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Designing Comfortable and Playful Spaces For Life With a Pet: 31 Homes and Environments
It’s said that our ability as a species to easily form strong emotional bonds with creatures of another species is one of the unique characteristics that differentiate humans from animals. But what about the love we receive in return? Scientists have even gone as far as to measure and compare the blood pressure and oxytocin levels of our pets when we’re together, and when we’re apart, in order to prove such a fact.
With the reciprocated familial love shared between pets and owners coming close to between family members themselves, it’s no wonder our pets feel like part of our families. But why, then, are we less likely to include them in the major design decisions of our homes?
When a new family member joins our residence we make sure, for example, they have dedicated and comfortable spaces of their own to sleep, eat, relax, and be private, whereas preparations for new pets often start and end with an old blanket and a couple of bowls on the floor. When renovating spaces, these examples of homes and hospitality and workplace environments make different design choices to ensure the animal residents feel as at home as the people do. Because it’s their house too.
Cat Furniture: More Comfort and Health for Felines at Home
Designing Comfortable and Playful Spaces for Pets and People
Many humans had a hard time adjusting to the claustrophobic restrictions enforced during the pandemic, but we’ve been asking our pets to do it their entire lives – locking them up inside for large chunks of the day, restricting their exercise, fresh air, and even toilet visits. For many pet owners, the nature of the working day means that for a large percentage of the time, a pet’s inside environment is their only environment. That means it’s down to us as owners to ensure they have adequate spaces to stay active and relaxed while inside.
It would be easy, for example, for the owner of the minimalist Evening Radiance Apartment in Taiwan to wave away dedicated rest space for their dog as too problematic to the design. But by creating a bespoke side table that also serves as a partition and a dog bed, the owner’s beloved Jack Russel fits seamlessly into the space. Meanwhile, by integrating species-specific play spaces for their pets, the owners of the Lolite Apartment in Brazil, were able to create a playspace for their cats that doubles as a protective guardrail at the top of the staircase, as well as comfortable outdoor seating for the human habitants, which encloses a water run for their turtles.
Give Pets the Gift of Independent Living
Different animals have very different personalities themselves, of course. Whilst most dogs are welcoming of constant attention and willing to serve, the majority of cats are more solitary creatures, keeping themselves to themselves, often going unseen for days on end.
Fiercely proud of their independence, one of the most loved features for a feline is their own entrance, gifting them the ability to come and go as they please. As small holes cut into a door, cat flaps are simple to install, but in multi-residence buildings where doors lead only to interior hallways, cats find independence harder to come by.
The lack of obstructive doors at the Young Family Apartment in Vilnius, for example, affords the family cat free roam of the apartment. Even where doors are a human necessity, meanwhile, such as in the bathroom, a small hole has been neatly cut to let the cat in. Cutting is also employed at Apartment 3 Zero 8 in Brazil, where the resulting cavity between the apartment’s utility room and balcony guides the cat through to take care of business.
A pet’s independence, however, is not always solely in the interest of the pet itself. The White Street Loft, for example – an expansive 6,000 sq ft, three-story family home in New York, US – has utilized a light shaft that rises through the entire height of the space to include a dedicated elevator for the family dog. And an innovative three-section revolving door at the Syncopated, Revolving Door Condo in Japan allows residents to create the right level of thermal and acoustic insulation and ventilation in the open-plan layout, while also providing a quiet space for the family dog to rest.
Hardwearing Pet-Safe Surfaces
As humorous as it is in online videos, pets don’t wear shoes and socks. Meaning homes without dedicated mudrooms and pet showers are susceptible to the mud, rain, and dirt that pets walkthrough. And a pet’s claws, meanwhile, can be a constant menace to floors, walls, and furniture. Homes that prioritize hardwearing surfaces, therefore, can create more relaxed environments for both species.
At the Dwelling With Independent Concrete Block Wall, for example, the client was a fan of both keeping exotic pets such as reptiles and also of keeping antiques. The architect chose to fit this double-edged brief by splitting the apartment into a ‘dorma’ area – in Japanese meaning “a dirt place” – enclosed by rough but hardwearing concrete blocks – alongside a safer, slightly raised area.
Pet-Friendly Condominium Apartment Living
When renters turn into homeowners, restrictions on decorating, remodeling, and renovating often cease to apply, making it easier to create living spaces that work for them and the specific needs of their families. Often in condo apartments, however, owning a pet is still outlawed. For many families, this can be a deal breaker. So, for designers and developers of apartments looking to attract more market interest, ensuring a building is pet-friendly can draw in buyers and renters alike.
The Treehouse Coliving Apartments in Seoul includes 72 micro-living spaces that appeal to the city’s many startup employees with its community areas for both human and animal inhabitants. A quadruple-height interior garden, for example, provides shared access to work areas, communal kitchens, laundry rooms, and a relaxing lounge, as well as dedicated pet baths. Meanwhile, ladders of ledges inside the apartments provide felines with specialist walking space.
Pet-Welcoming Hospitality and Workplaces
While homes that are better designed for pets to live alongside humans help the animals themselves to feel at home when their owners are not there, making public spaces more welcoming to animals means pets don’t need to stay home at all. Fulfilling a brief to transform a unit into a dedicated cat café, the Together Apart Cat Café manages to navigate the strict regulations surrounding the separation of animals and food preparation, by installing sections of flexible partitioning that encourage the cats into and through the interior, while also keeping them away from the kitchen.
Meanwhile, the ability to bring a dog into the office is a huge factor in making workplaces more appealing for the hybrid-era professional. The Office Around a Tree office in China encourages bring-your-canine-to-work days with unobstructed legroom underneath cantilevered desks, for example, while the 9GAG office in Hong Kong featured an undefined 9PARK area, reserved for common outdoor activities such as lounging, picnics, and even dog walking.
Evening Radiance / LCGA Design
Vila do Conde Apartment / Raulino Silva Arquitecto
Loloite Apartment / URBANODE arquitetura
Courtyard House at Wani / design it
Stairway House / nendo
Cats’ Pink House / KC Design Studio
Young Family Apartment in Vilnius / SA atelier
Apartment 3 Zero 8 / Debaixo do Bloco Arquitetura
Cat House / SeijilwamaArchitects
The Dog House / Atelier About Architecture
White Street Loft / WORKac
Syncopated, Revolving Door Condo / Tomokazu Hayakawa Architects
House for Booklovers and Cats / Barker Associates Architecture Office
Apartment in Hanoi / Kây Architecture JSC
Dwelling With Independent Concrete Block Wall / Asano – Issue Architect Office
GDP93 / Ventura Studio
Treehouse Coliving Apartments / Bo-DAA
M+K House / SAI Architectural Design Office
Meow Restaurant / E Studio
9GAG Office / LAAB Architects
Office around a Tree / Lukstudio
Together Apart Cat Café / Davidson Rafailidis
Upside Down House / Sibling Architecture
CatFlat Apartment / Line Design Studio
K2 House / FMD Architects
RE Apartment / Oficina Conceito Arquitetura
House in Sakuragawa / Suppose Design Office
ZAKK and MB’S House / Sawadeesign
Poor But Sexy / Hagar Abiri
Home of Pets / HDD
Dog / Human House / EKAR
Find these and more selected projects designed around pet owners and their pets, in this ArchDaily folder created by the author.
This article is part of an ArchDaily series that explores features of interior architecture, from our own database of projects. Every month, we will highlight how architects and designers are utilizing new elements, new characteristics, and new signatures in interior spaces around the world. As always, at ArchDaily, we highly appreciate the input of our readers. If you think we should mention specific ideas, please submit your suggestions.