“Splendor in the Grass”
The idea of Splendor in the Grass is to try and capture the personality of the type of dog that the house is designed for. In this case it is for the ever lovable and silly Golden Retriever. We tried to make the doghouse three things: 1) Fun and comfortable for the dog, 2) Functional for the dog and the owner as well, 3) And finally we tried to make it as beautiful as we possibly could so that it could compliment the yard that it will soon find as its new home.
One of our intents was to create a variety of spaces for the dog to enjoy; therefore the doghouse has at least four spaces. There is a space just outside the entrance for the dog to sit or lay on. This area acts almost as an outdoor deck. In the interior there are two spaces: there is a larger space just below the curving structural pieces where the dog can sit up, and the other space just below the 4 x 4 beam is more intimate and made to be enjoyed lying down. Finally, on one side of the house, we provided a flat space that the dog can jump up onto like a roof deck in order to get a better view of the world. For a dog that gets easily bored, this provides a variety of options that we felt were important.
Our Golden and most Goldens we know are quirky, silly and above all love to play with balls. We used this fact when creating our structure. Inside the doghouse we took artistic license with Salvador Dalis painting and modified it a bit to fit into the Golden Retrievers aesthetic taste. Outside the doghouse we paid homage to the all important tennis ball in an exaggerated, out of scale form. The choice of size is meant to be both light in humor as well as functional in that the dog can never really grasp the ball but will spends hours (as ours does) trying.
There is a quote from a Golden Retriever book that says that if Dogs were people you would want a Black Labrador to be your accountant but you would want a Golden Retriever to throw you a party. They love to have fun and play. One of our Goldens favorite games is to hide in tall grass, motionless and then pounce out at you. We used this as inspiration too. Therefore, we put tall grass on the side of the house where the clear Polygal is. This gives the dog the feeling that he is in the tall grass, filters the sunlight coming into the space and provides for interesting shadows.
It was important to make the doghouse as comfortable as possible for our canine companion. We attempted to do this in a variety of ways. First, there is a soft mat carpet inset into the floor for the dog to lay on and can be replaced as it wears. Second, the 4 x 4 beam piercing through the space is made of cedar which gives off an odor that fleas do not like. The large clear Polygal wall can be oriented to the South in the winter in order to afford passive solar gain as well as provide a means for sunbathing, which most dogs love. The doghouse has two wheels in front and a block in back which allows it to easily be turned or moved like a wheel-barrel for a different summer orientation (Note: the wheels and block had to be removed in order to get it in this gallery space at Semple Brown but will be re-attached after the show).
We provided as much ventilation as possible by way of a clerestory and small round holes in the walls. The clerestory openings are protected from the weather by a roof overhang. The small round holes also have a delicate, aesthetic affect at night if a light is incorporated into the space. They give the feel of twinkling stars, depending on your location, since the light only escapes from the holes if the observer is lined directly in front of them. During the day, the holes also allow filtered daylight into the space.
One of our Goldens (and most dogs) favorite activities is to just simplylook. Therefore, in the back of the doghouse we provided a square opening for this activity of looking. It also provides for a perfect photo opportunity.
The curved, sloping metallic roof was both a design form decision as well as a functional water collector/diverter. There is a small gutter at the edge of the roof that directs the rainwater into the dogs water bowl mounted by Velcro onto the floor giving him a fresh bowl of water after each rainstorm.
We chose natural materials and finished them only with a clear stain in order for the doghouse to fit into the outdoors rather than clash with it.
The doghouse was auctioned off at a fundraiser and went for a good amount of money. We hope that this house is providing some dog a great place to be that is functional, aesthetically pleasing and above all subtly funny and quirky, like the Golden Retriever it was modeled after.