Daily Features

Designing Dolls’ Houses

Some of the world's most creative architects are thinking small for charity.

By Stela Razzaque, Superscript November 8, 2013

Some of the world’s best-known architects and designers have stepped away from their large-scale development projects to think on a much smaller scale: the dollhouse. Twenty architects including household names like Zaha Hadid, have reimagined the dollhouse for the 21st century and the result is an impressive collection of miniature avant-garde architectural marvels.

An auction, culminating an exhibition called A Dolls’ House that launched at the London Design Festival 2013, has been scheduled for November 11 when the houses will be sold to benefit the UK-based charity, KIDS, supporting children with disabilities. The philanthropic program initiated by the Cathedral Group was inspired by British Architect Edwin Lutyens, who designed a dollhouse for a colonial exhibition in 1922.

Electra House by Adjaye Associates in collaboration with artist Chris Ofili and Base Models.

 House for a Deaf Child by DRMM in collaboration with Richard Woods Studio and Grymsdyke Farm.

 House by Morag Myerscough and Luke Morgan in collaboration with artists Ishbel Myerscough, Chantal Joffe and poet Lemn Sissay.

 House by Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands.

 Extra-Ordinary House by Glenn Howells.

 Tower of Fable House by FAT Architecture in collaboration with artist Grayson Perry.

 The Grimm's House by James Ramsey RAAD Studio in collaboration with artist Lara Apponyi.

 Mae-Mak House by MAE in collaboration with MAKLab and Burro Happold.

 Elvis' Tree House by AMODELS.

 Inside Out House by Coffey Architects.

 House by Zaha Hadid Architects.

 Jigsaw House by MAKE Architects.

 Play House by DRDH Architects in collaboration with Norwegian artist Anne Katrine Dolven.

 Multi-Story House by Duggan Morris Architects in collaboration with Unit 22 Modelmakers.

 Jack in the Box House by Guy Hollaway in collaboration with Hemingway Design.

The Books

Design Dossier: Architecture/For Kids Pamela Pease
Kids Design Collaborative
Marvin Malecha
Design Meets Disability Graham Pullin

The challenge presented to each participating designer was that his or her dollhouse include at least one feature that makes life easier for a child with a disability. One of the inspiring creations, the Jigsaw House, was conceived by award-winning international architecture firm MAKE. The concept was to create a large house from a number of smaller houses, resulting in 26 fully-designed houses packed with character and a unique aesthetic. Designers & Books spoke with lead architect at MAKE, John Prevc, about his involvement in the project.

Stela Razzaque: What was your first thought when asked to participate in this exhibition and auction?
John Prevc: We were delighted to participate and thought that the charity which is due to benefit a worthy one to try and help.

The Jigsaw House is one of many designer doll houses up for auction. © MAKE Architects

SR: What was your inspiration in creating a dolls’ house of the 21st Century?
JP: We are an employee-owned business and we thought that it would be great to involve as many of our architects as we could in the design of the Doll’s House. The concept was therefore that of a Jigsaw where a module would be designed in which individuals could then design their interpretation of the brief. The idea of a simple form which culturally represented a house was thought to make sense. We designed a shell with a pitched roof which acted as a key onto which other pieces would fit. The interlocking modules formed the three dimensional jigsaw. The repetition and componentization also became an illustration of 21st-century building industry but with the potential for individuality and uniqueness.

The Jigsaw House by MAKE is a series of stackable structures. © MAKE Architects

SR: What materials were used in construction and how was it assembled?
JP: We used laminated timber predominantly and the work was shared amongst 20-plus people.

SR: What features have you built in to make a disabled child’s life easier?
JP: The design is a series of individual houses all of which deal with an aspect of disability. Each of the houses has either tactility, audibility, all have visual delight and the herb garden has smell. The only thing we didn't attempt was taste although I suppose you could taste the herbs. We have designed a set of statements about disability rather than a standard house with accessible rooms and spaces.

comments powered by Disqus