Life of an Architect Playhouse Competition – Update

Bob Borson —  August 1, 2012 — 5 Comments

The inaugural 2012 Life of an Architect ‘Playhouse Design Competition’ is just about over … and things have been amazing, far more exciting and rewarding than I had originally hoped. Fantastic participation and dynamic designs all led to to really clever and exciting playhouses being built for the 17th annual Dallas CASA Parade of Playhouses event.

Life of an Architect Playhouse Competition

The Dallas CASA Parade of Playhouses event officially starts this weekend and all the playhouses have to be completed and delivered on site for display by this Wednesday. I have designed quite a few playhouses the last several years but this year I decided to host a competition for others to submit their playhouse designs. In case you were worried, yes … I am still designing one – I’m just not focusing on it yet (that will come later). Today I wanted to show you the progress of the two winners and let you learn a little bit about them.

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Nooks and Crannies by Bogdan Tomalevski and Tarek Abdel Ghaffar

To refresh your memory, one of the winning entries came from Bogdan Tomalevski and Tarek “Rex” Abdel-Ghaffar. I have included their original entry board above as reference so it would make it easier to see where the design started and how things have progressed during the construction. Not knowing the skill set of the people who won, I was prepared to dive in and bail folks out if the drawings they submitted for construction were less than … ahem … what they needed to be. As it turns out, the set I received on the Nooks and Crannies playhouse was amazingly good – four full size sheets of drawings, details, axonometric drawings – you name it, they had it.

The playhouses are being built on the site of a multi-family project just around the corner from my office so I have been able to keep an eye on how things have developed. Unlike the single family residential contractors who typically build the playhouses I design, these are being built by AUI, a large construction company in the Dallas/ Fort Worth area. As a result, the playhouses go from “haven’t started” to “almost complete” in just a few days – I am saving the completed photos for another post that will show all the playhouses that were designed and built for the event.

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Nooks and Crannies Playhouse by Bogdan Tomalevski and Tarek Rex Abdel-Ghaffar

Nooks and Crannies Playhouse by Bogdan Tomalevski and Tarek Rex Abdel-Ghaffar

I sent some questions off to the designers whose playhouses won in an effort to find out a little bit more about the types of people who took advantage of their design skills and their time to enter the 2012 Life of an Architect Playhouse Design Competition.

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First up - Bogdan Tomalevski and Tarek “Rex” Abdel-Ghaffar, designers of the Nooks and Crannies playhouse.

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How old are you?

Collectively we are 64 years old. Each 32 years young.

Where did you go to school?

We were classmates at USC School of Architecture class of 2006.

 Are you currently working and if so, what type of work do you focus on?

We are co-founders of Colega Architects. We have project experience ranging from custom single family homes to  restaurants and schools and now playhouses. Modern in theory and collaborative in process we strive to learn something new with every project.

What lead you to enter the Life of an Architect Playhouse Competition?

1. Big fans of LoaA. Not buttering you up Bob but it is true. We wanted to support LoaA, design a playhouse and participate in a charitable event.

2. We thought it was an interesting design challenge. To step away from the conventional project and customary scale was refreshing.

3. We wanted LoaA t-shirts!

How long did you work on your design?

We explored a number of ideas before we locked in to the Nook and Crannies concept. Design wise we spent roughly 10 hours refining the shape, proportions and geometry. We then took 6-8 hours rendering and putting together the board for LoaA. Our construction Documents were the most time-consuming. We would estimate 30 hours including all layout and detailing. Doing the math… it comes to roughly 50 hours of work collectively.

How did you come up with your idea?

Our concept stemmed from remembering playing when we were children. Making forts from whatever was around.  Squeezing into tight spaces where only kids could get into. Climbing on shelving or whatever else we were not suppose to. We wanted to encompass these ideas in a place that was just for children. We hope the children who get to play in this playhouse are as excited to play in it as we were designing it.

Was there one aspect of the design requirements that you felt was particularly challenging?

In one word scale! Designing for children forced us to look at space from a different perspective. The fact that the concept was Nooks and Crannies meant we had to design strictly for the size, flexibility, maneuverability  and strength of children.  We really wanted the experience to be strictly for children, a place free from the adult world.

Have you ever designed a playhouse or similar small project like this before?

We had to design and build a boat in our second year of architecture school. Then we had to get in our boats and race them around a buoy. Luckily, both of our boats survived.

How do you feel about having your playhouse be built for charity?

We love it! What a great way to contribute as an architect.  Kudos to LoaA for making this event possible.

Will you be coming to town to see it while on display?

We’re trying to make it happen…

Bogdan Tomalevski and Tarek Rex Abdel-Ghaffar

Bogdan Tomalevski and Tarek “Rex” Abdel-Ghaffar

I really hope Bogdan and Tarek will be able to come into town so I can meet them. On the chance that they can’t, I asked the guys if they would send me a photo of themselves standing in the alley while Tarek looks off into the middle ground … and they delivered! These guys did an amazing job with their design and if you would like to send them some email love for participating, or if you want you very own “Nooks and Crannies” playhouse, I am quite sure they will happily accommodate you.

