I’ve been thinking and working on this for almost 8 months and the time is finally here. It’s time for the 4th Annual Life of an Architect Playhouse Competition!! Last years event was a spectacular success and I am hopeful that we can have similar – and possibly greater involvement this year. At the end of last years playhouse competition, we were able to build two playhouses. This year I know that we can build two, but there is a very real possibility that this number will grow to five when it’s all said and done.
That would be amazing … really amazing. This competition has always been a good thing and has allowed a lot of people to design a playhouse (cool) for free (even cooler), have their playhouse design featured on this site (okay, maybe that’s not that big of a deal) – BUT – they are helping spread awareness and helping out a charitable organization that benefits abused and neglected children. If nothing else, this is exactly the sort of thing where designers should use their creative super powers.
I thought I would start this year call for entries with a quick look back at last years playhouse winners and their final constructed playhouses.
The Red Ball Playhouse – designed and submitted by Levente Skulteti from Brussels, Belgium. This was a very popular playhouse – and by far the most challenging playhouse that we’ve built so far. While this playhouse was on display, there was a lot of picture-taking with people standing in front of this playhouse. I can guarantee that this was the first of its kind on display.
The Hollow Treehouse – designed and submitted by Kania P. Anggriany from Bali, Indonesia. The thing that most people seemed to be the most intrigued by with this playhouse is that there was a second floor level. It’s almost impossible to meet the height restrictions and have a second floor that is safe to occupy but this treehouse themed playhouse managed to pull it off.
That was a quick look back at last year’s 3rd annual Life of an Architect Playhouse Design Competition winners … let’s get to the details of 4th Annual Life of an Architect Playhouse Design Competition!
Who can enter?
This competition is open to anyone from anywhere – the only entry criteria is the following:
- You have to be a living member of the human race (or at least be able to fool others into believing that you are).
- A good attitude should also be a requirement but that’s more of a personal judgement call.
- Capable of reading and following the instructions that are spelled out very clearly below.
That’s pretty much it, so there really isn’t a good reason not to participate. Oh, wait a minute … did I forget to mention that there’s no fee required to enter!?! It just keeps getting better and better doesn’t it? If I am going to ask for you to flex your design chops to benefit needy kids, I’m sure as heck not going to ask you to pay for the privilege. I will raise all the money needed to run this competition and build these playhouses, all you need to do is design.
What do I submit?
All submissions are required to be in electronic form with a file size not to exceed 5MB (give or take a fe KB’s, I’m not heartless). For the judging process, you should submit plans, elevations, sections, perspectives … whatever you feel best conveys your design. Whichever drawings you do choose to create need to be arranged 24″ x 36″ and vertically oriented – it is very important that you follow these submission guidelines. I would humbly request that no animations be submitted (and by “humbly request, I mean “don’t send in any animations”.)
This next part is really important …
**You are not required to generate construction drawings unless your design is selected as a winner**
Next step … fill out this form to let me know you are planning on submitting –
*** The 2015 Life of an Architect Playhouse Design Competition is closed. See you next year!!***
The judging process will be handled in two rounds; the first round will be a review of all the entries judged by me and up to 4 other people who will be chosen at a later date. The number of qualified entries we receive will determine how many entries will advance to the final judging round but I am shooting for around 10%. 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. I would also strongly advise you to avoid using any glass block if you want to get past my personal prejudices regarding that loathsome material.
Entries can be submitted by individuals or by a team, it doesn’t matter and it will not be a consideration during the judging. I will also feature all the entries that advance onto the final judging round here on the site.
Registration starts immediately – fill out the form above and you are good to go! You have approximately 8 weeks to develop your concept and prepare your digital submission board. Designing these playhouses should be fun and as a result, don’t have to be so complicated that you have to design some new algorithmic computer software to help resolve your plan geometries.
April 20th (Monday) – design submissions will be due. Deliverable will be a 24″x36″ vertically oriented JPG file format emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org (file size not to exceed approximately 5MB). In the case of multiple entries by a single designer (person or group), please send each entry by itself. Do not place any personal information (like your name) on your digital submission – I want to keep things fair during the judging process.
April 27th (Monday) – initial round of judging (by celebrity judges not yet selected) to bring number of entries to be judged to manageable number of finalists will be complete with the finalists announced here on the Life of an Architect website.
May 4th (Monday) – the final judging round will be completed and the winners will be announced here on the Life of an Architect website.
June 1st (Monday) – construction documents are due to the contractors (4 weeks to complete – easy) IF you can get them done sooner, I’m sure the contractors would appreciate the additional time to build your playhouse masterpiece. All playhouse design competition winners are required to prepare construction drawings for their entries which will be submitted to their designated contractor. In the possibility that you are unable to prepare your own construction drawings (because you don’t know how, not because you get busy with other things) with a little heads up, I have people who have offered their time and skills to prepare constructions drawings on your behalf. Seriously?!? How many competitions have that offer on the table?
So, What do you get out of this?
Other than being a decent person and helping out some kids who need all the help they can get, if your playhouse is selected as one of the winners (yes, there will be more than one winner), you receive:
- your playhouse will get built and will be part of the Dallas CASA Parade of Playhouses event that takes place later this year
- you will get profiled here on this site – priceless as every architect living that has internet access reads this site daily*. Your fame as a designer will be boundless**
(**also an estimate)
- you will receive my undying gratitude for participating (actually, everyone will receive this particular “prize”)
- Possibly other goodies including, but not limited to, a custom Life of an Architect Design Competition t-shirt (retail value $25+ but the actual value is priceless), I am starting to solicit stuff from people so you’ll just have to take it on faith … this is a small time competition, there’s only so much I can take on myself. If you are reading this and want to kick something into the pot to be awarded to the winners, the cream of our society, just drop me an email.
There might be other things but that should (hopefully) be enough to get you to enter a design.
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.
Who is this playhouse competition benefiting?
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.
Important Considerations for your Design (aka “How to win”)
Size Guidelines – stick to them!! These restrictions are in place so that the playhouses can be moved through doorways and positioned in NorthPark Mall while the raffle is taking place. As a side note, this mall is the best one in Dallas and the display of the playhouses coincides with some other events occurring at the mall during the same period. If your playhouse is selected, it will be seen by approximately 2 million people. WOW!
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.
By submitting a design to this competition, you agree to allow Life of an Architect, Bob Borson, and Dallas CASA the rights to use and display your design for the purposes of construction and promotion. Your will still retain the rights to your design and you will receive full credit and recognition for your effort. Just a reminder that this is a charity event and if things go well, your playhouse will be selected and we will build it but we also might have to modify your design to make it:
a) within budget, and
b) buildable within certain parameters such as time constraints, material availability, etc.
That’s it for now – please consider participating. It’s good for the kids, it’s good advocacy, it’s good to show how architects and designers can use their skills to benefit a community … everybody wins.
Keep on being awesome,