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What makes a great doghouse? My dogs would probably say a king-size bed, plenty of snacks and room to roam. But they don’t seem to realize that my house isn’t technically a doghouse. Meanwhile, Palm Springs/Desert Cities-based designers and builders tackled the question for real as part of Barkitecture Chicque 2009 , a competition to design and build sustainable, functional dwellings for dogs. When the winners were announced on May 1, students from NewSchool of Architecture & Design  in San Diego swept the competition.
I also applaud the design principal behind the Woof Haus—to support bonding between a dog and his or her people. The third-place winning Woof Haus is an indoor doghouse that looks sort of like a mini-Murphy Bed with paw prints, designed by student Calvin VanBik and consultants Jack Smyer and Molly Groendyke.
My favorite is the second place finisher Play Penn by students Allen Ghaida and Jared Basler, and Shannon Martin, Jennifer Tam and Matt Teichner, consultants from FreemanWhite. The Play Penn, which is about relaxation and entertainment, has two parts. One is a protected sleeping “den;” the other is an open area with a tennis-ball wall. Balls can be popped in and out of holes in the wall. Also, the roof is sloped so it can be integrated into indoor dog games and training. (Rainy day Agility anyone? )
More than 200 turned out for the dog-friendly competition festivities at the Ace Hotel & Swim Club, where at least one bartender zips around the pool on a skateboard. The event was a fundraiser for Gilda’s Club , a cancer support group that provides workshops and education/social activities for people living with cancer, their families and friends. The event was hosted by Dwell magazine and Total Marketing Partners.
By the way, Palm Spring pooches are no strangers to elegant design. A fabulous iron fence —with organic lines and images of dogs and cacti—rings the city’s 1.6-acre off-leash park. Designed and built by artist Phill Evans , the fence is astonishing both for its beauty and for the fact that someone managed to get it funded for a dog park! That’s inspiring. Don’t miss it if you’re in the area.
View images  of all the designs and some of the designers.