Children’s Playhouse 2011 – Complete!

Bob Borson —  August 4, 2011 — 47 Comments

The 15th Annual ORIX Parade of Playhouses event is about to actually start and the Bug Playhouse I designed was completed on time and delivered to the event without complication or drama. I know that I talk about this event at length but it only comes round once a year so thanks for indulging me. I’ve already published the post on the design, the construction documents, and the specimen jars that will go inside. If you have been around for all those posts, I think it’s interesting to see how close the envisioned product i s to the actual completed product. Sound the trumpets – here it is:

 

Bug House - Dallas CASA Parade of Playhouses

I’m pretty happy with it and I am glad that decided to flare the sides – the form is substantially more appealing with this shape than if the sides had been straight. Is it more “bug-like”? I’m going to say yes.

.

Playhouse Framing - Dallas CASA Parade of Playhouses

These things tend to get built quickly and come together fast. I am going to include a lot of photos here so next year I can refer people to this post when they have questions about how these get built.

.

 

Playhouse Interior Framing - Dallas CASA Parade of Playhouses

A look at the interior framing – to get the flare on the sides, we just used a 2×6 stud and cut it to shape.

.

Playhouse framing - Dallas CASA Parade of Playhouses

All the framing and roof deck are on at this point – the form is coming together and at this point I can tell if I got the scale correct. Despite the fact that these playhouses are not very big, I don’t want them to look small, so I spend a lot of time considering the spacing and scale of the pieces that are used to build the playhouse.

.

Playhouse Interior - Dallas CASA Parade of Playhouses

A look at the interior – the walls are lined with homasote (one of my favorite materials). It’s a 3/4″ thick recycled paper panel product and is really inexpensive. I like the way it looks and by using it as my wall sheathing, the entire interior has now become a makeshift tack board. You might notice that there is a counter top hanging off the rear wall – make a note of it because something happens to it later.

.

Playhouse rafter detail - Dallas CASA Parade of Playhouses

This is a look at the rafters that hold up the roof. I used 1×4′s because I like the scale and by ganging them together, I get the support I need while adding some visual interest to the ceiling. I also tapered the ends to the rafters to visually lighten the way they look from the outside.

.

Playhouse ceiling detail - Dallas CASA Parade of Playhouses

Looking up at the rafters …

.

Playhouse cedar roof - Dallas CASA Parade of Playhouses

The cedar shingles finally made it onto the playhouse. This view also gives you a nice look at the profile of the playhouse. The roof also has an angle to the eaves that matches the angle of the walls. I did this for no other reason than to try and accentuate the non-rectangular form. Many of these playhouses are boxes and I was trying to avoid that.

.

Not another change!

We are on day 32 of triple digit heat here in Texas so working outside all day is tough. I think that guy was just taking a 5 second break but it looks like he’s about to lose it into that bucket. Or was this right after I showed up with some last minute revisions?…

.

Playhouse primer paint - Dallas CASA Parade of Playhouses

Painters showed up, patched holes, caulked joints – all that good stuff and put down a primer coat. I thought this neutral color was interesting, but I had something with a little more pop in mind.

.

Playhouse primer paint - Dallas CASA Parade of Playhouses

This is the final color scheme – mostly neutral with the gun metal gray body and natural cedar shakes but a little beetle green for the framing.

.

playhouse modification drawings

This picture is a little out of sequence but there’s a reason. just a few days before this playhouse was supposed to be delivered, I ran by the site with my daughter Kate. She was examining the interior and this is what happened:

Kate: “I love it but you know what you should have done? I have a great idea..”

Dad: “I like great ideas, lay it on me.”

Kate: “You should cut holes in this top with a box underneath, then put see thru lids in here so you could put the bugs that you’ve caught in there with some sticks and leaves and dirt….”

Dad: (thinking this thing needs to get finished but…) “You know, that actually is a great idea, I need to make that happen”

So I called one of the best contractors in Dallas – Barry Buford from Buford Homes (and the guy building my playhouse) and ran the idea past him. His response?

Barry: “That is a good idea, we need to make that happen.”

.

playhouse modification to desk

Viola! Swung by the job site on my way home and everything was done.

