It’s hard to believe that the time is here to announce the 5th Annual Life of an Architect Playhouse Design Competition! There has been a lot going on behind the scenes since last years competition ended. First and foremost, I have some new partners …
This year – and possibly in an ongoing manner – my playhouse competition will be facilitated by Houzz and with the support and encouragement of the national arm of the American Institute of Architects. So what does this mean to you? Well, quite a bit actually, but most of the changes happen behind the scenes and will impact the people who participate in a very minor way. The best news that comes out of this collaboration is that A) there will be more winners (which means more playhouses will get constructed) and B) more communities will benefit from your participation in this event. I am still supporting the charity (Dallas CASA) which was the reason I started this competition to begin with, but all around the country, playhouse will get built and then donated to worthy causes … Amazing!
I should reiterate that there will still be judging process (that takes place at my house) for the entries for the playhouses that I will get built for Dallas CASA. This is probably the main area of change that I haven’t quite figured out. In the past, all the entries were submitted directly to me and I would print out a copy of the entries for each judge that would be used for sorting, marking up, and recording thoughts upon during the judging process. Now that all the entires are being submitted to Houzz, I suppose I have the ability to secure participation from judges located around the country. The challenge with going that route is that these playhouses are more complicated than people initially realize and the back and forth discussions that take place during the judging rounds has proved crucial when selecting winners in the past. I’m not sure how I can eliminate or reduce that part of the judging process.
Something else that will remain in place is that there will still be trophies distributed to the folks who make it as finalists in my competition. If you aren’t familiar – or you simply missed it the first time around – is that I personally handmade all the awards that were mailed around the world to the people who were finalists in last years playhouse design competition. I think it is important to recognize the efforts and contributions people have made towards my event and this was my way of saying “Thank You”.
So let me explain how the competition has changed:
I have teamed up with Houzz and the American Institute of Architects to launch PlayHouzz 2016, a charitable playhouse design contest and showcase open to the Houzz community. With this year’s theme of “Adventure,” we’re looking for innovative playhouse design entries that inspire a sense of imaginative play. Houzz is excited to champion the creativity of our talented community, and we invite you to submit a design.
To participate, upload an innovative playhouse design that creates a sense of adventure and inspires imaginative play. Sketches, renderings and photos are all acceptable. You can start promoting your entry right away. The design that receives the most “likes” on Houzz will be selected as the PlayHouzz 2016 global winner. Houzz and the AIA are delighted to be funding the construction of this design and other community favorites, which will benefit children around the country.
By entering the contest and showcase, you will have a chance for your design to be seen by more than 35 million homeowners and home professionals on Houzz, as well as do good for local communities. Here’s how to enter:
- Upload images of your playhouse design.
- Write a brief description of how your design fits this year’s theme of “Adventure” and inspires imaginative play.
- Share your entry on social media with your friends, family and colleagues, and ask them to “like” your entry on Houzz. That’s it. Read on for more information on how to enter.
**Deadline: 5 p.m. PT, April 8, 2016**
See the Official Rules.
Here are some answers to questions you might have –
Question: What Should I Consider When Designing My Playhouse?
Answer: Winning playhouses will be exhibited at conventions, fundraisers and other public spaces before they are donated — so they have to be portable (maximum 8’-0” Height X 7’-6” Width X 8’-6” length). When designing your playhouse, please consider the construction guidelines in the Official Rules.
The playhouse designs that receive the most “likes” on Houzz will be reviewed by the PlayHouzz Advisory Board to ensure that they meet construction guidelines and can be built within the designated $5,000 budget.
Question: How Do I Enter?
Answer: Upload images of your playhouse design. Simply follow the instructions on the entry page. Only one entry is allowed per participant or company.
Photos, renderings, sketches, elevations, perspectives or any other assets will be accepted. There is no limit to the number of images you can upload. Your playhouse could be selected to be built and featured at AIA Convention 2016 or by other PlayHouzz partners.
Question: Do I Need a Houzz Account to Enter?
Answer: Yes. If you don’t yet have a free professional or homeowner profile on Houzz, you’ll be prompted to create one.
Tip: It’s easiest (but not required) to use your Facebook account during the sign-up process.
If you are an AIA member, add the AIA affiliation badge to your Houzz professional profile. Your AIA affiliation will show up on your entry.
Question: Where Can I Provide More Information About My Design?
Answer: After uploading images, click the green “done” button. Your entry is a personal ideabook, where you can share a brief description of your project.
Help the Houzz community understand what you have created. Explain how your design fits the “Adventure” theme and inspires imaginative play.
Question: How Do I Win?
