Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Mistake House (1931)

image via flickr

Technically this is not a playhouse, but it is an interesting little structure worth talking about.  I visited this tiny cottage several years ago on a college field trip to The Principia College.  Shouldn't every architect have at least one mistake house in their back yard?  (Would be better than mistake buildings).  From each angle the house takes on a slightly different look, with materials changing at every turn.  It has strong storybook characteristics and fits beautifully on the campus.  Thankfully it was not demolished.

The first structure built at Elsah by Maybeck was an experimental building originally named the Sample House, and now known as the Mistake House. Between April and June of 1931, Maybeck personally supervised the construction of this cottage-like structure erected as a point of reference for methods and materials in the new college construction. It was his intention to use the Sample House as a basis for written instructions coming from his San Francisco office to the architects and construction supervisors in his Elsah office. The little building illustrates all kinds of construction techniques, including half timbering mixed with brick, concrete, and stone. In order to imitate the effect of thatch in an English village, Maybeck used gunite on the north slope of the Mistake House roof with poured concrete dormers and a concrete chimney. Principia administrators required that the architect experiment with terra cotta tile on the south slope, the method ultimately adopted for the executed dormitories.    
December 1963 Article from Modern Mechanics
Contractors Build Freak Test House to determine the feasibility and artistic effect of various materials for a group of new college buildings, a test building using many different materials was erected at Principia College, Elsah, Ill From the results gleaned from the novel experiment, the combination and types of material to be used in the construction of the main buildings was determined.  The small test building was constructed of stone, brick, cast concrete, and timber in brick and concrete. One side of the roof was made of concrete covered with slate, while the opposite side was plain concrete.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Woven Dream House

I was already a fan of Craft Sanity, but after seeing Jennifer's latest project...Wow!  Rather than attempting to sum up what she's done, I will recommend you check out her blog for an inspirational story involving over 500 students, weaving, and a 7 1/2 feet tall house.  Oh, and don't forget to buy you own handmade loom while you're there!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Op Art Playhouse

The Zebra Playhouse by Beck Group was designed for the Giving Gala 2011 in Dallas.  I think this playhouse falls into the art category with ease.  It's form is very sculptural, and graphically it could even be considered Op Art. 

Shamelessly straight from Wikipdia:
Op art, also known as optical art, is a style of visual art that makes use of optical illusions.  "Optical art is a method of painting concerning the interaction between illusion and picture plane, between understanding and seeing." Op art works are abstract, with many of the better known pieces made in only black and white. When the viewer looks at them, the impression is given of movement, hidden images, flashing and vibration, patterns, or alternatively, of swelling or warping.

So how did they build that?  The playhouse is constructed from plywood and 4" insulation foam pieces cut by CNC (computer numerical control) machines. If that's not enough of an explanation this promotional video may help.

I can only imagine the thought and time that went into the design and construction! 

The design concept was based on a big zebra in the green grassland.  I'm wondering if this zebra found it's grassland?  Anyone?  I'm dying to see pictures of it in a green field or park.

Now that's one way to do it!  It's always fun to see how these structures are moved.

I stumbled upon this one at design boom, but Op-art also has a write up.