Contact information: Bogdan Tomalevski  - btomalevski@gmail.com and Tarek “Rex” Abdel-Ghaffar – tarekag@gmail.com
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Beacon Playhouse by Peter Christensen

The other winning entry came from Floridian architect Peter Christensen (who incidentally also produced excellent construction drawings). When I first saw Peter’s playhouse, what really caught my eye was how much geometry he was able to work into the size parameters. This is actually true for both playhouses but having designed as many of these playhouses as I have, I know how difficult it is to design a structure as recognizable as a lighthouse and still meet the size restrictions. Truly amazing work by Peter.

Beacon Playhouse by Peter Christensen

Beacon Playhouse by Architect Peter Christensen

Beacon Playhouse by Architect Peter Christensen

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Now it’s Peter Christensen’s turn, designer of the Beacon Lighthouse, to answer my questions.

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How old are you?

40, going on 12.

Where did you go to school?

LSU!  GEAUX Tigers!

Are you currently working and if so, what type of work do you focus on?

Yes.  Our main focus is hospitality type projects.  

What lead you to enter the Life of an Architect Playhouse Competition?

It looked like too much fun to pass up.  Plus the fact that this is for charity, it’s a win win even if my design hadn’t been selected.

How long did you work on your design?

I’m not sure.  I started out with 2 other completely different designs, but with those two I never came up with a solution that i was happy with.

Was there one aspect of the design requirements that you felt was particularly challenging?

The size restrictions made it hard to come up with the proportions I really wanted for the lighthouse.  So I had to find the dimensions that resembled a lighthouse and keep the playhouse functional on the inside.

Have you ever designed a playhouse  or similar small project like this before?

No, unless you count the first two options that i didn’t fully develop.  Maybe I will dust those of for the next Life Of An Architect Playhouse design competition!

How do you feel about having your playhouse be built for charity?

Terrific!  It makes the competition that more exciting to know that the time and thought I put into the design will ultimately benefit some kids in need.   

How did you come up with your idea?

Being the dad of a 4-year-old boy and an 18 month old girl I have had frequent opportunities to become inspired by their play time.  My idea came from one of those times where I was finally got to sit back and relax instead of build another couch cushion and blanket fort.  During a visit to a maritime museum last summer there was a children’s area.  They had a ship playhouse there that my son enjoyed so much that we had to drag him away kicking and screaming!  So my son, Niels, and the ship playhouse were the inspiration that led me to the lighthouse idea…oh and the fact that lighthouses are sort of in my blood.  My great-grandfather was a lighthouse keeper in Denmark, my grandfather was raised at the lighthouse and my father is a lighthouse junkie.  Any family vacation we took when I was a kid it seemed like we were visiting a lighthouse somewhere along the way.

Architect Peter Christensen and Family

Peter Christensen with wife Michelle, son Niels and daughter Elle

I also asked Peter if he could oblige me with a photograph … but only if he had an amazingly attractive family. Luckily he was able to meet my strict “photo requirements.” Peter’s ‘Beacon Playhouse’ also has the added honor of being this years Dallas CASA online auction playhouse. I’m not sure of the selection criteria but I’m sure there was a box for “amazing” and “everyone will want to win it” as part of the evaluation process. If you would like to congratulate Peter on his good-looking family – or incredibly charming playhouse, I’m sure he would love to hear from you.

Contact information: Peter Christensen – p_christensen225@hotmail.com

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(in case you are new to Life of an Architect – here is a little information on Dallas CASA, and the volunteers that donate their time to abused and neglected children)

Information on Dallas CASA:

 

2011 Parade of Playhouses benfitting Dallas CASA

Dallas CASA (which stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates) is a nonprofit organization of community volunteers trained and supervised to serve as voices in court for abused and neglected children. On any day in Dallas County, there are nearly 2,000 children waiting for a safe place to live. Many times the CASA volunteer is the only constant in the child’s life during this very difficult process. Parade of Playhouses raises funds for Dallas CASA to continue serving more children who need safe, permanent homes where they can thrive.

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Special Thanks to:

AUI contractors llc fort worth texas

This is the second year in a row that AUI Contractors has stepped up and funded the construction of several of these playhouses. I became familiar with AUI thanks to Tim Guedry, a friend of mine dating back to high school who is now the  Director of Commercial Construction Services for AUI. Considering that I am primarily a residential architect and they don’t build single family houses, their financial commitment speaks to how much they care about the work Dallas CASA is doing in the community.

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  • Gouthama

    Hi
    I am an architect from India I want to share some works in ur blog

  • http://twitter.com/TheJanvin Janvin Lowe

    Wow, haven’t been keeping up with LoaA for a while but what a great competition and logical, non-intuitive designed winner!

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

      Nice to see you again Janvin and thanks for checking in and leaving a comment. Both of these playhouses turned out really well and both made a lot out of limited space.

  • Tyler Adams

    Good post, Bob. I’ll be there for the reception; see you there. I’ll try not to freak anyone out this year.

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

      Glad to hear it – I’ll see you Sunday.