Answer: The entry with the most “likes” from the Houzz community will win the PlayHouzz 2016 Award. There will be two additional runners-up awards and 10 AIA local winners.
To win, your entry will need to be seen by many people. Share the link to your entry on social networks and email your friends, family, colleagues and clients. It’s easy for anyone to create a free Houzz account and “like” your project.
Question: Why Should I Enter?
- Your design could benefit communities and children around the country. (More on this below.)
- Your playhouse will be part of the PlayHouzz showcase and will be promoted to more than 35 million people.
- If you are one of the winners, you’ll receive the following perks and prizes:
PlayHouzz 2016 Winner (1):
- Houzz editorial coverage featuring the playhouse designer and entry
- Playhouse built and featured at AIA Convention 2016 in Philadelphia
- Prize trip to AIA Convention 2016 (including airfare and hotel) for U.S.- or Canada-based winner
PlayHouzz Runners-Up (2):
- Houzz editorial coverage featuring the playhouse designer and entry
- Houzz will work with PlayHouzz partners to build one of the winning designs for a charity or nonprofit that benefits children.
AIA Local Winners (10):
Up to 10 participating AIA components will be eligible to receive funds from Houzz and the AIA to build playhouse designs from their members that receive the most “likes” in the competition. AIA components will donate these playhouses or use them to raise funds for a charity or nonprofit that benefits children. Houzz will also feature these playhouses in an editorial article.
All winning entries are subject to review by the PlayHouzz Advisory Board. (See contest rules for details.)
I will most likely be providing a follow-up post in the coming weeks that helps clarify whatever new items and questions that routinely come up. One thing I should make abundantly clear, is that the playhouses that win my competition are in addition to the playhouses that could win the Playhouzz 2016 competition – we are simply drawing our winners from the same pool of entries. I am also sitting on the Playhouse Advisory Board and will be a part of the group that advances the entries from their initial submission into the submission that meet the same requirements I’ve had since I started this competition 5 years ago, but I’ll write it again just so we are all clear.
The criteria used for judging will be:
- buildability, and
- the ability of the playhouse to be built for approximately $5,000 in material costs
When it comes to how much these playhouse cost to build, there are a lot of people who don’t actually know how much stuff costs and that’s okay. The point is that you need to be mindful of the cost as you are designing your playhouse. This means that designs that require CNC routers, GFRG castings, or cast in place stainless steel, it will most likely not advance to the final round.
Entries can be submitted by individuals or by a team, it doesn’t matter and it will not be a consideration during the judging.
It is important to make notice of the timeline because things are moving a bit faster this year. All the entries need to be submitted by **Deadline: 5 p.m. PT, April 8, 2016** There are still some moving parts that need to be worked out – I don’t have the answers to share just yet (which is why I will publish a follow-up post to this article). You still don’t have to submit construction drawings with your initial submissions – the entries due by April 8th are really the design boards.
If you want, here is a link to every post I’ve written on Playhouses some of these posts include the actual construction drawings used to build the playhouse. You will also find past entries to see how presentation boards were assembled, loads and loads of valuable data. Everything that you want to know can be found in these previous posts so use this resource wisely, Grasshopper.
Important Considerations for your Design (aka “How to win”)
You’ll need to know some basic parameters in order to actually design one of these playhouses. Click here for the playhouse guidelines – this is the document that tells you the size constraints. Very Important!!
Protection – since these playhouses are on display in a mall, they must have all openings either closed or protected so that enthusiastic children don’t actually play on the playhouses during this time. A common solution is to put Plexiglas over the openings but the amount of openings you may have can make this solution difficult to execute. Things like slides and rock walls are frowned upon because they are difficult to protect without resorting to making a giant Plexiglas cover. Think of these playhouses more like little buildings than structures you would find on a playground.
Final Plea – This should be a fun thing for you to do and the end result could be that your playhouse gets designed and raffled off to benefit some needy kids. Doing this sort of work is what fills your karma tank up … and the effort required is minimal unless your design wins and even then – not so much work. I really hope that I can get a good showing so that I can go to more people in the industry for funds next year and build more of these playhouses. Every part of this process will be well documented and represented here on the site, I hope you come along for the trip.
Just something to keep in mind – this year it looks as though we could get as many as 16 playhouses built around the country so your odds of winning have never been better. That, along with the fact that you are helping out worthwhile charities, should be all the motivation you need to get busy designing.
That and you could get an extremely coveted Life of an Architect Playhouse Trophy.
There were a handful of questions that have come up since I originally wrote this post. As a result, I wrote a second post to try and address them, clarify a few points – AND – point out that the software company behind the SketchUp is now involved with some amazing prizes. I highly recommend that you read this this newer post.