.

playhouse completed modifications to desk

When I told my daughter that her table top idea actually got built, you can only imagine how happy she was. Maybe this year she might actually want to win the playhouse I designed. (fingers crossed)

.

playhouse wall storage for specimen jars

A look at the display shelves embedded into the wall – perfect for storing specimen jars!

.

Playhouse interior looking at front door

A look back at the front door, you can see that the homasote overs all the interior walls.

.

playhouse screen attachment detail

This is a close-up look at how the hardware cloth (screen) was installed. Extremely direct and straight-forward – although I have to admit that this method of installing the screen was the idea of the contractor. My idea required the creation of individual screen frames for each opening – completely unnecessary.

.

Bug House being delivered

Moving the playhouse from where it was built to the parking lot outside NorthPark Mall is handled differently by every contractor who builds one. Since I keep mine light, and the contractor builds it only a few miles away, he can take residential streets the entire way so he just sticks it on the back of a flat bed trailer and the drive like 15mph the whole way.

.

Playhouse being unloaded

NorthPark Mall is owned by the Nasher Family (maybe you’ve heard of the Nasher Sculpture Center designed by Renzo Piano, home to one of the greatest collections of modern and contemporary sculpture in the world?) These are the same guys that move priceless works of art around so despite the every-man looking nature of this process, these guys know what they’re doing (so I was only slightly nervous seeing forklift driver tilt my playhouse on edge…)

.

Playhouse being unloaded

.

Playhouse being unloaded

There aren’t to many images yet that convey the scale of this little playhouse so I included these few at the end for scale reference.

.

I know that at the time of writing this post, my Bug House has been moved into the mall. That means I will shortly arrive on site and finish loading up the stuff that goes inside – the specimen jars, a telescope, and the coolest of all … a whole load of HexBugs – mini robotic creatures courtesy of a client of ours (the owner of the company and the guy who designed them in the first place). What kid isn’t going to see that and try and get their parents to buy some raffle tickets? After all, this is a charity event and a damn good cause. If you want to see some of the other designs and maybe buy some raffle tickets for yourself, visit the Dallas CASA website.

.

.

.

  • Charlie Burris

    Really nice design and good photos show how it works.  I liked the flared walls from the start.  Your daughter’s input and that dialogue was cool as well!  Great job!

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      Thanks Charlie - 

      If I get this Life of an Architect Parade of Playhouses competition off the ground in 2012 I will expect a submission from you!

      Bob

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_SDCVVN22SERBCGSASAKEUQYKIE Noll Kretschmann

    Will the construction cost be disclosed??

    Very nice, btw!

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      material costs and labor costs were under $4,000 – but that isn’t a real indication of the actual cost. The time from many of the lead “individuals” was donated – i.e. – my time, the contractor, the owner of the psinting company, etc. Most choose to pay their employees for their time spent on the project but donated overhead and profit to the cause.

      Thanks

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      hard to really say – since it was for charity, we got price breaks on all sorts of things – materials, labor, construction management, etc. I’m told that at cost it would have landed in the $3,000 range. Of course, the guys who built this paid attention to every little thing as if it were there own and it turned out far superior than what could probably be appreciated by the winner.

      Cheers

  • ModFruGal

    Just found your blog (where have I been!?) and I’m really enjoying it.  This project made me smile…I love it!  Will you show us some pics with the specimen jars and hexbugs all in place and kitted out?

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      I’ll see what I can dig up – the light inside the mall is not very conducive to taking photos (and the mall cop doesn’t like it either!) There will most likely be a concluding post that shows all the playhouses so if I get the shot, I’ll include it there.

      Look back sometime next week.

      Cheers

  • Kelly

    This is great! I love its subtle quirks. Have you seen the Dwell ‘Playhaus’ competition? I think you should enter to try and win a sweet $10K.
    http://new.dwell.com/contests/playhaus-design-competition
    Also, I’m pretty sure your daughter is a genius.

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      Thanks Kelly,

      I did know about the contest but didn’t think I would enter. I have a hard enough time figuring out a way to do what I’ve got on my plate … but I appreciate the vote of confidence.

