Shigeru Ban, Ikea and Nendo among those creating haute architecture for pets

Shigeru Ban, Ikea and Nendo among those creating haute architecture for pets

This year, Phaidon has published at atlas of Brutalist architecture, A Very Serious Cookbook by Contra Wildair, a two-volume wedge on the life and work of Lucian Freud, and now, an ‘indispensable’ encyclopedia about architecture for pets. Pet-tecture, a light-hearted (lightweight) little book traces graphics of cat paws and bird claw-prints through the pages, which are warmly penned by Tom Wainwright, filled with kennels, play-dens and cages of all stripes and sizes.

Many of the serious architects, artists and designers with work included in the collection (Kenya Hara, Shigeru Ban, Sou Fujimoto) have channeled a sense of fun into their small-scale structures. From Forma Italia’s glossy red and white cat bed that suspends from the ceiling, to Richard Bell’s ‘Bubbletank’ fishbowl that droops over the surface it sits on, like a water drop that’s about to hit the floor.

Archibird bird cage

‘Cage Archibird’, by Gregoire de Laforrest

Fun doesn’t have to mean frivolous, however. ‘Cage Archibird’ by Gregoire de Laforrest ‘falls halfway between practical furniture and showstopping sculpture’, writes Wainwright, commenting on the oft-mused distinction between art and design. Branches from a carved model of a tree breach a solid oak table, capped by three glass bells, so Tweetie Pie can view his surroundings from a rightfully elevated position.

In some pet projects, designers aim to make ecological statements with their animal architecture. Snohetta has created two monumental honeycomb-coloured beehives, which stand on the roof of a Norwegian building, making a statement ‘on the global decline of honeybee colonies’. Elsewhere, designers focus more on raising a smile, than raising awareness. Ben Uyeda’s ‘DIY Concrete Dog House’, for example, is a bit of brutalism for your four-legged buddy.

Though one feels Wainwright might have missed a trick by not calling it ‘Barkitecture’, this is a practical and aesthetic celebration of animal-human companionship, and its worth its weight in goldfish. §

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