh eyes may be a chance to reexamine both human beings themselves and the natural environment.”

As a testament to how much we dote on our dogs, LBMA attendance is up about 50% over last summer. Not counted in those numbers are the four-legged visitors who are welcome if they’re small enough to be carried. For the big dogs, there are pet valets.

You and your furry friends can see the exhibit toward the end of the week, on Thursdays 11am-8pm and  Friday-Sunday 11am-5pm. Admission is $7 for adults, and $6 for students and seniors, with children under 12 and dogs getting in free. Not recommended for cats.

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