      Cheers

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      Thanks Kelly,

      I did know about the contest but didn’t think I would enter. I have a hard enough time figuring out a way to do what I’ve got on my plate … but I appreciate the vote of confidence.

      Cheers

  • Anonymous

    Fantastic, I love it! The viewing boxes were a great addition, you have a very talented daughter :)

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      I’m quite sure she takes after her mother – but I do think she is developing my sense of humor… that could be trouble!

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      I’m quite sure she takes after her mother – but I do think she is developing my sense of humor… that could be trouble!

  • http://twitter.com/LifeasInterns Patrick Ladendecker

    Bob –

    The bug house looks fantastic!  Reminds me of the playhouse my dad built me when I was a kid albeit a bit more traditional in form but quite similar in scale.  Love the flared walls, definitely gives it a playful aspect.

  • Pingback: News – HEXBUG.com » Blog Archive » HEXBUG featured on Life of an Architect Blog

  • http://www.chasingflw.com Conrad Brown

    Great job, but I wish you had used sawn wood shingles, perhaps laid in a staggered, random pattern, they would be more in scale…still, a really good exercise.

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      Conrad - 

      Thanks for the comment – but I actually really like the shingles. The scale, size, pattern – all of it. I might me jaded a bit since I used cedar shingles last year and I wanted to make things look different. Even at that, if I had the chance to go back and change things, I don’t think I would.

  • http://twitter.com/collier1960 Collier Ward

    Very, very nice. Are you selling plans for this gem?

  • http://twitter.com/Alexandrafunfit Alexandra Williams

    1. I think that guy is barfing into the bucket because he had just heard one of your jokes.
    2. That is a way cool playhouse.
    3. I live in a bug house. It’s called, “Boys, shut the front door, willya!”
    4. I hope they make lots of money off your house.
    5. Kate is a genius. Must have got it from her mom.

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      1. maybe
      2. thanks
      3. I thought it was called “Jesus! I’m not air conditioning the neighborhood”
      4. Me too
      5. absolutely – looks too

  • Emily Schauermann

    super cool!  this makes me want a playhouse!
    my brother recently asked me to design a tree house for my nephew’s 5th birthday.  i think i will need to take some cues from you!
    thank you for the inspiration!

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      You should totally do that – I bet you would have a great time! Make sure to get your nephew involved, everything will work out better if you do. 

      Take a picture of it and send it my way if and when you get it done.Thanks for commenting

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      You should totally do that – I bet you would have a great time! Make sure to get your nephew involved, everything will work out better if you do. 

      Take a picture of it and send it my way if and when you get it done.Thanks for commenting

  • Cyra @Duquella Tile

    LOVE it! You outdo yourself each year and this is the best. Your details make it so special. Love the rafters. The non-boxyness of it. I want a big people version for my woods. (I think I say that every year!) Using your daughter’s idea really made it super special.

    What happens if homosote gets damp/wet. I know that isn’t much of a problem in Texas. I love the look but wonder how it would fair in my rainforest where there is heavy dew every morning even in the summer.

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      Thanks Cyra! 

      I probably wouldn’t use it outside in a high humidity environment – although, it is so inexpensive and easy to work with that replacing it every other year would pretty simple. A 4′x8′ board costs $22 and we used less than 2 boards.My rule for designing these things (when there isn’t a specific client) is that it needs to be something that I would want – at at least Kate would want it. By that requirement, I was successful.  

  • architectrunnerguy

    Great work Bob!

    Nice little detail on the underside of the roof in not having the roofing nails penetrate through the plywood. Probably wouldn’t work for a real house (longer life, more storms, etc.) but perfectly ok here. I guess one cost cutting move was not painting the underside of the roof and it’s supports as called for in your drawings but it still look great!

    Doug

  • architectrunnerguy

    Great work Bob!

    Nice little detail on the underside of the roof in not having the roofing nails penetrate through the plywood. Probably wouldn’t work for a real house (longer life, more storms, etc.) but perfectly ok here. I guess one cost cutting move was not painting the underside of the roof and it’s supports as called for in your drawings but it still look great!

    Doug

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      Thanks Doug,

      I actually told them not to paint the deck and the rafters although there is a slight charcoal stain on the rafters that you can see in person far better than in these pictures. I have been wondering if I should have painted the underside of the deck the beetle green but that ship has sailed. 

      Cheers

      • architectrunnerguy

        Follow up……. Just enjoying my second cup of coffee this morning while looking at your Bug House again and what’s that I see???? HAND DRAWINGS on bumwad sketches showing the bug box construction????? Looks like you did those right there, quick and easy. Drawn as it came out of your head.

        Reminds me of your “Your sketches speak for themselves” blog entry.

        Doug

        • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

          you are exactly right – straight out my head onto paper. I could have just told them what I wanted but this was a good leave behind for the guys who would actually be doing the work. 

          thanks for reading twice! that’s once more than me…

  • architectrunnerguy

    Great work Bob!

    Nice little detail on the underside of the roof in not having the roofing nails penetrate through the plywood. Probably wouldn’t work for a real house (longer life, more storms, etc.) but perfectly ok here. I guess one cost cutting move was not painting the underside of the roof and it’s supports as called for in your drawings but it still look great!

    Doug

  • Anonymous

    To bad I dont live in Dallas, although it does save me the trouble of having decide between The Bug House and The Planter House, that gray water system is pretty neat. 

    Actually that might have been something The Bug House could have used, a way to catch bugs! Something simple like a sheet erected vertically with a light behind it to attract bugs. Hmmm maybe something to consider next time.

  • Anonymous

    To bad I dont live in Dallas, although it does save me the trouble of having decide between The Bug House and The Planter House, that gray water system is pretty neat. 

    Actually that might have been something The Bug House could have used, a way to catch bugs! Something simple like a sheet erected vertically with a light behind it to attract bugs. Hmmm maybe something to consider next time.

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      There are a lot more playhouses that you would have to choose from – I am associated in some way with 8 of the 20 that are built and I know that those 8 are all pretty good.

  • Ginny Powell

    Fantastic Bob!  Really appreciate the detailed photos especially how you achieved the sides. Being a hardware person just have to ask if the hinges were painted over intentially?  Love that you take Kate’s input seriously!! 

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      I noticed that as well … I’m sure they weren’t painted over accidentally but I didn’t tell them to do it. As a general rule we don’t ever paint hardware but since everybody is donating their time, I don’t crack the whip unless I have to – and with this contractor, I don’t have to.

  • Pancholi Twinkle

    I love how one of the photo has only “budget… better move” visible!! lol!! great post btw!!

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      Thanks for commenting – cheers!

  • Repparch

    Love it!  Wonderful execution from concept to completion.  You and Kate make a great team!

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      I told Kate your comment and she got the biggest smile on her face. She told me that she was the brains and I know contractors….

      Nice to start the day off with a laugh

  • http://twitter.com/Splintergirl Amy Good

    It’s great!  Funny that the second picture on the post (if one knew nothing about the structure) appears small enough to be an elaborate birdhouse, maybe.  Have fun!

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      Ha! I like that – you could actually use this as a bird house. I’ve seen parrots kept in structures this size.

      Thanks for commenting Amy, I appreciate it.

  • http://twitter.com/TALV58 Todd Vendituoli

    Great Job Bob! Love to see works as they progress from start to completion. The thoughts, efforts, planning and execution are the same whether it be a playhouse or a home!

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      You are exactly right – the process for designing and detailing this playhouse were at the same level as any project I would take on.

      I have a great job but it’s because I choose to make it great. Doing charity projects like this are great for everyone involved.

  • http://twitter.com/ExtremelyAvg Brian D. Meeks

    My favorite time of year is playhouse time.  I got such a chuckle last year when Kate used a ticket on your beautiful Japanese playhouse, so your feelings wouldn’t get hurt.  It was my favorite, not that I got a vote.

    I think but house is great too, but I also liked the from the other post, created by the new guy.

    I look forward to the post from the drawing.  That was a good one last year.

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      Thanks Brian,

      I will outfit the interior Friday morning, there is a big event on Sunday where everyone gets recognized and I will do a write up of most (if not all) of the playhouses that we built. 

      Cheers